Integrate & Adapt

Amy Bell Yoga Teacher Wellness Wellbeing Lifestyle Blog

“Nature laughs at the difficulties of integration.”

Pierre-Simon Laplace

The 5 S's For Backbending

As a way to explore the theme Integrate & Adapt, firstly, let us look at a back bending focused yoga practice.

Here is a list of some qualities that are particularly beneficial if you are working towards back-bending postures.

1. Strength

2. Stability

3. Spaciousness

4. Suppleness

5. Softness

Often the misconception with backbends is that it’s all out about flexibility.  Being flexible is helpful but it’s important to; balance the suppleness out with stability (especially if you are hyper mobile); find softness (ease and opening) when using your strength to engage the body; whilst also creating lots of space in the body and with the breath (think full lung inflation).  This is where “Integration” is called upon. 

With that said, the order of which qualities you’ll prioritise will vary depending on what pose you are doing.  Therefore, it’s important you adapt to each need of the pose, each transition as you move from one pose to the next, and each movement sequence (fluid and wave like, or powerful and dynamic for example).

“Can we talk of integration until there is integration  of hearts and minds?  Unless you have this, you only have a physical presence, and the walls between us ae high as the mountain range.”

Chief Dan George

Movement Patterns & Body Part Focus

Just as it’s important to integrate the above 5 qualities when working towards back bends it’s integral to work with different movement patterns and focus on different parts of the body (to strengthen, open up and mobilise).  Your approach should not be linear or fixed.  Spinal movement patterns include – extension and flexion (cat/cow), lateral movements (crescent moon shape), twisting (spiraling/rotating), circumduction (circling around the axis of the body) or they can also be a combination of such movements.  Beyond the spine, you’ll need to open up the shoulders, plus the front body (e.g. thighs & hip flexors), stretch out the glutes, and strengthen the back body (including hamstrings & glutes).  So, whether it’s the 5 ‘S’ qualities, the spinal movements patterns, or the focus on a specific body part, you will be required to adapt to the different demands of each pose.

Amy Bell Yoga Teacher Wellness Wellbeing Lifestyle Blog

Off The Mat

After working with all this integration and adaptation on the mat I recommend you consider weaving this theme and approach into your everyday life. 

In order to follow the healthiest path in life, I’m of the mindset that we have to live in a holistic way, as everything is interconnected, and wellness is a WAY of life.  I see optimal wellbeing as the integration of the pillars of health, and adapting to the needs of our self and others in each new moment in the most conscious, wisest way possible. 

Taking care of our mental and physical health is important, as is taking care of our connections with loved ones and relationships to others, as well as taking care of our planet and the animal kingdom.  They’ll be times when we need to pay more attention to our mental health, times when we need to pay more attention to our families, and times when we need to pay more attention to our lifestyle choices and how they affect our environment.  Integration requires us to hold space for everything, and whilst we weave things together synchronously, our ability to adapt helps us deal with change and the varying demands upon us.

“The art of life is constant readjustment to our surroundings.” 

K. Okakaura

The 5 S's In Life

Below I expand upon the 5 ‘S’ qualities, and you will see how they are relatable to life, not just limited to how we practice and move our bodies on the mat.

Strength – emotionally, physically, mentally strong, taking action, speaking up, facing challenges, hard work, will power, creative expression, accomplishment.

Stability – balance, harmony, equanimity, rooted, grounded, safety, security, responsible, steady, constancy, endurance, support, steadfast, controlled.

Spaciousness – create space in mind/body/breath, expansion, open up, expression, freedom, the space between (thoughts, speech, actions, interactions etc.), reflection, limitless.

Suppleness – flexible, mobile, go with the flow, let go, open to change, fluid like, malleable, exploration, bend, release, ease, easy going, affable, adaptable.

Softness – surrender, relax, peace, slower, rest, kindness (heart/words/attitude), lighten, melt, release, tenderness, empathy, grace, listen, exhale, vulnerability.

Wellness Yoga Wellbeing Blog

“All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.”

Max McKeown

Journal Prompt

Write down one quality from each of the 5 ‘S’ lists above, that you want to integrate more into your life (eg. Creative Expression, Equanimity, Limitlessness, Release, Kindness).

Keep these in mind as you go about your day, and weave your way through these qualities.


Write down one affirmation which helps you commit to being more adaptable, in whatever way being adaptable means to you right now (eg. I am open to change and new possibilities).

Intentionally recall this affirmation throughout your day to keep you connected to it and working towards it.

Enjoy being more mindful of “Integrating and Adapting”, both on and off the mat.

If this post sparked your interest I recommend reading…

“Because Yoga Is A Lifestyle”

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