Stretching and flexibility are essential components of any movement practice. For many of us, however, our bodies can be resistant to stretching. We may find that we feel tightness in our muscles and joints, which can make it feel like progress is slow-going - and especially if you have Ankylosing Spondylitis or injuries etc. Fortunately, yoga can help you become more flexible with time and dedication! Sometimes it can be fast and sometimes it can take longer but it WILL happen!
The Benefits of Stretching
Stretching helps your body become more flexible over time by increasing the range of motion in your joints and muscles. It has also been proven to have relaxing effects on the nervous system, and even increase our pain tolerance! Increased flexibility can also lead to improved posture, improved circulation, increased energy levels, and more effective workouts overall - whatever your athletic activity of choice! If you’re looking for a way to boost your workouts, yoga practice, or just want to reduce tightness throughout your body, stretching is a great place to start. The general recommendation according to a few recent scientific studies is holding a stretch for 30 seconds, 3 times with rest in between, and to repeat this daily or at least 5 days per week.
How To Safely Improve Your Flexibility With Yoga
When trying to improve your flexibility through yoga, it’s important that you don’t rush into things too quickly. Pushing yourself too hard or too fast can lead to injuries or even the opposite of what you desire—increased tightness rather than decreased tightness. That’s why it’s important that you take things slowly and focus on warming up before each session with some gentle stretches before getting into the more intense poses.
Consistency is key so practicing shorter yoga sessions every day is better than doing one long class per week. Try to fit in some shorter yoga flows daily, or simply just do some regular stretching as described above. Also, try different types of yoga and see what works best for you. Yin Yoga can be great for flexibility as we hold the poses for up to 5 minutes! But Vinyasa yoga can also be great as it works a lot of active flexibility and dynamic stretching, in addition to strength (which is also a key part of becoming more flexible).
Since every body is different, it's also important that you listen carefully to what yours is telling you as you move through each pose—if something feels like too much strain or pain then back off from the pose until it feels comfortable again. Additionally, since some poses will target certain areas more than others it's also helpful to vary up your routine so that all parts of your body get stretched evenly over time.
Like I said, try different types of yoga and play with the duration of each pose! You can do things like "one breath on movement" or hold each pose for up to 10 breaths, or even longer! The choice is yours, but consistency is key - so keep showing up, ideally every day if possible.
Conclusion: If you’re looking to improve your flexibility through yoga, there are some important things to keep in mind. First, take things slow and focus on warming up with gentle stretches before getting into the more intense poses. Second, be consistent with your practice by doing shorter yoga flows every day or regular stretching. And finally, listen carefully to your body as you move through each pose—if something feels too painful then back off from the pose until it feels comfortable again. If you want to learn more about how to practice yoga safely and effectively, join my virtual yoga studio!