Hey everyone! Happy to see you back. So I’ve been getting lots of comments from readers telling me that they have poor flexibility and they are
wondering if being flexible is a prerequisite to do yoga?
The answer is no. And I can personally attest to this as I wasn’t flexible at all when I began yoga in 2012.
And while by simply doing yoga you will be increasing your flexibility, there are tips and tricks to move along this process a little faster.
Here are my 8 findings from my research that I’m presenting to you today!
1. Get Your Yoga Practice on at Least 3 Times a Week
The more you do yoga, the more flexible you will become. It’s that simple.
A daily practice is ideal but you make sure to practice at least 3 times a week.
2. Sweat it Out in Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga
Practicing yoga in the heat allows your muscles to stretch further without injury (making you more flexible) than if you were in a cold room. Besides if you live in a cold climate like I do, when you get to the studio you’ll feel like you’re on a tropical vacation. The relaxation “high” I get after Hot Yoga is real and lasts for hours.
*Please consult your doctor before trying out Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga if you have any health issues.
3. Cut the Caffeine Out… For Good!
I know that this is very hard but trust me on this: you really are better off without caffeine. Not only does it dehydrate your body and makes your muscles weaker, but you get into a vicious cycle of anxiety, insomnia, irritability and other problems. Besides if you’re doing yoga for stress management why would you want to consume this? I quit caffeine and it really made a difference for me mentally, emotionally, and physically.
4. Stretch it Out!
If you’re aware of your tense tight spots, stretching for a few minutes everyday can help you feel more comfortable in those challenging poses for you.
Make a list of problematic areas (common ones are your hips, shoulders, neck, spine, and hamstrings) and try stretching everytime before every practice.
One common mistake people make is stretching longer on the strong side and less on the weak side. By doing this you’re creating imbalance in the body so make sure to stretch evenly for the same amount of time on both the stronger and weak sides. Also, don’t do this second common mistake: don’t ever EVER force deep stretches as you’re asking to hurt yourself.
5. Just Breathe!
Muscles need oxygen and the process of inhaling and exhaling helps release tension from muscles allowing you to increase your range of motion. With sustained breathing in yoga, you’re able to feel the stretch thus increasing your flexibility.
6. Flexibility is in the Mind!
Hey! If you keep pounding into your mind that you’re not flexible, then guess what? You will never become flexible.
But let’s be realistic: no matter how much you practice perhaps you’ll never become a contortionist. To be on that level it requires to be born with a certain body type.
HOWEVER, the more accepting and compassionate you are towards yourself and your body’s limitations, the more you will improve as time passes. Learn to let go and enjoy the process with no expectations. You might just be surprised what your body can do later with time!
When I started yoga in the summer of 2012, I was not flexible. In fact I wasn’t ever flexible. I was the kid who was never able to touch my toes when bending forward and you know what? I still can’t. BUT I can slightly touch my toes when I’m sitting down on the floor and leaning forward towards my legs which is something I was never able to do before. Now that’s huge progress!
7. What’s Your Intention?
Yoga teaches you to work with your body and practice self-compassion. There’s no reason to get angry and upset with you and your body’s current limitations. Often we tend to compare ourselves to the more experienced and advanced students to the class. Or even the teacher.
But are you really there to compete with others in terms of performance? Or are you there to take a breather and relax? Or to connect with your mind, body, and spirit? What is your intention to practice yoga today?
But if your purpose to doing yoga is to become more flexible and you want to reach mastery there isn’t anything wrong with that. What’s unhealthy is when you put so much pressure on yourself that you have a lot of negative self-talk going on in your mind, and you push yourself so hard that you end up forcing a pose and you hurt yourself.
8. Choose Your Yoga Style Wisely
Different yoga styles each have a different focus. Power Yoga focuses on strength and athletic performance. Ashtanga is similar to Power Yoga, but you must be already be flexible for it and Kundalini Yoga focuses on the spiritual aspects.
Restorative Yoga is a healing practice and relaxes the muscles and Iyengar focuses on alignment with the use of props. Both of these practices increase flexibility in a safe gentle way. Hatha Yoga is also good for starters for those who find the other two styles too slow.
I know that in-person group classes can get very expensive so having a home practice is cheaper and a convenient alternative as you can practice when you want wherever without breaking the bank.
Being flexible as a prerequisite to starting yoga is a common misconception. Don’t let your limiting beliefs stop you from pursuing yoga and continuing your practice even if you’re not at the flexibility level where you want to be.
By doing one or several of the following tips:
- A consistent (ideally daily) yoga practice;
- attending some Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga classes;
- gentle stretching;
- eliminating caffeine;
- focusing on the breath,
- realizing that flexibility is a mindset;
- setting your intention; and
- choosing the most appropriate yoga style for you
…You will definitely see an improvement in your flexibility with time!
Were these tips helpful? Which one(s) will you be doing?
Leave a comment or question below.
PS: I respond to all comments.