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8 Tips on How to Get More Flexible for Yoga

best-yoga-flexibilityHey 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! yoga-and-flexibility

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.

=>To practice these styles and more,  check out my review of YogaDownload.com  <=

Summary:

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.

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10 Comments

  1. Kurtis Quick Kurtis Quick

    I have been trying to stretch more. I have been following yoga tutorials from youtube in the morning but I cannot touch my toes. I am very unflexible and its killing me! I have played sports my entire life and never been able to bend over and touch my toes or sit with my legs straight and touch my toes. Could this be a bigger issue? maybe my pelvic hip is tilted?

    • Hey Kurtis. Some people are just not very flexible and that’s ok. You still get all the benefits from yoga even if you can’t do the challenging postures.
      I’m sure if you try several of my tips mentioned in my post there will be improvement but it just takes time before you see results. If you still have further concerns you may want to consult your doctor.

  2. Laura Skinner Laura Skinner

    Hello! I have been interested in yoga for a few years but I was confused about the yoga styles and what they focused on. I was going to a beginners class for a short time and while I still want to practice yoga at home, I have no idea where to start or what goals to work towards. Are there beginner levels for each of these styles or are some of the styles considered beginner while others are considered harder?

    • Hey Laura! Great question. For more detailed explanations about the styles and levels of yoga, you should check out my previous article “What are the Different Types of Yoga” here.

  3. Mark Mark

    Hey Vanessa,
    That was a great post. I like the numbered list approach, especially when followed by a summary. I haven’t done yoga for about a year but prior to that a was a 3-5x per week Bikram keener. I am not flexible at all, but I did realize some huge gains when practising on a regular basis. Each of your 8 points contribute to a fuller and more satisfying yoga experience. Well done.

    Mark

    • Thank you Mark! And thanks for sharing on how a regularly practicing made a difference to your flexibility!
      Are you thinking of going back to yoga soon? All the best!

  4. Nehpets Nehpets

    This has been a great article. Much thanks to you!

    I’m almost brand new to Yoga, having only tried two sessions while at home (watching some Yoga video off of Youtube). My posture is horrendous and I find doing yoga difficult because of this. Would you have any recommendations?

    Thank you,

    – Nehpets

    • Ho Nehpets. Thanks for stopping by. There are different types of yoga and you may want to try Restorative and Iyengar Yoga to see which one you prefer. Both styles are slower paced than other styles and will help you with your alignment and posture. Yoga should not be painful or difficult. You need to find an appropriate style for you. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  5. Robert Robert

    Do you do strength training at all? Would be interesting to hear how it connects with yoga. Am a long-time home gym owner myself and thinking of trying yoga this year.

    • Hi Robert. I do some light strength training between my cardio days. If you’re a gym buff I think you would really enjoy Power Yoga. You can read about it more in my previous post here.

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