Flexibility is a term that is frequently used in conversations regarding yoga. Many new students decide to start their yoga journey in hopes of improving their flexibility. While several others decide not to practice yoga because they “are not flexible enough.”
Being called flexible has become a compliment in the yoga community. However, being flexible is not a perquisite for yoga! The truth is that everyone is “flexible enough” to start their yoga journey. The people who avoid yoga because they are “not flexible enough” are the very ones who should start to practice!
Our bodies adapt to our lifestyles. They become comfortable performing the movements we frequently make and start to avoid performing the movements we rarely make. The majority of the adult population spends several hours a day sitting behind a desk. As a result, our muscles become accustomed to a limited range of motion. Thus, having stiff bodies and joints and being “inflexible” has become commonplace.
If we do not introduce movement into our daily routines, we are at the risk of slowly losing our current range of motion and our flexibility. People who want to maintain and/or improve their mobility and level of flexibility need to increase their daily level of movement and expand their current ranges of motion.
Incorporating movement, expanding our range of motion and thus improving our flexibility is beneficial for many reasons. Improving our flexibility can enhance our performance in physical activities, decrease our risk of injuries, help our joints move through their intended range of motion, and enable our muscles to work more effectively and efficiently. To learn more about the science of flexibility, see this article from Yoga Journal.
Yoga is the perfect solution to improving one’s flexibility as it incorporates stretching, movement, and breath! In addition, yoga builds strength. Strength and flexibility combine to create mobile joints which are also stable.
Yoga meets you where you are
Everyone’s genetics for flexibility are different. Certain postures may be intimidating to beginners and appear to be inaccessible. However, modifications are available to help every yoga practitioner experience the benefits of practice. With practice, difficult postures will become more attainable as the distance and direction to which the joints can extend increases. It doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes! What matters is that you consistently move the joints- hips, vertebrae, etc- in an exploratory manner so that they stay healthy and supple. This is especially important as we age.
Yoga helps to prevent injury by incorporating stretching, breathing, and movement. Stretching cold muscles is more difficult and may lead to injury. Instead of performing static stretches, yoga provides a dynamic work-out. Classes are designed to ensure that students build heat and warm-up their muscles before being instructed to go deeper into poses.
Yoga focuses on the major muscle groups. Classes are sequenced with postures that target all parts of your body. Teachers design their classes to ensure both sides (right and left) receive equal attention and provide cues to help students achieve the correct alignment.
Where do I begin?
Looking to improve your flexibility with yoga but don’t know where to start? Do not let the fear of the unknown keep you from trying something new! We have beginners’ classes and series designed to introduce the basic postures to new practitioners. At Refresh we offer a 4 Week Beginner Series and also a Fundamentals Class every Saturday. Additionally, we offer two Stretch and Refresh classes per week. No yoga experience necessary! Lastly, come relax at our Friday night, Candlelight Vinyasa and Stretch class. During this end-of-week session, you’ll do flow yoga for half the class to warm the body and then spend the second half stretching safely, improving flexibility, and resting your mind. All of our class descriptions can be found here.
We look forward to seeing you!