Our ability to be flexible is essential to a happy, thriving life. When we cannot bend, we break, both literally and figuratively. In the same vein, when we lack flexibility, we are more likely to get injured. Becoming more flexible is something we can work on in little ways, every day, improving little by little and enhancing our bodies’ ability to move and flex. Read on to learn a few important flexibility tips as well as our favorite yoga for flexibility.
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Tips To Increase Your Flexibility
Most of our issues with flexibility are actually often mental, not physical. When we push our muscles, our brains trigger our sympathetic nervous system, triggering muscle contraction. If you control your breathing to remain smooth, you can convince your brain and nervous system to relax. Once your muscles relax, you can sink deeper into stretches and poses.
Use your breathing.
As you inhale, focus on your posture and alignment in the pose. When you exhale, sink a little deeper into your posture, being sure not to push your muscles past your comfort zone.
Lengthen your poses.
As you breathe, lengthen your poses. Your muscles need a moment to relax. Lengthen the amount of time you stay in a pose and this will greatly increase your flexibility. Five breaths is a good pose, but five minutes might show you even better results.
Play with your limits.
Increasing flexibility is not about pushing past the limits of your body; this might lead to injury. While you don’t want to push yourself too far, you do want to push yourself in small increments. The only way to learn and further your body’s limits is to play along the edge of your abilities.
Use dynamic stretches.
Dynamic stretches are those done with movement instead of stationary. Take your muscles through a full range of motion, which engages more muscle fibers than just a single line of tissue. Dynamic stretches force clenched muscles to relax and activate your central nervous system at the same time. This method of stretching is far more effective at preventing injuries than stretching without movement, also called static stretching.
Stop worrying so much.
Finally, stop worrying. You might be surprised to learn just how much flexibility is a mental strain as much as a physical one. Try to stop worrying about your flexibility and instead focus more on relaxing. The more you relax, the better able you are to lengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility over time.
Yoga For Flexibility
Yoga works to increase our flexibility. It helps you move better plus feel less stiff and tired. Using certain poses that challenge your greatest range of motion improves the suppleness and flexibility of your body.
How Long Does Improvement Take With Yoga For Flexibility?
Every body is different, so it may take as long as a few weeks or as little as a few days to notice your body becoming more flexible. Typically, someone who is in good shape might notice themselves becoming significantly more flexible in around 4 weeks of consistent yoga practice. Then again, someone might take as long as a year to be able to touch their toes. It all just depends on your individual body. The answer here is to stick to
3 Poses: Yoga For Flexibility
The best yoga poses for flexibility are the ones you do every day. However, here are a couple of yoga poses that are great for helping us become more flexible.
Yoga For Flexibility: Half Split
This yoga pose is incredibly beneficial for all sorts of muscle groups. This pose will increase flexibility in your back, abs, glutes, hamstrings, hips, pelvis, knees, and quads! To complete a half split pose:
- Begin in a low lunge with your right leg forward and back knee resting on the floor.
- Rest your fingertips on the floor.
- Move your hands back as you extend your right leg forward. Rest your right heel on the floor and flex your foot. Make sure to try to keep your hips in line with your back knee.
- Exhale and fold your torso forward. Breathe deeply while holding the pose as still as you can.
- Repeat the exercise with your other leg.
Yoga For Flexibility: Forward Bend
The forward bend yoga pose is a foundational pose that is essential to any yoga practice, especially when improving flexibility. This pose helps you stretch the entire back of your body. To complete this pose:
- Begin in staff pose, seated with your legs stretched straight out in front of you.
- Press your heels away from your body and your fingertips into the floor beside your hips.
- Inhale while keeping your torso long, then exhale and lean forward at the hips. Fold toward your legs by lengthening your spine without rounding your back.
- Walk your hands towards your feet, down the side of each leg as far as you can. If you can reach your feet, hold the sides of them with your hands for stability.
- With each inhale, lift and lengthen your torso, and with each exhale, sink deeper into the forward bend.
- Stay in the pose for between 1 and 3 minutes. To end the pose, release your feet, inhale and lift your torso until you are upright once again.
Yoga For Flexibility: Pigeon Pose
Pigeon pose is fantastic for opening your hips while stretching your groin, back, hips, and thighs. Here is how to complete Pigeon Pose:
- Begin in a downward-facing dog, then bring your right leg up into a down dog split.
- Then, bend your right knee to bring your right leg forward. Place your right knee on the floor outside of your right hand.
- Allow your left knee to sink to the mat until your left leg is flat on the floor and your left foot is pointing straight back. Make sure you square your hips towards the front of your mat.
- Repeat with the other leg.
Practice and Improve
The most important aspect of improving flexibility is, without a doubt, just sticking with it. While this might be the easiest tip to give, it’s also the hardest to follow. If you can, try to make a concerted effort to work towards better flexibility each and every day. Before you know it, you’ll be bending deeper and reaching further than you and your muscles ever thought possible.