I feel like we all want to know how to become more flexible. Flexibility is something that it seems some people are inherently born with. Some of us to really work hard at increasing our flexibility. This includes me. When I first began yoga, I could barely touch my toes. With the help of a regular stretching and yoga practice, I have been able to build my flexibility up bit by bit.
Why become more flexible?
So, why do you want to become more flexible? Greater flexibility can enhance not only your yoga practice, but many other aspects of your fitness journey. Benefits include:
Helping your body to become more flexible enables your body to tolerate and withstand physical stress. This is why you’re told to stretch before and after working out.
Doing so literally stretches the ‘comfort zones’ of your body, making your body more able to take you further in your workout, or your yoga practice, decreasing the risk you will be hindered by an injury.
Let’s say you have a wrist or ankle injury, think about just how much this could potentially affect your quality of life and fitness. A regular yoga practice strengths and increases your flexibility all over your body.
Improved posture and balance
It’s no secret that people who practice regular stretching have improved posture and balance. Stretching helps lengthen your muscles. It also helps to strengthen connections between your muscles, strengthening the potential of your muscles.
The stronger your body is, the more effortlessly it can help you through a workout or a yoga practice, or the more effortlessly it get simply get you through the day!
Aside from the physical aspects, the stronger you feel, the more you’ll want to be to standing tall, feeling proud of yourself and your body for the world to see.
The journey of becoming more flexible can actually benefit your mindset as well. Increasing your flexibility requires you to push your body out of its comfort zone, breath through the uncomfortable sensations and stay there.
ou can also apply these principles to your day-to-day life, and any mental or emotional struggles you are going through. Life is all about taking yourself to the edge of your comfort zone, and learning to become comfortable with the discomfort you find there.
Pushing yourself to your physical limits leads to greater flexibility and strength. Pushing yourself to your mental limits leads to greater flexibility and strength also.
Yoga poses for flexibility
Generally speaking, the more challenging the pose feels for you personally, the best this will be for your flexibility. So, the best poses that you could do for your own flexibility may vary. However, here are a few to try out and see how they feel!
Standing forward fold
Plant your feet a little less than shoulder width apart. Stand up tall and stretch your arms up as you inhale. As you exhale, bend at your hips and bring your palms to the ground. If you can’t do this while keeping your legs straight, this is fine, just bend your legs.
You will feel the stretch in your hamstrings. To make the pose more challenging, breath through the sensations and see if you can begin to straighten your legs.
This one feels great first thing in the morning after a night’s sleep.
Get yourself into a table-top position. In other words, get on your hands and knees, ensuring that your knees are below your hips and your wrists are below your shoulders.
As you inhale, very very slowly begin to tilt your lower back up, then the middle of your back, then your shoulder, and bring your head up and look to the sky.
As you exhale, again very slowly, begin by bringing your head to your chin, then pushing your shoulder blades together, suck your belly in and tuck in your tailbone until your body is arched.
Simply repeat as many times as feels good. This increases the strength and flexibility in your trunk and back.
This pose is great for increasing the flexibility in your hip region, and your quads.
On your hands and knees, plant your palms and bring one leg in between your palms. Then stretch out your other leg until it is flat on the floor. Get to a place where you are comfortable (ish), and look to the sky.
Repeat on the other leg, and see if you can begin to sink further into the stretch. Moving your back leg further backwards can help with this.
There are a huge amount of other poses you could try to increase your flexibility further. Get to grips with these first and see how you do! The important thing to remember is to challenge yourself – this shouldn’t be easy. You should feel uncomfortable, but not in pain.
Yoga styles for flexibility
Regardless of the yoga style you pick, you’re sure to challenge the limitations of your body and challenge your flexibility.
However, the one style that comes to my mind for flexibility is Yin Yoga.
Yin yoga focuses on targeting the deep connective tissue within our muscles. In a yin yoga class, you will be encouraged to stay in certain challenging poses for a few minutes at a time.
It strengthens your mind-body connection, making sure you are in touch with what feels uncomfortable but a good stretch, and what feels a little painful (whenever you feel pain in a yoga pose, make sure you come out of it a little to find a place that feels better).
The tools to tailor your practice
There you have it, you now have the tools to tailor your practice to your flexibility goals!
I hope this article has shed some light on the benefits of becoming more flexible within your yoga practice, and some of the best poses and styles to try out.
If after reading this you would like to give some of these poses a go, please let me know how you get on!
All the best