Is Yoga for flexible people only?
Many people have told me that they don’t do Yoga because they are not flexible enough.
Do you think you need to be flexible to do Yoga?
If so, I think that is really sad, and a bit funny at the same time.
Funny because you would be waiting to become flexible before starting Yoga to become more flexible.
Isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron?
How do you become flexible?
The point is that you don’t become flexible by sitting behind a computer desk all day. Or by sitting behind the wheel of a car, or watching television.
You need to get up and move around. As the old saying goes: “Use it, or lose it!”
When you were born you were very flexible. What happened?
Maybe you think that becoming stiff is part of getting old and you just have to live with it?
That too is a very sad thought.
The simple truth is, your joints will become stiff if you don’t move. The stiffer your joints become the harder it will be for you to move, and you will gradually become less and less flexible.
You need to break this cycle.
The sooner you break this cycle the better.
It can be done. Yoga is a good place to start.
People with arthritis have a bit more of a battle because moving causes them pain. If you suffer from any pain when you move make sure you consult with your doctor before doing any form of exercise.
Several of my students suffer from arthritis, but they have learnt the benefits of Yoga and love coming to class.
Two of my Chair Yoga students are 87 and most are over 80. They all love YogaGrin Yoga because it helps to keep their body parts moving. As Pat puts it, her “..bones are not so stiff”.
Flexibility vs strength
The truth is, before you start stretching exercises in an attempt to become more flexible you should develop the strength and skills to protect your joints first.
If you don’t, then you may end up with aches and pains that could put you out of action for quite some time.
Only after you have developed the right skills should you start to focus on increasing your range of movement.
Only practice Yoga under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Make sure that you don’t over do it.
Yoga is not about being able to bend yourself into a pretzel. It’s about honoring yourself and your body, and doing what is right for you.
Make sure you don’t go beyond what is safe for you.
At YogaGrin we talk about going to your ‘edge’ and never beyond.
Going to your ‘Edge’
The ‘edge’ is that point where you are putting in just enough effort to make it feel effortless.
If you put in too much effort you may go beyond your edge but you could end up with an injury.
In the image below the vertical line is where you are at rest.
R1 is the your natural range of motion. With R1 you are putting in a reasonable amount of effort to get that level of movement.
R2 is your ‘edge’. R2 is your extended range of motion. You should be able to reach R2 safely after you’ve warmed up and have developed the skills to keep your joints safe.
If you go beyond R2…….beware, this is where injury can occur.
The boundaries of R1 and R2 will move over time. Sometimes you will not be as flexible as you were on previous days. This is perfectly normal. Try not to get discouraged.
On other days you will be a lot more flexible. When this happens try not to become over confident as this can lead to injury.
There are no prizes for being the most flexible, and there are no booby prizes for not being as flexible as the next person.
There will always be someone more flexible than you, and there will always be someone less flexible than you, but this is not what Yoga is about.
When you are exercising make sure you honor what your body is telling you. If you feel pain then you have gone too far and you need to ease off a little.
Be patient with yourself. Another old saying is: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This is very true, and it is true for you when exercising. Change takes time. If you are stiff it took a while for you to get that way, so it will take a while to loosen up.
If you practice mindfully and often you will see benefit 🙂
Yoga is not just for the young and flexible, it is for everyone. Young, old, able bodied, disabled. We can all practice some form of Yoga.
At YogaGrin we teach mindful Yoga.
The mind is amazing. We can do so much if only we think we can.
I hope you’ve found this useful and it has inspired you to get up and start moving 🙂