Shhh, don’t tell anybody. But I’m not super-bendy-flexible!!!
Yes I teach yoga, yes I practise yoga every day, but (whisper it quietly) I’ve still got quite tight hamstrings; back bends challenge me; and my lower back can feel quite stiff. And I’m fine with that.
There, I’ve done it. I’ve outed myself as a not-so-bendy yoga teacher!
But I wanted to share this with you because so many people tell me, with absolute rock-solid certainty, that they can’t do yoga because they’re not flexible.
Not flexible? Not an issue
Maybe a perceived lack of flexibility is one of the reasons you may have put off (or be putting off) trying yoga.
And I want you to know – it’s totally, so NOT an issue.
You can’t touch your toes? No problem, over time you’ll get there!
Your spine feels so stiff you feel like you’ve got a rod up your back rather than 24 moving joints? Come along and start to get it moving.
Your shoulders are so tense you can feel them up around your ears most of the time? Learn to relax and let go and ease those shoulders back down.
These are the very reasons why you would benefit from a regular yoga practice.
Physical flexibility means being able to move your muscles and joints through their full range of movement. Most of us lose this full range of movement because we live sedentary lives and don’t use our full range of movement. And what you don’t use, you lose…
So our physical yoga practice gets those very same stiff joints and muscles moving.
Here’s how yoga improves our flexibility
- Yoga releases tight muscles through stretching, particularly those affecting posture in your hips, lower back, chest and shoulders thus improving posture.
- Yoga lengthens your muscles and gently stretches the connective tissues binding the muscle fibres together. Stretching lubricates your tendons and ligaments, which govern the distance your joints can move in relation to their corresponding limbs. So stretching = more flexibility.
- Yoga promotes better circulation of blood through your body, including to the joints and muscles. It also improves circulation of nutrients and removal of toxins.
- Yoga can relieve lower back pain and bring relief from arthritic pain as the joints are released and supporting muscles strengthened.
- Yoga improves your bodily awareness. As we begin to learn where we are tight and out of balance we can stretch to release those pockets of tightness and notice the effect this release has on other parts of our body as well as on our breath and our emotions.
- Yoga releases long-held tensions and frees up blocked energy which we can then use to bring about positive change in our lives.
- Breathing exercises enable us to energise or relax our body, mind and emotions at will.
- Relaxation also plays a part in relieving pain and discomfort as we release tensions in the body and mind.
Flexible body AND flexible mind
But flexibility isn’t just about your body. It’s also an attitude of mind.
Our yoga practice, whether in class or at home, can help us to challenge what we think we’re capable of physically as we try new postures, allowing ourselves to stretch more deeply or allowing ourselves to try that scary back bend for the first time after resisting it for so long.
Our yoga practice can encourage us to feel honestly and without judgment. As we move, our bodies may release emotions which had been buried deep in our bodies. Allowing ourselves just to be with whatever arises is one of the many gifts of yoga.
Our yoga practice can enable us to learn that what we think is right is not the only way. As we release stuck energies, thoughts and emotions, we can open up to new possibilities.
Yoga enables us to relax and to quieten the mind – creating the space and freedom so we can listen to the stillness, compassion and wisdom which is there within and ready for us to access.
It’s all relative
And it’s all a matter of relativity.
Relative to how my body did (or rather didn’t) move when I started yoga, I am way more flexible than I ever used to be.
And yes, that’s great, because I feel a much greater ease in my body and sense of general well-being. I don’t have too many niggles, aches or pains and if I do, I know that moving will release them.
So I’m still a bit stiff compared to some. But, personally, I’m not practising yoga to become double-jointed or to defy gravity. I’m practising yoga to release, connect and understand.
And yes, while yoga has made me more physically flexible, it has also enabled me to become more confident, open-minded, easy going and relaxed.
And that’s the true gift of flexibility.
If you’d like to try a slower-paced, therapeutic approach to yoga then why not come along to one of my yoga classes in Southampton & Eastleigh, Hampshire, UK?
I’ve got four new weekly classes starting in September. Check out my yoga class timetable to find out more and register your interest in attending.
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Over to you & please share
How has yoga helped your sense of flexibility? I’d love to hear – please leave a comment below.
Do you know someone who’d benefit from yoga but they’re put off because they think they’re not flexible enough? Then I’d love it if you would share this post with them, via email, Twitter or Facebook, and let them know there is a yoga class out there for them!