Hello, lovelies! I’m glad you’re back for another round of my yoga #TipTuesday! In case you’re new to my blog, this is where I share weekly (or sometimes bi-weekly) yoga tips and tutorials for beginner yogis. I wanted to focus on flexibility this weekend on account of two things:
1) How to improve flexibility is the #1 question I get when people discover that I do yoga
2) I just wrapped up my very first yoga challenge called Fall Flexy Flow that focused solely on opening up different parts of the body
Before I begin, I want to clear the air…
I am NOT a flexible person.
Phew, that feels so good to get off my chest. Despite the crazy poses you may see me doing on Instagram, most of those take lots and lots of stretching and warming up before I can get into them. Even then, I can only hold certain asanas for so long before it’s too much.
In all honesty – I was super nervous when I signed up to co-host the 10 day yoga challenge because I’m definitely the least flexible of all the hosts.
Case in point👇
My full time job requires me to sit at a desk in an office for 8-9 hours a day. Granted the view of the city is pretty great from where I sit on the 19th floor – but my posture has suffered greatly because of it. I have tight hamstrings, hips and extremely stiff shoulders. In fact, I received a massage after a manicure the other day and after a solid 10 minutes of a lady kneading my back and pulling on my arms she told me I “needed less stress in my life.” She also said I should get my shoulders checked out… so that’s reassuring. (Note to self: stretch shoulders daily)
The good thing about doing yoga is that regular practice is guaranteed to improve your flexibility. Now before you come back to me and say “Wait a second, I’ve been doing yoga for years and I still can’t do the splits or fold in half”, let me reword. Yoga practice is guaranteed to improve your flexibility to the level that your body will allow.
That’s right. Some of us are born more naturally flexible than others and that means certain yoga poses may be extremely difficult to master. However, I’m a true believer that daily practice makes all the difference. The road to flexibility may be a little longer for some of us, but that doesn’t mean it’s unobtainable.
“Flexibility is the outcome of yoga, not a prerequisite.”
Without further ado – here are a few tips that I hope you find helpful while you partake on your flexy journey.
I was scrolling through old yoga photos and came across a photo where I was almost doing the splits. By almost, I mean I was about 2 inches off the ground and my hips and hamstrings were finally open enough to get me comfortably close to the full expression. That was back when I had a job in Florida that allowed me to work exclusively from home, thus resulting in a very consistent daily yoga practice. Flash forward 2 years and it’s amazing to see how much I’ve back tracked. The photo above is a variation of “half split” but even this provided a very intense hamstring stretch.
Stretching consistently, even 10 – 15 minutes per day is so incredibly important when you’re looking to gain flexibility. The weeks where I do yoga daily are the weeks when I see the most progress in lengthening my muscles. When I take too much time off, my body tightens back up again. Even if your stretch session only lasts for a few minutes before bed, take the time to do it. You’d be amazed at how quickly your body will respond.
Take It Slow
- Not staying in one pose long enough
- Moving too quickly
- Bouncing instead of holding
One of my best friends used to take dance classes when she was younger. She told me that her ballet teacher would instruct the class to hold a stretch for 3-5 minutes each… and her flexibility improved dramatically. When you allow yourself to sit in a stretch comfortably for a few minutes instead of bouncing from pose to pose, your muscles will start to relax and you will receive more flexy benefits. If you’ve never tried this kind of slow stretching before, I would highly recommend signing up for a restorative yoga class. It’s the “yin” to a Vinyasa power yoga’s “yang.”
Listen To Your Body
One of the things I loved most about hosting the Yoga Challenge was seeing how everyone reacted to the daily poses. Of course I can appreciate when a pose is executed flawlessly, but I was more impressed by how some people chose to modify the poses to fit their practice. It’s so important to listen to your body and not push yourself! The last thing you want is to tear a muscle, sprain your wrists, dislocate a joint or cause painful injuries to your spinal cord. Be patient! Flexibility does not happen over night.
Proper alignment is KEY to not only keeping yourself safe but also getting the most out of each pose. When we are pushing our bodies into postures that are not natural to us, some muscles will compensate for the lack of flexibility in other muscles. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of how each pose should be executed before attempting them. When you’re doing yoga at home, keep yourself in check by asking a series of questions that are relevant for each pose: Are my hips squared? Is my back flat? Are my knees directly above my ankles? Is my foot flexed? Am I straining my neck?
If you can’t execute a pose correctly it’s better to modify it than to strain yourself and risk injury.
Along with the tips above, try incorporating these 5 poses into your stretch routine every day and see if you feel a difference! You’ll be touching those toes in no time. If you have any tips on how you improve your flexibility, please let me know in the comments below! I love hearing from you guys.
As always, thanks for reading! Until next time.
*Please note that I am not a certified yoga instructor. All tips provided are solely gained from my own personal practice.