When you see someone performing yoga, you have an automatic thought; “this person must be flexible”. Or when we see someone who is quite flexible, the first question to the person is; “Do you practice yoga?” It is because everyone knows that yoga asanas make your body flexible. But then you wonder, "How does yoga work for flexibility?" What is the relation between yoga and flexibility?
Come on; get into the knowledge pool to know all about yoga for flexibility.
Why flexibility is important?
Yoga helps you to add flexibility and strength in your body. Hundreds of people practice yoga just with the goal of attaining a flexible body. It is fairly right because flexibility is important due to a number of reasons.
Some of them are as follows:
- Flexibility increases the range of movement of your muscles and joints.
- It helps to improve body posture.
- It facilitates muscle tension and soreness.
- A flexible body does other exercises like Cardio, Zumba, Aerobics, etc efficiently.
- It helps to avert injuries like muscle strains, shoulder tweaks, and backaches.
- Flexibility increases body strength by stretching the body and muscles
- It helps to carry out physical work better than before.
- Also, it helps in efficient blood circulation, especially through muscles and joints.
Relation between Yoga and Flexibility
People have this hugely mistaken notion that only a person with a slim, lean, and flexible body can practice yoga. Yes! Yes! It is not true. This is the beauty of yoga that it is for everyone.
However, there is no doubt in the fact that yoga can make your body quite flexible. This is the reason many sportsperson and athletes can be seen practicing yoga because a flexible body is their requirement.
If you remember then our very first question was What is the relation between yoga and flexibility? The answer is the relation between these two is quite intimate.
Let’s understand it via the following points:
- Yoga helps you to improve your flexibility if you choose the right aspect of yoga.
- For example, sitting for hours in meditation would not give you a flexible body.
- Proper asanas help you to achieve the desired flexibility.
- If your body is flexible then yoga helps you to make it more efficient and adds strength to your body.
- Added strength and flexibility also help you to do cardio, weightlifting, and other kinds of heavy workouts.
How does yoga work to make the body flexible?
Yoga makes the body flexible and it has science behind it, not plain stretch exercises. Yoga uses asanas very precisely to make the body flexible without injuring any part or organ. It uses certain ways and approaches to make the body supple.
Alignment, Attention, and Consciousness are three approaches through which yoga arrives at flexibility. These approaches are the reason that set flexibility through yoga apart from sheer stretching.
A right and precise pose is very crucial in practicing any asana. How much a body should align or position in a specific asana is core to make the most of your yoga practice. This immensely helps the body to be flexible without any injuries. While the stiff areas start to open up progressively, proper props are used in required body areas in order to sustain stiffness and prevent any injury.
While practicing asanas to make your body flexible, be attentive enough to understand the body signal. Your body knows when something strange occurs to it and gives you warning signs.
Try to be considerate to understand what your body is trying to indicate.
Try to recognize the difference between the uneasiness due to a new asana or the pain that is indicating to stop your practice immediately. It is very important to be attentive to your body indications because only you can understand what your body is trying to tell you.
It is very important to keep your mind at the moment. While you practice your asana, you should feel each and every move that will lead to the goal of your body flexibility through yoga. You will know how much your flexibility has improved through yoga only if you will have your consciousness during your yoga practice.
Time Period to Practice Yoga for Flexibility
If you want to achieve flexibility, or in case anything through yoga then you need to practice yoga regularly. Consistency and discipline are essential to practice yoga. There is no fix time period to practice yoga to attain flexibility. Yoga is called yoga practice because of the reason that it is a journey and not a goal. Yoga is about enjoying the path and not reaching the final destination.
But if you want to practice yoga for flexibility, you can join any 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training OR 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. A yoga TTC can help you in lots of ways under the guidance of an experienced teacher.
So keep practicing and keep improving.
Yoga Asanas for Flexibility
Some yoga asanas that can be practiced to achieve flexibility are as follows:
Malasana- Garland Pose
Malasna stretches the hamstrings, inner thighs, sacrum, and lower back. It helps to improve posture and makes the knees and ankles flexible.
Steps to practice Malasana:
- Stand with your feet a few inches away from each other
- Bend your knees and take a squat position
- Now breathe out and incline in order to get your torso snug between your thighs
- While taking Anjali Mudra pose, make sure your elbows put some pressure on your inner thighs.
- Press your inner thighs next to your torso.
- Extend your arms in a way that the shins will reach near your underarms.
- Hold the position for 8-10 seconds, and breathe out before coming back to the initial position.
Gomukhasana- (Cow Face Pose)
Gomukhasana stretches arms, shoulders, hips, and chest. It is an ideal asana for the people who spend their whole day working in the sitting position.
Steps to practice Gomukhasana:
- Kneel down. Just over your left knee, cross your right leg above your left leg
- Keep your right foot’s top on the ground next to the left ankle
- Breathe out and sit toward the back against your heels while keeping your thighs and feet together.
- Get your left arm straight up; bend your elbow while carrying your left hand to the backside of the neck.
- Raise your right arm, bend the elbow and take the arm up and hold onto both the hands.
- Make sure that right elbow is pointing upwards and the left elbow downwards while smoothly drawing your arms in opposite directions.
- Hold the posture for 5-8 breaths, then breath out and come back to the initial position
- Repeat again switching the legs and arms.
Uttanasana- Standing Forward Bend
Uttanasana stretches the hamstrings, shins hips and back. It improves digestion by providing massage to the abdominal organs.
Steps to practice Uttanasana:
- Stand straight, put your hands on your hips and breathe in
- Breathe out, slightly curve your knees and bend forward while moving down through the hips
- Place your hands on the ground, or adjacent to your feet.
- Expand your chest to extend the spine and make sure to look always in forward direction
- Hold this position for few seconds
- To be back in the initial position, rise very slowly and stand up.
Adho Mukha Svanasana- Downward Facing Dog
Adho Mukha Svanasana strengthens legs, stretches the shoulders, chest, arms, hips, and feet. It also improves blood circulation in the brain and prevents osteoporosis too.
Steps to practice Adho Mukha Svanasana:
- Position your body on your four limbs
- Breathe out, lift your hips lightly and keep your knees and elbows straight
- Your body will look somewhat like an inverted “V”
- Make sure you’re your hands and shoulders are lined up together
- Afterward, press your hands against the ground while stretching your neck.
- Hold the position as long as you can and then return to your four limbs gently.
- Repeat it 6-8 times
Other than the above-mentioned yoga asanas, the following asanas can be considered too.
- Sucirandhrasana- Eye of the Needle
- Eka Pada Rajakapotasana- Pigeon
- Parsvottanasana- Pyramid Pose
- Sucirandhrasana- Eye of the Needle Pose
- Anjaneyasana- Crescent Lunge
- Ardha Chandrasana- Half Moon Pose
Points to consider before doing yoga for flexibility:
- Do not exert pressure in your body if it is unable to pull an asana, be patient or you will pull some muscle instead of attaining flexibility
- Do not ignore the call of your body, get it what it needs; relaxation, enough sleep or need to take a break
- Being constant is important but over exhausting the body will not lead you anywhere near the flexibility
Your overall body and mind approach matters to the goal of your flexibility. So bring your body and mind together while practicing yoga.