5 Ways to Improve Flexibility Through Yoga
When people think of flexibility, I think they tend to only associate it with dancers, runners and gymnasts. Who else could possibly need to stretch their muscles in that way, right? Contrary to popular belief, flexibility is something that is very beneficial to everyone.
According to CNN, flexibility is one of the three pillars of fitness, alongside cardiovascular conditioning and strength training. It is essential to truly maintaining good bodily health, and plays a large part in:
- Avoidance of arthritis
- Lowering risk of stroke and heart disease
- Improving circulation
One of the most popular ways of increasing your level of flexibility is through yoga. This type of exercise is not as concerned with cardiovascular exertion as other forms of exercise, and is centered more on improving bodily stability and the work capacity of muscles.
There are 5 major ways that yoga can help improve flexibility. These include:
- Connecting breath with movement. Focusing on your breahting patterns allows not only your mind to relax but also your muscles. Pay special attention to exhales, as those are what really prevent muscles from tightening up. The more you allow your muscles to relax, the more room they will have to lengthen.
- Be steady when holding poses. If you allow yourself to bounce while holding poses, the brain believes that your body is injured and causes the “injured” muscles to tighten up. Be as steady as possible to maximize the depth of each stretch.
- Incorporate props for more challenging poses. To help you fully get into your poses, you can use yoga straps or blocks (towels work too). When your muscles are tight it can be difficult to attain postures with good alignment, this is when using props can be helpful; they are wonderful instruments for increasing flexibility.
- Use restorative yoga postures. These poses are ones that implement the use of blankets and pillows to support the body. These comfortable tools can be used to allow the muscles to fully relax, as you don’t have to hold yourself in the poses.
- Attend a heated yoga class. When your muscles are warm, they are much more receptive to stretches. By going to a heated yoga class, you are continuously immersed in a warm environment; this means that your muscles can be more easily stretched and lengthened, thus improving flexibility.
Do you enjoy yoga? What are other favorite ways of staying flexible?
Photo credit: domestictimes