How to Do Yoga If You Don’t Have Natural Flexibility
When starting to practice yoga, many people encounter this problem: their level of stretching prevents them from performing the desired asanas. And for some people, the first failure even becomes a reason to give up the practice.
In this article, you will learn how to approach yoga if you lack flexibility and how to develop it as quickly as possible.
The types of yoga
In addition to an active physical practice (hatha yoga), one can practice breathing techniques (pranayama) or meditation in yoga. Yoga classes will be referred to as such in either situation. However, in the 19th century, there was an internal “break” between yogis who exclusively practiced meditation and yogis who developed their physical bodies.
Improving your health and longevity is closely linked to working on your physical body and building flexibility. That’s why only meditation is not enough.
Is it possible to be naturally flexible?
The next important point to consider is that all people are born flexible, but without proper practice, this ability deteriorates with age. If you pay attention to it throughout your life, you can not only stay flexible, but also keep the brain, internal organs, cardiovascular, lymphatic, and nervous systems healthy. Of course, the sooner a person begins to practice, the greater their health and life expectancy will be.
In ancient times, a man was very mobile and performed many activities daily to maintain the flexibility of the body. However, we now move less and spend more time sitting, causing some muscles to lose tone and atrophy while others, on the other hand, become hypertonic as a result of persistent static load and stress. The sedentary life begins to haunt us from childhood. Children increasingly sit with phones in their hands or with laptops, then during the school years, they sit doing their homework. Then comes adulthood and most people spend their time working in the office at the computer. But your health can already start to improve in the teenage years, for example, ask for help with homework from friends or top essay writer from online essay writing service, and already have free time to go to do physical activity.
Gradually, the body develops a feeling of tightness and rigidity, and the muscles tighten, “squeezing” the blood vessels and nerve receptors, causing many pain impulses to enter the brain. The neurological system reacts by redistributing the burden on internal organs and other muscles, which can lead to disease.
What impacts the flexibility
Stretching is thought to be the most effective way to maintain flexibility, which also keeps the skin and muscles looking young and supple.
Let’s consider the stretching mechanism in more detail. The fact is that the ability to stretch is limited not only by muscles but also by connective tissue – fascia, tendons, and ligaments.
Fascia is a thin tissue that envelops all muscles and is made up of collagen, an elastic protein with around 70% water content. Fascia has ten times the number of nerve endings as muscles. The fascia stiffens when you move less and spend more time in the same posture, squeezing the muscles and decreasing their flexibility and ability to stretch.
Tendons are the dense connective tissue that connects muscles to bones and helps in the transfer of muscle force. Collagen is also found in tendons. Tendons are denser and more localized than the thin fascia that surrounds all of the body’s muscles and forms a single system. They are particularly sensitive to stretching, despite their strength. Stretching a tendon by 4% can rip it or permanently lengthen it, leaving it unable to return to its former position. As a result, avoid making any rapid and uncomfortable stretching movements.
Ligaments are dense connective tissue that binds together bones or internal organs Ligaments, unlike tendons, are more elastic and flexible, but have low strength. Ligaments provide joint stability by connecting the bones in the joint pouches. Although they are not attached to muscles, they are crucial in the development of flexibility. Also, avoid performing stretches with abrupt movements.
How to develop flexibility
Try one of the most common yoga poses, paschimottanasana. In a sitting position, tilt the body forward, clasping your feet with your palms, and linger in this position for a few seconds, trying to straighten your legs. You will immediately feel a stretch in the muscles of your legs and along your spine. If you can hold the pose for 100 seconds, the fascia, muscles, tendons, and ligaments will remember this position and stretch a little easier in the future.
The body tenses automatically during inhalation, making stretching harder. On the one hand, exhalation with simultaneous abdominal retraction allows you to tilt your body forward more deeply; on the other hand, it relaxes the muscles and nervous system, lowering pain and improving muscle stretching.
This stretching technique is based on the usage of nerve circuits and has been used in yoga since ancient times. Reciprocal inhibition is the term for this type of inhibition. When we contract and stress one muscle, the antagonist, or opposing muscle, stretches. When you tighten the quadriceps muscle (quadriceps), you relax the posterior thigh muscles (biceps), which improves leg muscular stretch.
Nerve and muscle spindles and smooth stretching
The neurological system is the most significant constraint to flexibility. Neuromuscular spindles (NMW) are specific sensors found in all muscles that monitor sudden and intense muscle lengthening (stretching). The neuromuscular spindles provide a signal to the brain when a rapid or protracted stretch occurs, causing a muscle contraction in reverse – this is the body’s protection system. That’s why, when stretching, you should never use rapid movements because they can cause reflex muscle contractions, which can lead to damage.
Stretching slowly and smoothly permits the neuromuscular spindles to become accustomed to the strain, lowering the risk of nervous system backlash.
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation or deception of the nervous system
Another strategy to get flexibility as rapidly as possible is to use this method. We fool the nervous system by not totally stretching the muscles, holding tension in them for 10 seconds, then relaxing them, and so on multiple times, gradually stretching more and more. The nervous system in this scenario believes there is no danger and does not react.
We calm the nervous system and convince it of safety by stretching the muscles and smiling at the same time, telling ourselves how good it feels, feeling the movement of energy through the cells of the body, imagining bright and warm moments of life, feeling pleasure and relaxation.
When stretching, the most important thing to remember is to avoid doing thoughtless mechanical actions.
Of course, developing flexibility in an hour or even a day is unrealistic. You will quickly achieve the desired flexibility if you practice yoga at least three times a week or every day, control your breath, concentrate on your feelings, listen to your body, relax it as much as possible, freeing the mind from unnecessary thoughts, and maintaining a positive mindset.