11 Tips to Improve Your Flexibility
Some people tend to stay from yoga because they believe they’re “not flexible enough”? Yoga is in fact one of the best ways to improve your flexibility, even if you’re a total beginner.
It’s hard to know where to start though, especially in today’s world of gymnastic-like yoga craziness. Here’s 11 ways you can begin your yoga journey today and discover improved flexibility.
1) Try a trial membership at a local studio.
Most yoga studios offer introductory specials for new students, ranging from a reduced rate for your first month of membership to a free first class. Take advantage of beginner perks and enjoy some free or cheap classes at a variety of studios in your home town. The more classes, styles, and teachers you try, the more likely you are to find your yoga niche. If you truly enjoy your classes and studio, it will be much easier to accomplish your flexibility goals.
2) Try online yoga videos if your schedule or budget is tight.
Despite the perks of introductory specials, reality is: Yoga is expensive. If you have a limited budget, kiddos at home, or a crazy work schedule, regularly attending classes can seem impossible. Fortunately, we have the internet! There is an amazing assortment of yoga resources available via your smartphone, tablet, computer, or smart TV. You can practice with some of the most famous and knowledgeable yoga instructors in the world almost instantly with online videos.
3) Go for yin yoga.
As far as yoga styles go, yin is one of the most beginner friendly. Most of the poses are done seated or lying down, and each pose is held for 3-5 minutes. The emphasis in yin is on flexibility, and in particular on stretching the fascia, or connective tissue, that covers your muscles and can limit range of motion. Yin classes usually utilize lots of cozy props. The lights are dimmed, the music is relaxing, and there’s incense or essential oils in the air. Hello relaxation!
4) Develop a morning and evening yoga ritual.
After you’ve been practicing for a bit, make a list of 5-10 of your favorite poses and begin performing them each morning right after you wake up and each evening before you go to bed. Many yoga poses can be done while you’re actually in bed! This little extra boost of consistency with your practice can really help to speed up your flexibility results – plus it’s soothing way to start and end your day.
5) Identify your weaknesses and find appropriate resources.
You probably already know your specific challenge areas in terms of flexibility. Whether it’s tight shoulders, rock hard hamstrings, or tense neck muscles, look into finding specific poses and videos to address your challenge areas. You can even ask your teachers if they would be open to structuring a class around your needs. Most teachers are looking for inspiration and interaction and would be happy to accommodate your requests. See the following three tips to help you hone in on your specific needs.
6) If the back of your body is tight, focus on folds.
If you struggle with low back pain, tight hamstrings, and tight calves, focus on folds of all kinds. These include seated and standing folds. You can perform seated folds with straight or crossed legs. Play around with a variety of stances with standing folds, from feet together to feet far apart. Folds allow gravity to create length and muscular release in your entire back body.
7) If your chest and shoulders are tight, focus on shoulder openers.
It’s easy to develop tight chest and shoulder muscles if you work at a computer all day, hold small children regularly, or do a lot of weight lifting focusing on your upper body. For you, shoulder openers are just the ticket. Positions like eagle pose, thread the needle, and puppy pose will create opening around your shoulder joints.
8) If your hips are tight, focus on hip openers.
Tight muscles around the hips are often the biggest problem that guys encounter when trying to improve their flexibility. Fortunately, a huge variety of yoga poses are perfect for hip mobility. Try pigeon pose, fire log pose, and bound angle pose are a good fit for you. Be careful to avoid any twisting at the knees in hip openers and take it nice and slow.
9) Props, props, props!
Don’t shy away from yoga props. Blocks, straps, yoga wheels blankets, bolsters, and even the wall can be used to help you find space, balance, and ease in more advanced poses. Invest in yoga props to use during your home practice and take advantage of any props available at your studio. Don’t be afraid to ask teachers for suggestions on how to incorporate props into poses you find challenging.
10) Stick with something small and consistent.
Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to flexibility. Your joint range of motion will probably not improve much if you attend five yoga classes one week and then none for the rest of the month. Don’t be afraid to start small – even if it’s just one class a week – and build consistency. The hardest part about improving flexibility for most people is finding the time and motivation necessary to stick with the process. Start with something you know you can and will do and add further efforts slowly and deliberately.
11) Take progress pictures.
It’s easy to get discouraged and lose sight of your progress when you’re in the middle of a process. Use the self timer on your phone (or ask a friend or family member to help) and take pictures of yourself performing common yoga poses when you start out. You can even post them to Instagram to make your flexibility journey public. You’ll be amazed at how much improvement you’ll see in a few short months if you stay consistent!