Although a quick scroll through your social media feed might lead you to think otherwise, yoga is about more than pretzel-like poses. The physical postures or asana are one of yoga’s eight limbs and a typical class includes asana together with breathing exercises and meditation.
You don’t need fancy leggings, an expensive mat, or to be able to stand on your hands to practise yoga. You don’t even need to be able to touch your toes!
In fact, it is often said that yoga isn’t about being able to touch your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down. I agree wholeheartedly yet I also know flexibility is one of the first things to go as we age so, the less flexible you are, the more you stand to gain from yoga.
5 reasons why flexibility is important
1. Prevent injury
2. Increase mobility
Flexibility of your muscles and mobility of your joints go hand-in-hand. Yoga helps by nourishing and hydrating the muscles and joints, and maintaining elasticity of the tendons and ligaments.
3. Enhance posture and reduce pain
An intelligent yoga practice will address the muscular and postural imbalances caused by the demands of modern lifestyle by stretching the muscles that are tight and strengthening those that are weak. When your muscles and bones are correctly aligned you are less likely to experience head, neck or back pain.
4. Make every day tasks easier
A good range of motion makes every day activities such as playing with your children, cleaning the house, gardening, getting in and out of the car easier.
5. Decrease stress
When you are stressed, your muscles are often tight and tense. Taking time to stretch your body in a slow, mindful way interrupts the fight or flight response: your muscles relax, your heart rate slows down and you feel more calm.
Yoga is suitable for everyBODY
Regardless of your age, level of fitness or how tight your hamstrings are, focus on what you can do and, over time, you’ll notice your physical (and mental) flexibility increase. With regular practise, you may experience other benefits such as:
- a strong core
- healthy spine and back
- increased energy and productivity
- reduction of stress, anxiety and depression
- better quality sleep.
And the good news is that you don’t have to do a lot to reap the benefits! Doing 10 minutes of yoga every day is more effective than doing an hour-long class once a week.
This post originally appeared in the June/July edition of Loving Nundah.