Flexibility – use it or lose it
People often think of yoga when you mention flexibility. And I often hear people say that they can’t do yoga because they are not flexible. I tell them that is the reason to do yoga – to become more flexible and to maintain your flexibility.
There is also a group of people that have taken a yoga class (or maybe a few classes) and say they didn’t like it. When I hear this, I want to better understand what yoga class(es) they tried, how long ago, where they took the class, etc. There are so many options when it comes to yoga, just like there are so many options when it comes to exercise. I encourage you to really test it out trying several studios, instructors, and styles.
Now, while any yoga will help with flexibility, there are some specific types of classes that you may want to focus on first. Give them a try. No, give them several tries to really know whether they are right for you or not.
Yin – A Yin yoga class is appropriate for any level yoga student. I have learned that there are two approaches to Yin yoga. One approach centers around stillness and holding postures for several minutes while the other approach centers around a combination of stillness and movement. Rather than holding a posture for a set amount of time, you may hold as long as it is comfortable and then switch to the other side, continuing to switch back and forth. Both approaches are meant for you to relax into the posture so you stretch and loosen deep connective tissue.
Hot Yoga – Just as yoga, there are numerous styles of hot yoga available, so don’t try one and give up on hot yoga. Now, if you know that you just don’t handle the heat well, skip hot yoga or look for a class that is warm opposed to hot. One of the most common hot yoga classes available is Bikram yoga which is the same 26 postures at any studio you go to world-wide. This is good if you like a set routine and want to know what to expect in every class. A benefit to hot yoga is that your muscles are warm from the heat in the room.
As I said, there are many styles of yoga. These are just two that can really help your flexibility. Additionally, I believe you will reap other benefits from a regular yoga practice.
The fact is, you don’t need to do yoga for flexibility. If you have a stretching routine that you do consistently, that will also help you become more flexible. The key is to make sure your muscles are warmed up before you stretch.
This ACE Fitness article – To Stretch or Not To Stretch? – talks about whether you should stretch before or after exercise.
Here is a great infographic from Elite Men’s Guide on stretches to perform after exercise. You can also go to their site and watch the videos on each stretch.
How do you stay flexible?