By Clyde Granger
Reasons for inflexibility are many. Repetitive motion, time of day, skeletal compression, pre-existing injury, and tensile tension head the list of reasons. Yoga teachers, who have exceptional flexibility, may have difficulty understanding why students have a difficult time with asanas, unless they also struggled with inflexibility.
Aging and Flexibility
With age, bodies tend to lose flexibility. Joints tighten up, muscles seem to constrict, and the ability to perform certain tasks naturally just about disappears. Watch how young people pick an item off the floor compared to people age 40 and above. The ability to just squat and get back up doesn’t come as naturally in older adults.
However, Yoga turns the tables on inflexibility. Middle aged and older adults like Yoga because it does loosen up the joints as it unites the mind and spirit. Getting into the poses may be difficult at first, and holding them more than a second seems impossible. As time goes on, everything gets lose and limber, and once again the body is moving like it should be.
Yoga and Flexibility
A child’s nursery rhyme states: “to bend and stretch, reach for the stars.” That is what Yoga is like. Yoga teaches flexibility and balance. Flexibility is part of good health. It will strengthen the muscles that support the body, which will be beneficial for balance and prevention of injuries to the skeleton. Muscles and ligaments that are well stretched protect the body during movement, balance, and daily posture.
A tight body compresses a tight spirit and mind. Being afraid of movement transforms a life into one of stillness and motionless. Being flexible and sure of movement is an expression of seeking new things and opportunities, which is a positive sign of an open mind and heart.
Yoga Poses for Flexibility and Strength
Open up the chest with the bridge pose, warrior poses (how powerful they are), or the camel pose.
Legs become strong and flexible with the downward facing dog or revolved triangle pose.
Strengthen arms, chest, shoulders and back with plank pose.
Shoulders are stretched with the cobra or eagle pose.
Hips will gain flexibility from the pigeon, extended side angle, and the cow face pose.
All of these anatomical Yoga poses increase range of flexibility, strength, and end or reduce the pain of sore joints, backs, hips, shoulders, and knees. Medical professionals are recommending Yoga for patients that complain of chronic back, hip, and knee pain.
By gently stretching the body and holding Yoga poses the muscles and ligaments naturally lengthen while releasing tension. The Yoga practitioner will find that standing and sitting for in postures for longer periods is gradually easier with regular practice.
Yoga does not just exercise the body. There is a mindful spiritual connection to the practice that adds flexibility to the mind and soul. Knowing the deeper benefits of this practice, teachers should learn all that is possible about Yoga anatomy to help inflexible students become confident students. Once again, continuing education is the key to better and more compassionate Yoga teachers.
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