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Being flexible through yoga and it's importance in our daily life

25th January 2018

Being flexible through yoga and it's importance in our daily life
The benefits of being flexible and how important it is in our daily life.

For more than 25 years I have observed extraordinary variations in ability and flexibility. So when the invariable response I get when I say I am a yoga teacher is - ‘I can’t possibly do yoga, I’m so inflexible!’ My response is - 'that is exactly why you should be doing yoga!' If you’re stiff and inflexible now, then what will you be like in years to come?

I am far from being naturally flexible. I spent many years playing ball games and thought, as most cardio junkies do, that yoga would be much too slow for me. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Yoga builds strength, stamina, mobility, flexibility and muscle tone.

It nourishes your internal organs through twists, inversions, forward bends and back arches.

It quietens the mind and helps to develop clarity and better judgements in daily life.

My early exposure to yoga as a child came in the form of my mother and her friends practising in their leotards. It all looked so slow and unremarkable. Perhaps this early impression, and a body that isn’t naturally bendy combined to help me enjoy teaching yoga so much now. I understand how challenging it can be to achieve certain postures and to focus your mind. Yoga is so different from the other activities in our busy and demanding lives. It’s fundamentally non-competitive nature restores and energises us, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

One of the joys of yoga is that progress happens quickly. Our bodies begin to understand what is required in individual postures or asanas and the change is noticeable. Like with anything, the more you practice, the more you’ll improve. I teach around 120 people a week and many of them come twice. If my students can’t make my classes, I encourage them to practice at home by following easy routines suitable to all abilities on YouTube (Fenella Lindsell) or through other resources.

Yoga is about stretching and recognising when to challenge oneself and when to stop. It combines movement with breath. This combination will naturally help to reduce tension in our muscles and can also develop clarity in our thinking. A stiff and uncomfortable body gives rise to tension in the head, neck, shoulders and lower back, often making us feel uncomfortable and short-fused. A relaxed body helps to develop a more focused and calm mind.

We are born with an innate flexibility, you only need to observe how effortlessly children move to see that this is true. As we grow our sedentary lifestyles breed lazy bodies, muscles begin to atrophy and our joints become more restricted in their range of movement.

Even if you are very active, your body will stiffen with age and the connective tissue, which binds and encapsulates muscle fibres, will dehydrate over time. By the time you reach adulthood you will lose around 15% of the moisture content in your connective tissue, which makes it more susceptible to injury. The muscle fibres begin to stick to each other which prevent the parallel muscle fibres from moving independently. Over time these get bound up with collagenous connective tissue which makes them even less mobile.

But it’s not all gloom and doom…. Stretching delays this process of dehydration by producing tissue lubricants which rebuild muscle into healthier parallel cellular structures. Through yoga, you are also stimulating the synovial fluid around the joints which can be helpful in keeping them mobile and pain-free.

Muscles are organs with specialised functions, they work specifically in movement, contracting and stretching to facilitate the variety of postures required in our daily lives and our yoga practice! In the next few blogs, I will focus on the skeletal muscles.

We need to stretch and strengthen all of the muscles in our bodies by taking them through flexion (forward bend), extension (back arches), rotation (twists) and lateral stretches. Yoga naturally combines these movements in a creative and rewarding practice. It is suitable for all ages and stages of life and can be adapted to suit the individual’s needs.

By combining stretching, with breathing and relaxation we are helped to experience the world in a more open-minded way. It lends clarity to the way we see things and we feel calmer. Yoga keeps us flexible in mind as well as the body.

Fenella Lindsell
Yoga Forever