Four facts about flexibility that every Yogi should know

We are all unique. We look different, our genetic background is diverse, and the way we are built is very different as well. But I daresay we yogis have one thing in common—the wish to become more flexible!

What is flexibility? We often believe that by practicing yoga enough, we can achieve the flexibility we desire. While we may make great progress, we often overlook all of the factors that contribute to our flexibility.

Flexibility is a complex subject. Let’s look at some facts about flexibility, which all yogis need to know.

Do you know what stops you: tension or compression?

Two factors come into play when we consider physical restrictions or flexibility: tension and compressive force. When tissues in the body cannot stretch, stress occurs. This is commonly felt as tightness of muscles. The tightness is found in the fascia, tendons, and joint capsules.

Where can you feel tension? On the opposite side. You will feel pressure on the back of your legs, for example, when you bend forward. If stress is limiting your range of motion, you can do it with practice.

In contrast, compression occurs when a body part is in contact with another, preventing further movement. This can be the most severe form of reduction, where two bones press against each other and prevent any action. A softer form of removal is when the stomach’s flesh hits the thighs and limits movement.

What is compression? While tension is felt on the opposite side, contraction is felt along the direction. The discomfort or pain of limitation can be felt in a small area. If a reduction is stopping us, we need to either find a solution (modify our poses) or accept that certain poses are not for us.

It’s vital to our mental-physical health that we find out what is stopping you from extending your poses. Try to determine where your flexibility is restricted. We can’t change our bone structure, so we need to learn to let go and not be attached to the poses that we cannot do.

Fascia Can Restrict Us More in Movement Than Muscle

Connective tissue is all around us. Fascia is everywhere. It’s under the skin and surrounds the muscles and inner organs. It houses fat cells. And it’s connected to our nervous system. Due to the fascia matrix that runs throughout the body, tightness can affect a larger area.

Fascia can stay contracted for much longer than muscles. Fascia is responsible for many persistent neck, shoulder, and lower back pains. Why is this important? Stretching the fascia like you would, muscle fibers will not work.

Fascia requires longer static stretches, like those found in Yin Yoga, to be able to release and lengthen. It pays tonot to ignore your fascia, as it is a major factor in determining posture and ranges of motion. Plus, it is connected to your nervous system.

Your Nervous System Can Make Your Body Tighter

The nervous system is often overlooked when we practice yoga, but its impact on flexibility is significant. The nervous system is involved with muscle and fascia (there are actually ten times as many nerve endings on our fascia as there are on our strengths). It’s there to give feedback to our brain and monitor our stress levels.

The autonomic nervous system reacts to changes in our body tissues by either increasing or decreasing muscle tone.

When we are stressed, our nervous system works with our immune system in order to fight any infections that we might have. This is an ideal short-term situation. When stress becomes chronic, our immune system may malfunction, and we can become chronically inflamed. What is the impact on our flexibility? The body can release water between tissues during an inflammation, causing our tissues to swell.

The same respect should be shown to emotional and psychological limits as to physical limitations.

Our emotions and movements are connected to our bodies, so they both affect our emotional responses. We can do emotional damage by pushing ourselves to the edge, just as we can hurt our bodies by going too fast.

This is why you may have had a strong emotional reaction after certain yoga poses. You may have experienced a strong emotion following certain yoga poses.

It would be best if you never tried to force progress. Respect the limits we are given. They’re there to protect and benefit you.

Next time you feel unflexible in a class, remember all the systems in your body that work together. Understanding your bones, learning about fascia, and recognizing that your nervous and immune systems, age, and experience are all part of your flexibility is more than just stretching your hamstrings.

Stop looking around in yoga class. No one is built the same as you. Concentrate on the purpose of the poses that you are performing and not their appearance. You should feel it. It is important to focus on your personal development.

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