...why is it so important?
Most aerobic and strength training programs inherently cause your muscles to contract and flex. Weight training shortens your muscles and builds up lactic acid, which will make you feel tight and sore. Engaging in regular stretching is a powerful and essential part of any exercise program as it helps to lengthen your muscles, tendons, tissue and more, making them more supple and leaving you feeling more open and balanced.
Consider the many benefits yoga may bring to your life: (listed here in the most abbreviated fashion, but we will explore the amazing benefits of yoga in further detail in upcoming posts)
Yoga increases flexibility. Flexible muscles can improve your daily overall emotional and physical performance. Tasks such as lifting packages, a brisk walk, bending to tie your shoes or playing with your kids become easier and less exhausting.
Yoga improves the range of motion of your joints. Good range of motion keeps you in better balance, which will help keep you mobile and less prone to falls - and the related injuries, especially as you age. Learning how to "oil" your joints is key.
Yoga improves circulation. It increases blood flow to your muscles and organs. Improved circulation can speed recovery after muscle strain or injury.
Yoga relieves stress. Yoga relaxes tense muscles and fascia that often accompany stress. Some people are more flexible than others, while not everyone has to be able to do the splits, it's really just about staying in a healthy range of motion with our bodies. We can increase our flexibility with certain exercises, but the introspection and deep reach of flexibility can only be reached through yoga.
By using your own body to create resistance and energy, you can continuously improve and maintain a healthy range of motion and core strength throughout your body. Maintaining flexibility can mean that if you fall, you may avoid or limit severe injury, by investing time in staying flexible you are able to react quicker and brace yourself more nimbly. Flexibility significantly reduces the risk of injury, regardless of age, gender or weight.
As a yoga instructor and long time practitioner, I believe that flexibility helps to provide a better quality of life by increasing relaxation and creating focus, both mentally and physically. It most certainly helps in reducing muscle tensions and soreness, as well as posture improvement.
You must be patient, compassionate and loving with yourself - learning to be one within your divine self takes time - never rush, never judge - just enjoy your journey!
namaste - Jo