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There are many reasons to do yoga. When I ask people interested in yoga what they hope to achieve from yoga, so far everyone has replied that they want to become more flexible. Being more flexible isn't the only reason people take up yoga, but as I said before, it seems to be a concern for everyone.

Why some are naturally more agile than others has already been discussed in another post. That (almost) everyone can learn a split with the right training has been explained too. But how?

That stretching is the answer comes as no surprise - although some seem oddly disappointed about it. However, it’s not generally known that there are seven types of stretching:ballistic stretching, dynamic stretching, active stretching, passive (or relaxed) stretching, static stretching, isometric stretching, and PNF stretching.

It’s not the purpose of this text to explain these various methods in detail though. It would take a lot of space and make it complicated ;)

In yoga, you will find a lot of active, passive, and static, sometimes also dynamic stretching. These forms of stretching are good for anyone interested in stress relief and well-being, as passive stretching can also relieve minor tension and have a calming effect. Active, static, and dynamic stretching are well suited to improve the mobility of the joints in the long term, i.e. to become more flexible.

However, if you want to see great progress in your mobility as quickly and efficiently as possible, you should turn to isometric and PNF stretching…

Complicated enough? - In fact, there is a lot of science behind stretching - as there is for strength building and like just about anything else humans can do. It is however, not necessary to deal with stretching in such depth in order to make progress in one's own mobility.

Unless you have a specific health problem, you can improve your mobility by:

  1. Moving - obviously ;) Warm muscles and warm connective tissue can be stretched better and more safely. Warming up is important. Dynamic stretching is ideal for this.

  2. Stretching a little every day: about 20 minutes a day is ideal. But: it is better to stretch 5 minutes every day or 15 minutes every other day than not at all! Stretching at least two to three times a week is required to see lasting improvements.

  3. Stretching without pain. You stay in the stretch for 10-20 seconds (depending on the technique, sometimes a little longer) with calm, regular breathing, in such a way that it is no longer exactly “pleasant”, but it doesn’t hurt either. This stretch is repeated about 3 to 6 times. In between, contracting the stretched muscles again helps.

This list of stretching tips is not exhaustive. But the most important thing is there: If you want to be more mobile, you have to do something about it. Don't be disappointed if you tried and failed to achieve a split in a one-time stretching session. Don’t give up. Rather build a regular practice. Once you’ve trained yourself to do the splits, you must continue to practice them, otherwise, this ability will slowly deteriorate again.

There's no telling exactly how long it will be before someone can touch the ground with their hands from a standing position with their legs and back straight. Many factors play a role in this. But it's safe to say that anyone without serious health limitations will be able to touch the ground with regular exercise.

The three tips for stretching should make it easy for you to focus on the essentials. But it can be a bit more complicated when it comes to good technique to make safe and sustainable progress. This shouldn't discourage you from stretching, but rather encourage you to at least treat yourself to a yoga class every now and then ;) or seek support from another movement expert.

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#yogapeople #asanaalchemist #youneedayogaclass #flexibility #mobility #stretching #sodeep #yogawinterthur


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