Also referred to as the Range of Motion (ROM), Flexibility is a key component of health and fitness. For those who have less ROM or flexibility are prone to more injuries and joint pains as the body is not capable of moving to the fullest potential. Less flexibility has negative affects on the body and they can cause problems both in the long and short run. It is important to improve the flexibility of the body, not just for preventing pain or injuries but for a healthy body and mind. Flexibility not only makes you gain immense strength but also promises you a healthier life.
Here are 7 tips which will help improve your flexibility:
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- Balance the body
A number of people believe that one side of their body is more flexible than the other. In this case, they try postures which are easy on the easier side. So, it is important to provide more attention to the side which is less flexible. Modify your stretching schedule and spend more time in targeting the less flexible side of your body. With doing this, you will be able to achieve flexibility for the entire body, which will be rightly called a flexible body.
- Use the breath
Using the breath in right way is important while performing any asana of Yoga or normal stretching. It is important to breathe slowly and deeply when doing stretching. This helps in relaxing the body and making it feel more comfortable while going into deep stretches and postures.
Also, if an individual maintains a balance between their inhalation and exhalation with their movements, then they can easily go into deeper yoga postures with time. With deep inhalations, people can easily backbend like Ustrasana or Urdhva Danurasana which need wide shoulders and open chest. Exhalations on the other hand help in moving easily when it comes to forward bends like in Upavista Konasana.
- Change your diet
It is believed that switching to a more alkaline diet leads to increased flexibility. To improve flexibility, it is important to intake lots of green vegetables, fresh fruits, spices like ginger and turmeric, herbal teas, nuts and seeds. It is very important to reduce or eliminate the intake of items like alcohol, sugar, caffeine, processed foods and animal based products.
- Focus on specific areas
There is a specific area in every individual’s body where it feels naturally tight. You may at times also feel that this particular area of the body will never become flexible. Some common areas include shoulders and hips. So, in such areas, we always feel very tight and tend to avoid postures which require flexibility in these areas and do poses which are easy to perform. The lack of flexibility in such areas makes our stiff areas stiffer.
So, we need to focus on the stiff areas instead of avoiding them while stretching. Postures like Baddha Kohasana (butterfly), Rajakapotasana (pigeon), Janu-sirsasana and Paschimottansana are effective in making common stiff areas of the body more flexible.
- Don’t force it
Traditionally, we are taught that flexibility requires much force and at times it can become a bit painful. Flexibility demands for force as there is a need to stretch the muscles of the body. However, it is important to understand that the force required is not only physical but also mental.
The reason why flexibility demands for tight muscles is that the mind starts thinking that as there is a need to protect the body from pain and injury, the muscles must be tensed up while stretching. But it is okay to tense up the body muscles only if your body is used to regular stretching. Those who keep on forcing the body muscles to a certain limit may have to face negative effects of it in future. This is why, it is important to ensure that you don’t end up forcing your body into the practice of stretching. If you constantly keep on forcing your body while getting into postures, your body will never be able to understand that it is safe to go deeper into postures.
So the key point is that stay relaxed and calm while stretching your body. This will really help when you indulge in stretching the next day as your body will remember a comfortable feeling. In future, this will help you in gaining more flexibility.
- Be Patient
Never ever think that as soon as you indulge in stretching, you will start getting positive results and improve flexibility overnight. Like the body slowly gets stiff, it takes time to open it up again. Be patient, believe in yourself and stay positive. Your body takes to accept anything positive or negative. This is all what you require for achieving positive and quick results.
- Try Yin Yoga
For those who were indulged in activities like Power Yoga or Vinyasa Yoga which focus on holding poses for some time need to change to a slower style of Yoga, which is known as Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga focuses on developing muscular flexibility. This style of yoga includes long holding of static poses which slowly release all the tension in your connective and face tissue- which is called ‘Yin tissue’. This particular movement is important not only for flexibility but also for healthy joints. No matter how flexible are your muscles, if there is tension in the connective tissue surrounding your joints then you won’t be able to achieve complete flexibility.
Try these 7 steps and let us know if it helped improve your flexibility!