The words flexibility and yoga commonly comes together. Different people have a different idea on yoga and flexibility. What do you think- flexibility is necessary to practice yoga or yoga gives the flexibility? Is flexibility is an innate product or acquired? Is there any relation between health and flexibility? These types of questions keep arising. Normally, the ability to move the joints freely is called flexibility. Flexibility also includes mobility of the muscular system to allow the better movements around the joints. Flexibility has a good relationship with yoga and other stretching exercises. Commonly, there are three misconceptions regarding flexibility and yoga, 1st one is- an only flexible person can do yoga. 2nd is- an only flexible person should do yoga. And 3rd one is only flexible person gets benefits from yoga. In fact, scientific experimental, practical and correct concept of flexibility and yoga are as follows:
- Anyone, whether with a flexible body or inflexible, can practice yoga according to his/her level.
- Not only with a flexible body, but the person with an inflexible person should also practice yoga for better health.
- People with the inflexible body also get benefits from yoga like that of the people with a flexible body.
Yoga and flexibility normally move together as a regular practice of yoga increases flexibility. But it is not that if flexibility is not increased then we won’t get benefits. The benefits of yoga depend on- how one practices yoga. The way of practicing yoga matters on benefits. The techniques that one follows to practice yoga impact on benefits. The methods that one applies for practicing yoga effect on advantages of yoga. The efforts that practitioner executes for
Ø correct body alignment on asana (yoga pose)
Ø holding on the pose for longer duration in a happy mood
Ø equipoise of mind without being affected by pain and pleasure while practicing a yoga pose
Ø breath observation at the holding point
Ø careful linkage of breath while moving from one posture to another
Ø body sensation observation during the pose
Ø subtle energy realization
Ø feelings of energy centers
Ø mindfulness on stretched part of the body during the practice of yoga asana
Ø awareness and consciousness practice
etc. are directly connected with the advantages of yoga practice. Flexibility is a byproduct of yoga practice. Thus, the aim of yoga should never be flexibility. No worry, how much the body is inflexible, one should keep practicing yoga. Now, not only yoga and flexibility or flexibility and yoga should come together but yoga and inflexibility or inflexibility and yoga should also come together. Some people have very less flexibility. Yet, they can get equally benefit from yoga like that of a flexible person if the procedure of practicing yoga asana is correct. In reality, there is no any role of flexibility to get the benefits of Yoga asana. Advantages of Yoga asana are hidden in the way of performing asana. Thus it is always suggested not to be a worry if your body is not flexible.
On the topic “flexibility and yoga”, a question keeps arising which age group people have more flexibility? Commonly, children and younger people have more flexibility, yet an adult and aged people can also attain the same type of flexibility like that of children with regular practice. Many elderly people are seen practicing yoga with better flexibility. Another frequently asked question on topic “yoga and flexibility” is- which gender, male or female, have a more flexible body? Both male and female can have the best flexibility. However, there is a hormone called ‘relaxin’ is found in a female body which eases for better flexibility. But in men, the role of relaxin is not clear. So, the females can reach the extreme of flexibility in lesser time while male requires a comparatively longer period to reach the level like that of a female. Yet, the mindset that the males are poor in flexibility is wrong because males also have won many competitions of flexibility and yoga.
There are some tips to increase the flexibility of the body. These tips not only help for better flexibility but also promote health.
Ø Off course, regular yoga practice, and stretching exercises help to increase flexibility. The practice of holding for longer duration in a pose helps a lot for rapid progress in flexibility.
Ø Use of enough water. Especially early in the morning and before going to bed, drinking water is very good.
Ø Pranayama and meditation makes the synovial fluids to produce at the joints in sufficient amount which helps for extra flexibility. It makes the joints to move freely.
Ø Consumption of natural food, fabric food even brown rice, raw foods, fruits etc all helps to increase flexibility. Taking raw food before 12 pm if very good for both health and flexibility.
Ø One of the easy methods to develop flexibility is fasting. Once in a week, once in 15 days or once in a month according to capacity, fasting not only increases flexibility but also detox the body. If possible stay in water fasting for 24 hours, if it is difficult, you can take little bit fruits.
Ø Over consumption of white salt and white sugar work against flexibility. It is better to avoid white sugar and use brown sugar or sakkar and take sidhe (mineral) salt or black (bire) salt instead of white salt. The consumption of salt should not be more than 5 gram per day.
Ø Excessive use of oily and fried food blocks the flexibility.
Ø Peace of mind, happiness, kindness, etc. are directly proportional to the flexibility. While anger, anxiety, tension, frustration, etc. are inversely proportional to flexibility. But one should not be misguided that a person whose body is not flexible, is unkind or rude. For example, some of the bhakti-yogis do not practice yoga asana and flexibility exercise. So, their body may not be flexible like that of people who practice yoga asana. Yet, a true bhakti yogi is full of love and compassion for all. If such people practice yoga asana, they can achieve rapid progress and flexibility.