Are there any benefits to being flexible? “YES, BUT” would be the perfect answer to that question. Although flexibility helps in many unforeseen ways, it should not be mistaken for contortionist activities.
Why is it important to be flexible?
The best way I can describe flexibility is “The ability to mold your body in a malleable way that will allow you to shape it back the way you like”.
One of the main benefits of flexibility is the ability to explore new dimensions that you would not suspect exist. Having practiced dance for many years, I have realized that we live in a set of paradigms that are just one small part of what seems to be an infinity of paradigms. For example, we might live in a reality that we think is the absolute truth of our life. Then realize through chance, encounter, or self-realization that by shifting or expanding our thoughts or actions, we can enter a completely different set of paradigms.
What does that have to do with the benefits of being flexible
Following the point made above, I realized when I improved the flexibility of my body that, I could create more shapes and forms that I thought were impossible for me to achieve. I had shifted from one situation I took as the absolute truth to another set that offered me plenty of opportunities. Whereby I no longer saw limitations but an abundance of possibilities. In essence, that’s what body isolation exercises are there for. To allow you to command your body to do what you want when you desire it.
Other benefit of being flexible
Another benefit of being flexible is putting “vitality” in every area of your body and mind. Just take the following example. Imagine you had a neck injury where your range of mobility was so restricted that you could only see what was just in front of you. Then compare that with your ability to move your neck from the left side to the right one 180 degrees with great ease. Your whole world would change. Flexibility infuses vitality into your body to allow you to do what you want. The same goes for your arms, legs, etc.
I was watching YouTuber Dr. Beau Hightower’s handling of a mix martial art athlete. For all of his power, this athlete had real difficulties raising his arms up. However, he felt so relieved when he could lift them up to 60% of their capabilities that he thanked the doctor. Meanwhile, I was smiling as I could almost touch my ears with my arms and make both forearms touch each other. That illustrates perfectly the limitation one can have if they are not flexible versus the benefits of being flexible.
The alternative: Not being flexible
Many athletes prioritize strength over flexibility until they have a significant injury that forces them to take baby walks and teach them how to handle their bodies. Why wait for some avoidable injuries to happen when there is a ready solution with flexibility?
# Try that experiment
Seat on a chair all day, watching tv or using the computer. After a few hours, stretch your leg as straight as you can in front of you, then retract the lower leg forming a 90° angle with the tight. Do that a few times. At first, you will feel some pain as you shift the “paradigm” from the “dead” state in which you were in for many hours to the new state where you injected “life” into your legs. Then, you will start feeling your leg tensed with vitality after a while. This little experiment perfectly illustrates the benefits of being flexible versus the inflexible reality. Moreover, if you factor in that people tend to sit for many hours but refuse to stretch, you understand how your body starts accumulating disease that will become a full health risk at some point.
Is it good to be flexible?
Flexibility induces heat into your body, challenges your breathing, and therefore helps with the overall health of your body. Consequently, it is essential to be flexible to avoid injuries. However, flexibility is not about the contortion of your body. That’s one of the biggest traps into which people fall. Especially as they want to push themselves. If you must be out of practice for months or years, you are not practicing flexibility but something else.
Heat into your body
DO NOT start any stretches if you are cold. That’s tricky since one might ask, “well, how to heat up safely”. Fortunately, I have created a best practice example for you to adopt, which will work whether you do yoga, run, dance, or do any other sports. It’s a body isolation exercise that increases as the tempo of the music does. As for dancers, it’s great way to learn rhythm and get a very loose body. For other sports, it helps avoid all minor injuries that prevent people from doing what they like. Put another way: I have done this for more than 12 years almost every day. And my body has rewarded me by allowing me to do what I love daily. Unfortunately, I know of other professional dancers who don’t have such routines and are constantly in a specialist office—your choice.
Other benefits of being flexible: Challenge your breathing
When I studied yoga in India, I realized that you could almost correlate breathing patterns and level of flexibility. The ones with good flexibility were almost noiseless, while those with plenty of uneducated muscles had uneven and heavy breathing patterns. It is not just that your breathing ameliorates as your flexibility does; your attitude to challenges also changes completely. You feel less tired even if you practice a very demanding physical activity, as, in turn, you have learned how to calm down your breathing pattern. This leads to another benefit: your ability to handle matters and stressful situations better.
How do beginners get flexible?
To get flexibility when you are just starting, you need to consider your age, physical health, and the state of your conditioning. For example, you would be unable to work on your neck flexibility if you had severe neck injuries. So, once you consider where you are physically, you can move toward your first batch of flexibility exercises. As I pointed out previously, to enjoy the benefits of flexibility, you must approach the practice gradually in a step-by-step way.
Heat into your body
In my article on flexibility for beginners, I provide a proper way to approach the practice. You should first work on every little part of your body functionally. As time lapses, you increase the speed of your body movement. This is a secret I give to everyone but that most people want to put aside. And I just don’t know why that is. I know the benefits these simple exercises have had for my dance partner of many years in avoiding injuries and getting a proper and complete workout. So, don’t overlook these simple body isolation exercises. You will probably find them more challenging than what they look like. This step 1 by itself can be a practice beginners can do, as I work on the flexibility of the arms, shoulder blades, hamstrings, back, and hips along with the isolation of our body.
Increased flexibility exercises
If you felt step 1 was manageable, you can move to step 2. When you complete this stage, you are not a beginner anymore. In fact, you should find this part challenging. If, on the other hand, you find these stretches challenging, it’s completely normal. They take time and practice to master, but you can start by doing them slowly. The point is to gradually allow your body, through repetitive practice, to get you there. Along the way, you will realize that your breathing is put under a certain form of stress. You will feel like you want to breathe faster and more heavily as the discomfort seeks in. That’s completely normal, and you should try to relax your breathing.
A complete flexibility workout should be followed by breathing exercises if you want to enjoy the full benefits of being flexible. Breathing is like inducing flexibility into your flexibility routine. It allows you to recover (which is the most important if you want to practice regularly). Moreover, breathing helps you reset your mind in the right direction, especially if you have to undertake different tasks. For example, you can check the following video by Baba Ramdev. These breathing exercises kept diseases away from me.
Is being too flexible bad?
One of the main misconceptions about flexibility is that many people believe they should be able to twist their bodies in indescribable positions to enjoy the benefits of flexibility. That is entirely wrong. And this is because many people who advertise “How to achieve the split in 5-10 minutes” don’t tell you that they’ve been practicing for years, if not decades. Furthermore, they do not tell you about the injuries that await them at the corner. So it might be worthwhile for you to check out this video on the issue.
The old wooden stick vs the bamboo
An excellent way to describe the issue is to imagine the following: You take a hard stick and try to bend it all the way so both ends can touch each other. The likely result is that this piece of wood will break. If, on the other hand, you take a young bamboo branch, both ends will probably be able to meet. So which tree do you think the people who bend effortlessly are? And what tree represents you if you have not paid attention to flexibility in your life before?
It is, therefore, essential to approach flexibility and stretches the way you would approach a sharp knife. It can either cut things for you or cut you. So, be gradual, don’t force things out, and DO NOT TRY TO IMITATE OTHERS.
5 Benefits of being flexible
One of the key reasons we work on our flexibility is to help prevent injuries from strong physical efforts. It’s also a way to keep the elasticity of our body, so we have a full range of motion.
Eliminate dormant illnesses
One of the other benefits of being flexible is that through your body’s vitality, you can ensure certain illnesses do not get into your body. For example, you can develop back and spine issues from prolonged sitting. So if you are in an office, find a few minutes where you can do my complete flexibility workout. It will straighten your spine, won’t be too overwhelming, and do wonders for your body.
Allows progress in practices through regularity
One of the reasons I got fascinated with flexibility is that I wanted to be able to do what I love every day. I realized that it was not the intensity of the efforts that mattered but the repetition that would, in turn, sink into my brain and body. Besides, flexibility is even more important if your physical activities are intense and you want to do them daily. Therefore, flexibility is the TOOL, along with rest, that will allow you to practice regularly.
Boost immune system
Flexibility is not just the ability to touch the floor when you bend. It’s the alignment between your physical body and breathing. Once you start doing flexibility exercises, your body will naturally try to regulate your breathing. This, in turn, will push you to discover different breathing techniques, which will have the benefit of preventing some health diseases.
Regulate your breathing
I mentioned it above, but your breathing gets challenged when you do flexibility exercises. Your mind, in turn, gets challenged. And your breathing patterns become irregular, fast, and aggressive. However, once you start slowing down your breathing, you will realize that your flexibility exercises get easier. And the more you regulate your breathing, the more you gain flexibility.
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