Discover in this simple training yoga for the inflexible. I made it for those with zero flexibility who want to feel loose in their body. Unlike what you might think, your ability to get flexible has not entirely gone away. Follow these simple, educated yoga steps, and you will start getting results in a few weeks.
1. Can you do yoga if you are inflexible?
That’s a legitimate question, especially since yoga has been associated with indescribable contortions. The reality is that yoga is the perfect system for inflexible people to progress steadily; because it associates an understanding of breathing patterns, emotional control, and physical actions. However, you must handle this tool carefully. Indeed, there are traps you should avoid falling into. We will address them in this post
1.1. Why yoga for inflexible people?
Yoga allows you to set your own pace and is most effective when it challenges different aspects of your well-being. For example, you might practice yoga for a while and see little improvement compared to someone who seems to execute everything quickly. Yet, the question is, “are you not more commendable” for persevering and having faith in the practice?
The other point is that when you try to do flexibility exercises, you realize that your breathing is challenged immediately. If you are inflexible and do some stretch drills, your breathing will become heavy, inconsistent, and almost “furious”. That’s one aspect where yoga is excellent because the emphasis is on controlling your breath during the movements. Once you get a grip on your breathing, you understand that; without forcing, gravity will do its work naturally.
1.2. Why should you believe me?
I have not always been focused on flexibility in my life. My focus has always been on dancing. But, my love for dance led me to understand that if I wanted to create more moves, I had to have a body responding accordingly. So, I started with disorganized flexibility exercises with no real aim but only hope. But then, I wondered how some people could twist their bodies so quickly while I had all the struggles in the world. That’s when I realized there was a system and technique behind getting flexible. Which led me to…India.
▪️ Magic started to happen
I decided I had to go to the mecca of yoga and learn the art of yoga if I wanted to be more flexible. So, in 2017 I traveled to Mumbai and understood at a yoga institute. At 40 years old, I realized I wasn’t flexible. Still, I persevered in my practice and continued after my India trip. Specific exercises seemed out of reach, and I did not even dream of executing them. I was happy doing my best as long as I stuck to it every day. Then the magic started to happen. My leg raised higher; I could hold postures for longer. Challenging poses began to “just happen” to me. That’s why, therefore, I know you can do it too. The critical point is to avoid watching people who can do all kinds of difficult twists (there is a dark side to this) and focus on yourself.
2. How to approach a yoga session for inflexible people?
Before we go into the session, I created a chart you should keep in mind whenever you engage in any physical activities. This will help you avoid injuries and, therefore, positively affect the regularity of your practices. The first step is to heat your body as functionally as possible (i.e., with some moves you will use in the yoga session). Once your body is “ready”, the next step is to get into the yoga session (which will be divided in 3 sessions, allowing you to find the perfect limit for you). Finally, we will do a recovery session to help recenter your whole body. This part plays a significant role in the regularity of your practice.
3. What is the best yoga exercises for inflexible people?
The following exercises will start from simple to a little more advanced. The latter gives you a taste of what you can achieve if you keep working on your flexibility. Beforehand, please refer to this body isolation workout I created. It stems from dance, but many people don’t know these techniques. They are great, not only for warming up your body on a general level but also on a “portion” level. I mean that I target a specific area of your body to ensure everything is loose and ready for the session. At the end of the video, there are already a few yoga poses, but you can skip that if you feel they are too complicated. The video ends with a small dance part that you can ignore.
3.1. Heat-up session
3.2. Yoga exercises
We will split this session is 3 parts:
I will introduce you to some relatively simple figures. They are a great transition between the heat-up session and the yoga exercises. Next, we will also focus on our breathing and posture. That way, your mind will get ready for the following sets.
From there, we go to a bit more challenging postures. If you feel that the heat-up phase and basic yoga are challenging enough for you, that’s ok. Then, you can move straight to the RECOVERY section. You would have done great with these two sets for your body’s flexibility. You might not believe it, but supreme athletes struggle with some postures. So, congratulate yourself if you made it that far. Just keep practicing every day, and in no time, you will be moving to the next set.
We move now to a slightly more challenging set than the first one. We will exclusively work on your hamstrings with three exercises.
These exercises will prepare you for more complex poses you might want to learn. But if you are strictly looking for yoga exercises for inflexible people, these should be enough for a little while. Then you can come back and check out the more advanced stuff I propose.
▪️ Back maintenance
The last set deals with your spine and its health. We will start with a simple yoga pose called bhujangasana (cobra pose). It’s a pretty good exercise to reset your spine and ensure your whole back stays healthy. It’s relatively simple, and you can do it at your own pace. Resting on the palm of your hand, you lift your chest and head up from the ground while breathing. Then you drop back down while exhaling. The second pose will be Dhanurasana which takes from bhujangasana, only that you also try to catch your feet. The last one might be a little challenging, so if you think it will be too hard, just skip it. We are just going to drop our shoulders back from a kneeling position.
The last part is also an important one in your flexibility journey. This is one of the steps people tend to neglect, and that can lead to injuries in the long term. After any sessions (yoga, sports, etc.), you should have a cooling down period where the rhythm of your breathing is aligned with the stillness of your body. We will do that session for a few minutes.
As you lie down on your back, spread your leg about 2 feet apart, and your arms. Then open up the palms of your hands. If you cannot open your palms, don’t worry. Keep them as open as possible (even if they are mostly closed). Next, you will close your eyes and breath slowly from toe to head, traveling through every part of your body, with an extra focus on where you might feel pain. Imagine with all your exhalation that you throw away this pain from your body. After a few minutes (where you might fall asleep, and that’s ok), roll to the right side of your body. With the left palm, push yourself away from the floor and sit with your back erect. We will add some breathing exercises, and the session will be complete.
Just click on the video below to view the full session together. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
4. When can I see results?
That’s one question that might come to your mind. The ideal answer should be “it does not matter”, since you are likely to carry this journey for the long run. But to make a short, to the point answer, you should see results within a month if you practice at least 3 times a week. What I suggest is to fill my following assessment checklist in order to make sure you are on track. We will do a T0 vs T30 where you will write on a notepad how you did for each of the specific exercises listed below.
|6 KEY POINTERS OF IMPROVED FLEXIBILITY||T0 Beginning||T30 After one Month|
|✔︎ Breathing |
Try to stretch on the hardest pose and observe your breathing. Don’t try to control it (actually you probably will not be able to), just let it happen. Then record how your breathing is: is it heavy, jerky? Do you breathe with your mouth?
|✔︎ Hand behind back |
Record how close your hands are to each other’s when you do the “hand behind back exercise”. Then check your progress at T30. Are you able to touch them?
|✔︎ Cross leg |
Do the same type of recording as previously. This will be a real test of your progress since this exercise is design to help with the flexibility of the hips.
|✔︎ Downward dog |
Are you able to stay longer in that position after 2, 3 weeks compared to when you started?
|✔︎ Dhanurasana |
Can you raise from the floor while holding your legs?
|✔︎ Your palms during recovery|
One key indicators of your progress during recovery is how open can you get the palms of your hands. When you lie on your back there are specific reasons why your palms will tend to stay close. Hopefully with a set routine and the recovery exercises at the end, you will be able to relax more.
5. Yoga for the inflexible – What to avoid?
There are a few pitfalls to avoid, otherwise you will end-up injured.
5.1. Stretching cold
Suppose you want to practice for a long time and make yoga part of your flexibility routine. In that case, you will quickly realize that the most critical activities in the session are not the yoga poses themselves but the recovery and heat-up phases. The recovery allows you to return repeatedly while the heat-up stage clears your path from all the obstacles that await you. Therefore take these phases seriously.
5.2. Do too much to fast
When people start something new, they tend to let themselves be carried away by excitement. While enthusiasm is desired, you should proceed with care for your body. After all, aren’t you here precisely for that purpose? One of the critical ambushes people fall into is when they try to do too much too fast. If you think one of the exercises I propose is a bit complicated, do not carry on. Approach it slowly, test it, then taste it. You have time on your side; use it.
5.3. Carry on despite pain
If at any point you feel some sharp little pain stop immediately. If you go ahead, the pain will become significant. It just means you are not completely ready yet. That’s alright. Remember, time is your asset.
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