Female holding a yoga pose

The Best Yoga For The Inflexible People Like You

1. Can you do yoga if you are inflexible?

That’s a legitimate question to ask, especially that 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 to fall into. We will address them in this post  

1.1. Why yoga for inflexible people?

Yoga pose for flexibility

Yoga allows you to set up your own pace and is most effective when it challenges different aspects of your wellbeing. For example, you might practice yoga for a while and see little improvements compared to someone who seems to execute everything with ease. Yet, the question is “are you not more commendable” for persevering and having faith into the practice?
The other point is that when you try to do flexibility exercises, you realise that your breathing is challenged immediately. If you are really inflexible and do some stretch drills your breathing will become heavy, inconsistent, almost “furious”. That’s one aspect where yoga is great because the emphasis is on the control of your breath during the movements. Once you get a grip onto 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, for some reasons my love for dance led me to understand that if I wanted to created more moves, I had to have a body that was responding accordingly. So, I started with some disorganised flexibility exercises that did not have a real aim, but only hope. Then, I wondered how some people were able to twist their body so easily while I had all the struggles in the world. That’s when I realised there was a system and technique behind getting flexible. Which led me to…India.

▪️ Magic started to happen

Yoga pose an inflexible person like me managed to do

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 travelled to Mumbai and learned in a yoga institute. At 40 years old I realised I really wasn’t flexible. Still, I persevered in my practiced and continued after my India trip. Certain exercises seemed out of reach to me that I did not even dream of executing them. I was happy with doing the best I could as long as I stuck to it every day. Then magic started to happen. My leg raised higher; I could hold postures for longer. Difficult poses started to “just happen” to me. That’s why, therefore, I know you can do it too. The key point is to avoid watching people who can do all kind 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 ming 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-up 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 decided 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 great role in the regularity of your practice.

The perfect cycle of yoga exercises for inflexible people

3. What is the best yoga exercises for inflexible people?

The following exercises will be start from simple to a little more advanced. The later, to give you a taste of what you can achieve if you keep working on your flexibility. Beforehand, please refer to this body isolation exercise I created. It stems from dance, but many people don’t know of these kinds of techniques. They are great, not only to warm-up your body on a general level, but also on a “portion” level. What I mean by that, is that I target specific area of your body to make sure 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 difficult. 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:

▪️ Basic

I will introduce you to some relatively simple figures. They are a great transition between the heat-up session and the yoga exercises. 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. You can move straight to the RECOVERY section. With these 2 sets you would have done great for your body’s flexibility. You might not believe it, but supreme athletes struggle with some of these 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. 

▪️ Elevated

We move now to a set that is little more challenging than the first one. We will exclusively work on your hamstrings, with three exercises. 
These exercises will prepare you for more difficult poses that you might want to learn in the future. But if you are strickly looking for yoga exercises for inflexible people, these should be enough for a little while. Then after, you can come back and check-out the more advanced stuffs 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 make sure your whole back stay 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 take from bhujangasana only that you also try and 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.

3.3. Recovery

The last part is also an important one in your flexibility journey. This is one of the steps people tend to neglect; and one of the reason why many get hurt 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.
 
To view the follow the full session together just click on the video below. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to let me know. 

▪️ Guidance

As you lie down on your back, spread your leg about 2 feet apart and also your arms. Then open-up the palms of your hands. If you can no open your palms, don’t worry. Keep them as open as you can (even if they are mostly closed). You will close your eyes and breath slowly from toes to head, travelling through every parts fo 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 seat with your back erected. We will add some breathing exercises and the session will be complete.

To watch the full session just click on the video below. 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. What to avoid?

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.

5.1. Stretching cold

If you want to practice for a long time and make yoga part of your flexibility routine, you will quickly realise that the most important activities in the session are not the yoga poses themselves but both the recovery and heat-up phases. The recovery allows you to come back over and over, while the heat-up phase clear your path from all the obstacles that await you. 

5.2. Do too much to fast

When people starts 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 exactly for that purpose? One of the key 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 big. It just means you are not completely ready yet. That’s alright. Remember time is your asset. 

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