Will your flexibility increase with yoga? Yes! That is if you consistently show up and keep doing it. Going to a yoga class once in a blue moon or popping in a yoga DVD while sitting on the couch snacking is probably not going to do much to make you more limber and supple.
You can find dozens if not hundreds of references from books to articles on how yoga can make you more flexible when done properly and consistently. However an inquiring mind wanted to know first hand if yoga really does make you-me more flexible.
The Unofficial Flexibility and Yoga Study
As an experiment some time back, I set to find out what “results” one could see in 30 days of yoga, yes, yoga each and every day of the 30 days. No other forms of exercise or sports were done during this time – just yoga. I also started out cold – so to speak. I had taken a little time off my typical practice before this “study”. The yoga consisted of variety of styles from hot yoga to Ashtanga. Some classes were harder, some easier. Each yoga practice was done in a studio in a group setting.
Here are the key findings:
1. 30 days of yoga made me more flexible all across the body: back, legs, shoulders and mind!
2. The progress wasn’t a steady little more each day – some days my body was fighting it (or maybe it was me!) and I felt stiffer than ever, and it took long time to warm up the muscles (maybe it’s age – naaah…)
3. I found my body to be the stiffest in the morning practices, whereas afternoons and evenings my body seemed to start out already warmed up. There were also mornings when I woke up and felt very stiff, like I hadn’t been stretching for weeks.
4. Hot yoga classes seemed to loosen the body up quicker and often resulted in better flexibility throughout the class.
5. Hamstrings were the toughest region to loosen up and keep loose – must be due to too much time in front of the computer!
Granted the “study” was very subjective in nature, but as objectively as I can summarize the results,
YES YOGA DOES IMPROVE FLEXIBILITY!
Yoga was the clear winner on increasing flexibility, more than any other stretching or flexibility training I have ever done. Besides, the flexibility is really the bonus, the icing on the cake, as a part of the amazing overall sense of well being of mind and body that comes with a yoga practice.
Listen to your body. Don’t overdo it. About 20 days in my elbows were hurting. I backed down from poses and practice that included locusts and other strenuous use of elbows.
Is it necessary to work at your flexibility every single day? Probably not. Is once a week enough? Doubtful. Do what feels right for you. Listen do your body and your mind.
There are plenty of other benefits that come from a yoga practice, not just increased flexibility. Your strength improves, balance and stamina – just to name a few.
Do Share – has yoga improved your flexibility, whether it is the more supple body or mind?
P.S. Results may vary…
Disclaimer: Before embarking on any exercise regimen or yoga practice, check with your doctor.