Is Yoga for inflexible people

Does yoga improve flexibility

Are you one of those stiff body people who worry 'Is yoga for inflexible people?' Can inflexible people do yogasanas?

It is true that while doing yoga, you may be bending, turning, stretching and twisting your body in many ways. Are you worried that you may not be able to do that?

If the above is true about you, you do not need to worry. If your body is flexible, you can do the advanced yoga positions well but even when your body is not flexible, you can do the basic yoga poses. Your body will become more and more flexible as you continue doing yoga.

Even though your body is inflexible, you can still experience the physical and mental benefits of yoga. You can become aware of your body and mind with yoga.

Of course, this improvement in your body flexibility will depend on how inflexible you were before beginning your yoga practice and how long you practice. Be assured, you will improve with practice and patience. And then you will assure other inflexible people that they can do yoga too. I say this from experience.

With age as well as sedentary lifestyle and inactivity, our bodies become inflexible. Even if you are doing some form of physical activity regularly, your body may not be flexible though you may be healthy and fit.

You can start doing yoga at any age. Do the yoga poses that are possible according to what your body allows. You do not need to retain or even reach the final positions shown in the yoga book or yoga dvd or the yoga website in your first few sessions or even for a few months.

Your progress may be slow compared to others who may be younger or more flexible than you but while doing yoga, you should not be competing with anybody else.

Keep the following points in mind when you start your yoga practice and experience the health and physical and mental benefits of yoga.

How to Use yoga for flexibility

  • Be patient when you start practicing your yoga poses.
  • Do some warming up - stretching exercises before starting yoga practice.
  • Pay attention to your breathing and follow the instructions about when you are supposed to breathe in and out.
  • Do the bending, stretching and twisting in any asana (pose) as long as it is painless. If you feel discomfort or pain, stop. Everyday you can progress and your body will get used to the stretch. The pain will go away.
  • Practicing yogasana frequently helps in making body flexible. Practice in the mornings as well as evenings for 15 minutes each time.
  • Practice more number of times every week. If you can do it all the seven days a week, the benefits will be visible faster. But then do it at a pace that you feel comfortable and enjoy it. You should enjoy when you are doing yoga and the feeling afterwards. Yoga should not be a punishment for your body.
  • Practicing regularly will make your body more and more flexible everyday and that flexibility will definitely encourage you to practice more.

There is also chair yoga which is done while being seated in a chair. You can do that if you are chair bound.

You will also learn to listen to your body and learn to accept your current limitations while trying to improve on them. Some yogasanas may have some variations or alternatives which you may be able to try with your limitations and your yoga teacher may be able to guide you with them.

Avoiding some foods as well as consuming some other foods may also help you in improving your flexibility. But more on that later.

Hope this answered your 'Is yoga for inflexible people?' question. Rest assured that yoga and flexibility can go together.

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Yoga guru BKS Iyengar passes away in Pune, India. He was 96 years old.

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