Most people are not born super flexible. Most yoga practitioners, like myself, have put many years, long hours and patience into becoming more flexible. The more flexible you are, the stronger and more defined your muscles become.
I have taught yoga to pro athletes and olympians. I am always amazed how strong they are and more amazed how un-flexible they are. From practicing yoga for over 25 years, I have learned first hand the importance of flexibility. I am only strong, because of my flexibility; most yogis will tell you the same thing.
Sure, we can all build muscle and get stronger. But to to be full body strong, flexibility is a must! If you can’t stretch or reach that extra inch, no amount of strength will get you there; there is a physical blockage to your maximum potential. By breathing and lengthening your inner body, your outer body becomes stronger.
To be perfectly honest, it takes a lot of hard work and discipline to be strong and flexible. BUT, here are a few easy stretches to send you on your way:
After working out at the gym, ( stair master, elliptical, tread mill, cycling, etc.) ALWAYS, take a minimum of 15 minutes afterwards to do:
1. Low Lunges, both sides, (one knee on the ground) hold 10-15 seconds each side
2. High Lunges, both sides (knee off the ground) hold 10-15 seconds each side
*REPEAT* and hold each pose 30 seconds.
3. Seated Straddle- walk your hands in front of you, hold for 10-15 seconds for inner thigh stretch
4. In Seated Straddle, reach your left hand toward your left foot, reach your right hand to the sky- hold for 10-15 seconds, switch sides.
5. Lay on your back and hug your knees to your chest for 1 minute.
6. On your back, drop your knees to the left for a spinal twist- hold for 1 minute, switch sides.
7. On your back, hug one knee to your chest, outstretch the opposite leg to the floor-hold for 10-15 seconds, switch sides.
8. Roll to one side, to press up to seated, make your way to standing.
9. Stand with your feet parallel and hip width apart. Reach your arms up to the sky, take big inhales and long exhales for 30 seconds.
Release your arms. Do this one or two more times to get air and length to your inner body.
If this is too overwhelming for you, pick 2 or 3 of these stretches. Take your time with them, stay as long as you like. Be mindful that you are stretching, not pushing. Congratulations!! You are becoming stronger and more flexible- Together!