Flexibility isn’t a natural ability for most people. Incorporating fundamental movements and exercises into your lifestyle, though, can help you increase your flexibility. But it’s easy to get frustrated if you don’t see immediate results.
Here are 5 common reasons why you’re not getting more flexible from yoga:
- You’re not practicing yoga consistently.
- You lack stretching.
- You have improper pose alignment.
- You’re not doing the right yoga poses for your goals.
- Your age and lifestyle heavily influence your progress.
Let’s take a deeper look at these reasons why your flexibility isn’t top-notch to help you discover ways to improve it and get the most flexibility out of your yoga exercises.
You’re Not Practicing Yoga Consistently
Yoga is an ancient form of movement that has been known to improve lives and overall health and wellness. Yoga, originating over 5,000 years ago, is still a practice many enjoy and use to improve their lifestyles. Today, you can see people of all ages practicing yoga.
More so than other activities and sports, yoga is a practice that stretches not only your muscles but also your mind. It’s a complete mind-body experience that combines strength and conditioning activities with meditation and relaxation techniques.
With over 100 different types of yoga forms, there’s undoubtedly one that you can find to suit your needs, whether you wish to become more active or increase your range of movement.
Yoga, like any exercise or sport, requires practice. With a wide array of health benefits, yoga is an activity that has taken the world by storm, but it’s not as easy as some may think.
A top reason that many choose to start practicing yoga is because of the added flexibility it can produce. According to this article from WebMD, yoga poses actively stretch your muscles and have the potential to double your range of motion. Yet, one yoga session isn’t enough for you to see results. You have to practice to see gains in your flexibility consistently.
Think about it this way, if you wanted to learn how to play the piano, would you see more improvements if you practiced once a month or every day? The more you practice the piano, the more flexible your fingers become. Eventually, you’ll be able to press multiple keys at the same time without difficulty. Also, you’ll be able to read the notes quickly and even memorize an entire music piece! That’s right; regular daily practice will increase your skillset.
The same is true for yoga. With consistent practice, your body will develop a higher range of motion than when you first started. Lapses in practice, you may see regression in your progress.
Similarly, suppose you’ve ever become an athlete or participated in any sport. In that case, you know that if you stop or take a break, even just for several consecutive days, you’ll notice that you’re not at your peak performance when you return to the activity.
If you’re not sure how often you should practice yoga, check out our other article about ‘How often should you practice yoga to become flexible.’
Generally speaking, yoga is similar to other sports or activities in that the more often you do it, the more achievements you’ll make!
You Lack Stretching
Yoga is often used as a toning workout and a deep-breathing stress-reducing activity. The stretches involved with each pose will strengthen your muscles, improve your ability to move, and increase flexibility.
However, if you aren’t practicing consistently, you could easily become frustrated by the lack of visible results, especially if your goal is to become more flexible.
Inadequate flexibility can negatively impact your body in several significant ways. First, our joints need to have a full range of motion to remain in top health.
Joints and cartilage can suffer if you’re inflexible. UC Davis Health says that when joint structures in our body are not stretched properly, it can negatively impact the blood supply and nutrients getting to the joints, especially if they’re weight-bearing joints like our hips and knees.
The previously mentioned article suggests that we have a regular stretching routine to:
- Increase our muscular coordination
- Return the muscles to their natural states
- Increase proper blood circulation
Yoga is a great way to stretch your muscles if you’re doing it consistently and correctly. When you’re completing yoga poses, make sure that you cover all the major muscle groups of your body. In addition, it’s vital to hold the pose for a full 1–2 minutes to stretch the muscles completely and thoroughly.
If you’re a yoga novice, holding a pose for 2 minutes may be difficult or even painful, depending on the pose. If this is true for you, start at a 30-second hold and then repeat twice more to get the entire stretch in. Over time, if you consistently practice, you’ll be more capable of holding a stretch for the whole 2 minutes.
Also, don’t overstretch your muscles. Sometimes people complain of a lack of flexibility, but it’s because they’re straining their muscles. When you hold a yoga stretch, you should feel tightness in the target muscle group. If you begin to feel pain, ease back, control your breathing, and gently release.
Stretching increases mobility effectively, thus why yoga is a preferred stretching mechanism. It’s crucial to stretch often and regularly and hold the stretch for a full 2 minutes to increase blood circulation, reduce muscle tightness and improve joint movement.
You Have Improper Pose Alignment
Sometimes you may not see improvements in flexibility if you’re not properly aligned during your yoga poses.
Each yoga pose has specific movement and stretching requirements to get the full effect of the activity. If you don’t properly align your body for each pose, you could risk injury, but you’re also not gaining any increase in mobility or flexibility.
There are so many different types of yoga at varying degrees of difficulty available that sometimes it’s difficult to know precisely how to do a movement.
If you’re new to yoga, I’d suggest joining a class with a certified yoga instructor. Having a teacher available to guide you will make you more comfortable and confident and ensure that you do each pose properly. Your teacher will be there to correct and guide you.
Having a class to go to also gives you accountability. If you’re serious about improving your mobility and flexibility, consistency is the most crucial aspect of success. You can hold yourself accountable and regularly practice when you have to be at and participate in a class.
Invite a friend to join you at a yoga class, and you’ll have even more accountability to ensure that you attend regularly. Doing this may also be a fun way to socialize and connect while building up your flexibility.
I know what you’re thinking; yoga classes cost money, and maybe you didn’t put a budget on your goal of gaining flexibility. If this is the case for you, don’t worry, there are other means of ensuring that you are correctly aligned during each pose.
One way is to practice in front of a mirror. Make sure that you use a broad, full-length mirror to see your entire body during each pose.
Watch yourself in the mirror to ensure that your body is adequately aligned. Remember, correct poses not only prevent serious injuries but they also help you gain flexibility.
Proper alignment during yoga can also ensure that you use what Yoga Fit Worldwide describes as the Seven Principles of Alignment. These seven core elements increase your safety and improve your body’s overall functionality.
Some of the principles they describe include core stability, establishing a solid base, and softening and aligning your knees.
You’re Not Doing the Right Yoga Poses for Your Goals
As the preferred exercise for improving flexibility and overall health, yoga is popular worldwide. As the activity grows in popularity, there has continued to be an increase in varying styles and types, and each one can offer unique benefits.
If your primary goal with yoga is to increase flexibility, almost any form, if done consistently and correctly, will help you gain mobility and range of motion. However, some forms of yoga are specifically geared towards increasing flexibility that may be helpful to you on your journey.
Hatha yoga is one form in particular that has been shown to increase flexibility more than other types of yoga. It’s great for beginners and is exemplary at increasing flexibility.
Hatha is the primary yoga form for most western practices; it sets the basic poses and techniques for other yoga forms and is relatively simple to learn. It’s typically more slow-paced than other forms, making it easy to follow along with, and the poses are simple.
Most of the poses are held for only 30 seconds, meaning it’s ideal for those struggling with flexibility and new to the activity.
If you’re looking for something a little more fast-paced, you can try Vinyasa yoga. This form is quicker than Hatha, but it focuses on a broad range of movement. Vinyasa yoga is also commonly referred to as “power yoga,” which WebMD says is the most athletic form of yoga because it helps build upper body strength and increases mobility and balance.
Another great form of yoga for increasing flexibility is hot yoga, which has continued to rise since its original pop in practice in the ’90s.
If you’re looking for a yoga class, chances are you’ll be able to easily find a hot yoga one since these studio types are popping up all over the place, especially in urban areas.
The idea behind hot yoga is to match the climate of India so that participants sweat more and thus loosen their muscles more than in other forms. The heat increases flexibility because the hotter you get, your muscles become looser.
If you’re looking for a yoga form with deeper stretches and longer holds (back to the whole, more prolonged, and more intentional stretching thing), then you may want to consider trying Yin Yoga. Yin is dramatically slower-paced than hot yoga because the focus is on holding poses for an extended time, thus increasing your overall range of motion.
Your Age and Lifestyle Heavily Influence Your Progress
Overall, strength and fitness have a lot of variables to consider. As we age, our bodies steadily decrease in flexibility and overall mobility. In addition, stiffness in our joints is a recurring present with each birthday, and the elasticity in our muscles and tendons isn’t guaranteed.
One way to combat the steady decrease in mobility and overall health through the natural aging process is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise.
If you’re in your 20s or 30s and just starting yoga to improve your flexibility, you’re more likely to see results faster than if you are starting in your 40s and 50s. Every person’s body is unique, though, so just because one person loses their flexibility and range of motion in their 50s does not necessarily mean that you will.
If you’re frustrated that you’re not seeing the increase in flexibility that you hoped for when you started your yoga journey, consider your age and lifestyle. Are you older than 45? Do you practice regular movements throughout the day (i.e., walking, standing, stretching)? And do you have a balanced diet and drink lots of water?
Suppose you’re older and haven’t practiced an active and balanced lifestyle for most of your life. In that case, it could take longer and more consistent practice before yoga begins to impact your flexibility.
Another possible consideration is your diet. For muscles to loosen and bend, they need lots of water to stay nimble and loose. More than that, you need to think of the food you put in your body as fuel for movement.
If you’re packing your plate with lots of red meats and food heavy in saturated fats and sugars, your muscles are not going to move as well as they would if you fueled them with leafy greens and protein-packed nutrients.
If you have practiced yoga for some time already and noticed that your flexibility is not increasing, re-evaluate your commitment and consistency. Check if the style of yoga you do is helping you to achieve your goals, think about the alignment in asana, and if needed, visit a few yoga classes where the teacher can help you with some fundamentals in yoga poses.