The two sides of flexibility

When people think of yoga they often think of some flexible, lean creature doing all sorts of contortionist things with their bodies. Yes we do become more flexible when we do yoga. But should you really always strive to be more flexible? Can you actually be too flexible? 

If you are a regular Yogini you have experienced the benefits of yoga first hand and your flexibility has without a doubt improved. When you first started out you could maybe not even touch your toes and a few weeks later.... hello toes!! 


This is really motivating at first and you get a sense of achievement but what happens next? 

Let's look at it this way. We want to feel good in our bodies right? That should always be the first priority. If it makes you feel good to be more flexible then that's great! Go off and work on getting that foot behind the head!

I just have two things to add to this... 

A: You might realise that you are actually not any happier once you get that foot behind the head

B: Think about if you body SHOULD be able to do this or not...

Increasing flexibility has usually first of all something to do with releasing and lengthening muscle tissue in the body. Releasing tension is great. But what happens when you come to the point that the muscles are already nice and long? There is no tension left so what are you working on?

You will come to a point where you start working on the joints in fact. Moving joint in general is good because it keeps them young and healthy. Locking and pushing into joints is generally not a good idea...

Some people will never be more flexible than they already are. Let's take the example of doing splits. The bones in your body are shaped a certain way and it really depends on how the thigh bones fit into the hip sockets. Some people - even if they have the longest hamstrings and psoas muscles - might not ever be able to do the full splits (myself included).  

And guess what happens if you do it anyway? Your body will start to complain (you might want to read this post about How to avoid yoga injuries)!

When I started to work on my flexibility more than my strength I noticed that I was increasingly getting more pain around my SI joint (the joint at the back of the pelvis) spreading out into the lower back and the legs. What had happened was that increasing my flexibility led to the loss of stability. 

I'm not saying that this will be happen to you. I just want you to think about the two sides of flexibility. Is it beneficial for your body? How will you feel when you are more flexible? Are you also working on strength at the same time?

It's good to be flexible. But we also need stability. Without stability and strength, flexibility can be counter-productive. 

As usual it's all about balance.   


Hi, I’m Christine, a mum of two and I love everything to do with yoga! My blog is about how to bring yoga into our busy family lives and how to stay fit, healthy and sane. I also teach group and private yoga classes for adults and families in New Malden and Kingston.

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