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Old 08-12-2008, 06:15 PM   #13
cguzik
Location: Tulsa, OK
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 166
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Re: Anyone have a good way to become more flexible?

The advice to find a good yoga studio is good advice. Iyengar yoga will focus a lot on proper alignment, which is good for a beginner from a safety perspective. It is much better to start in classes with a qualified instructor rather than trying to learn from a book or video. This is partially because they will be able to see things that you won't yet have the awareness to feel on your own (so they can help adjust you in ways that increase the benefits while still being safe), and also partially because they will push you in ways that you would probably not be inclined to on your own.

A couple of suggestions -

Don't stretch cold. Warm up first. Most yoga classes will start with activities to build heat in the body, and some heat the room to help with this.

Do not get in a hurry. It will likely take longer than a month. Work with your body and accept it as it is. You will get safer, better results if you don't push yourself too hard.

Do not tense the muscle that you are stretching. (This is not what isometrics are for). Instead, activate the opposing muscles to protect yourself from overstretching. For example, if you are stretching your hamstrings, tense your quadriceps and the muscles along the tops of your shins. In a forward fold that stretches the back side of the body, engage the front of your body from the legs all the way up through your abdominals and chest. Release and relax the muscles being stretched. This is actually safer and protects the muscles being stretched from overstretching.

Learn to use your breath to deepen the stretch. Breath into the areas being stretched on the inhale and release further on the exhale.

All of the above will be taught in more detail in the yoga classes.

Best,

Chris
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