A healthy range of movement in all of the joints of the body is key to ageing well. We know that keeping the body flexible will:
Prevent injuries during both sport and daily activities.
Decrease pressure on joints and therefore the wearing of them.
Decrease the aches and pains associated with restriction and tension in the body.
Decrease the occurrence of things like tension headaches.
Help make the most basic tasks like putting shoes on and lifting children easier.
The one thing I hear again and again when I tell people I am a yoga teacher is…”Oh I can’t do yoga, my flexibility is terrible!” WARNING!…. RANT COMING. That is like me saying no matter how good the music is I can’t dance, or I can’t cook well so I won’t eat. Sounds silly right? It’s not that you can’t, it’s that you think you need to be good at it in order to even try.
There is a reason why it is called a yoga PRACTISE; it’s not a yoga performance people. I am so passionate about this and when I see a student in my class who has limited mobility and flexibility, I want more than anything for them to experience the benefits of a regular yoga practise.
Okay, rant over.
So here are 5 simple ways you can increase your mobility in your day-to-day life.
Sit on the floor.
Okay, I usually get a lot of crazy pants looks when I say this to my students but sitting on the floor cross legged or kneeling just like you did when you were a kid will help to increase the mobility of the joints in the lower half of your body. We spend a huge amount of time in chairs, in cars, on couches, and very little time actually using the full range of movement in the hips and lower back. Try squatting and sitting close to or on the floor while you’re watching T.V. or answering emails at home, or while your surfing FB.
Set an alarm.
If you’re an office worker and spend large amounts of time at a desk you should set an alarm on your computer or phone to go off every hour or two. When it rings take 60 seconds to do a simple stretch like a twist while sitting in your chair, or a neck stretch, or a stretch for your wrists. Every time your alarm goes off you should target a different body part. Frequency is key with increasing mobility. Ideally you would also take the opportunity to take a super quick walk away from your desk.
Spice it up.
The biggest issue most of us have is spending way too much time in any one position, whether that be standing or sitting. Try and alternate between the two as often as you can and whenever you can, throw in a squat or sitting low or sitting on the floor on a cushion. Spicing it up and alternating every couple of hours is most helpful. I often tell the mums who come into the studio to try and sit on the floor for playtime with their kids and squat down to talk to them. It all helps.
Allocate a stretch to the non-negotiables.
Getting students to comply and stick to doing an entire stretching sequence at home is a challenge. If you really struggle with discipline to fit it in, I often say….you have to brush your teeth and go to the toilet right? So every time you do, attach a stretch to that non-negotiable. For example, use your free arm to do a stretch for your shoulder, or while you’re standing at the sink do a calf stretch, or on your way to the bathroom stop and do a stretch against the wall. Chances are if you have to get changed and get your yoga mat out and do it yourself, it will last a few days before it gets too hard to find the time. If your walking or running it should be part of the routine to get down before and after to stretch.
Do some yoga!
You saw this one coming right? Find yourself a solid yoga teacher who understands the body and will make the class enjoyable for you. Don’t give up at the first class and teacher you find! There are so many different styles and ways of teaching and sometimes you need to sort through a few before you find one that speaks your language. Then attend at least two classes a week – maybe three, because one class is better than none but if your starting out it just won’t cut it. When you’re in class pay attention to the little stretches that you can do at your desk while you’re waiting for your pasta to cook and then do them often. If you’re really stuck and need help, schedule a one-to-one session so that you can have targeted stretches allocated specifically for your body! It is my favourite way to teach as the results are often better.
See you on the mat soon Kxx