It is common knowledge that yoga brings strength and flexibility. The importance of strength that yoga brings is accepted as developing your muscles to take the weight off your bones so your joints stay healthy in the later stages of life, we develop our musculoskeletal structure so we are able to age well. However, there is a misconception that the modern man doesn’t need flexibility- that it is only for ballerinas and gymnasts! This article hopes to clear up that misconception once and for all.
With flexibility and proper body alignment, you will notice that most of your movements feel smoother and can be performed with ease, with minimal resistance. The yogic idea of movement encourages the body to move freely and increases your range of motion. By regularly practicing asanas you will begin to experience your spine and muscles become more supple thereby preventing joint stiffening and muscle shortening that often accompany injury, inactivity, and aging.
Maintaining a healthy and limber spine is of utmost importance as it has a direct effect on your health and vitality; the structure is the foundation of your body. The 33 vertebrae enclose the spinal cord which houses all the nerves that stem from the brain. Each vertebra has nerve openings that branch out to every part of the body. During a yoga class we often stretch our back in 6 directions: forward and backward, laterally on each side and twisting on each side. This creates a balance and symmetry in your spinal column, promoting the health of your entire spine, from the cervical vertebrae in your neck to the lowest lumbar vertebrae. Balanced spinal flexibility leads to the proper functioning of your vertebrae and nerves. When a vertebra is out of alignment its associated nerves, muscles and internal organs resultantly suffer as well, causing a lot of pinching back pain and a degeneration of health.
Flexibility can be improved more quickly and retained longer than any other aspect of physical fitness. As you hold each stretch you will gradually impart increasing flexibility to your muscles, joints, and spine- regardless of your age or current physical condition. Once achieved, you will find that you can retain this wonderfully flexible state for your entire lifetime.
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