Yoga with Melissa 350 Back to School Yoga: Yoga is Not Stretching, Yoga for Flexibility

by Melissa West on September 23, 2016

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Yoga for Flexibility

yoga-is-not-stretchingDr. Steve Gangemi who is on a mission to stop mindless stretching reminds us that “Yoga is not sanskrit for stretching” Yoga connects us with our physical body, but also our mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual bodies. I think I am preaching to the choir now when I say yoga is so much more than flexibility and yet, the number one reason people tell me they practice yoga is to stay flexible.

Flexibility for flexibility sake ends up with useless flexibility and will lead to injury. More flexibility is not necessarily better. We need to have adequate range of motion to be functional human beings, that is to be able to get out of bed in the morning, sit on the toilet, get up from the toilet, practice basic hygiene, get dressed and undressed, make our meals, get up and down from chairs, walk, go up and down stairs. But the truth of the matter is, being uber flexible, that is being able to touch our toes, or put our foot behind our heads does not mean we will be out of pain or be a better person.

So what does flexibility really mean?

Why is flexibility important to you?

What do you want to receive by being flexible?

When I ask people why they want to be flexible they answer with responses like:

Lucille said, “I think I need flexibility in order to not get stuck in old patterns of reacting to stuff of life going on around me. Flexibility of body, mind and spirit can work together to help me stay centered in my own life lessons”

Tina explains, “Functional flexibility and increased ROM helps me in my daily living and with my responsibilities as a caregiver. Flexibility also improves my stamina as my day which can be more physical out of necessity. I suffer from osteoarthritis and I need to do yoga every day but haven’t, I am feeling the negative result of not having taken the time needed for the past month and feel I can hardly stand upright. All of it carries over to my mental state and how I approach my day or even how I feel I can handle my day. For me, I do find that physical immobility is so closely linked with mental flow.”

Nikki says, “Flexibility in my body equals flexibility in my life. Recovering from chronic fatigue, chronic body pain, and chronic headaches, it’s necessary to find flexibility again. It eases my anxiety, and improves my mood as my body returns to a softer, more natural state. I love a strong body…mine is when I’m healthy…but balance between strength and flexibility helps the energy within me run smoothly, making everything better!

What I love about your responses is that finding movement and flexibility in your physical body translates to flexibility in your mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual bodies as well as your daily life. It is about more than touching your toes, it is about mental flexibility, it is about less pain, anxiety, stress and being in a state of flow.

There is a significant correlation between rigidity, constriction and stiffness in our physical bodies and the tension we experience mentally, emotionally, energetically, spiritually and in our day to day lived experience. Dr. Steve Gangemi explains, “If you are under significant physical, emotional or nutritional stress, then your nervous system will respond by tightening certain muscles, it is a protective mechanism.” Whatever the stress is, whether is be physical, mental, emotional, nutritional, environmental, your entire nervous system and muscles react to the problem by tightening and constricting.”

One of the major sites of constriction of our psoas muscle. This muscle contracts from hours and hours of sitting, but also from emotional contracting in response to stressful situations. Today we will spend our physical practice releasing our psoas to move our body out of its sympathetic fearful, fight or flight, trying to survive state, so that we can access our parasympathetic nervous system and find free and easy breathing with our diaphragm.

Props Needed: Round Bolster

Yoga Postures/Asanas: restorative pose to release psoas, reclined Side Bend or Supta Ardha Chandrasana, Bride Pose or Setu Bandhasana, Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana, Gate Pose or Parighasana, Dhyana Mudra, Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana, Backbending Pigeon or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, Reclined Twist or jathara parivartanasana, Savasana or Corpse Pose


Stop Mindless Stretching Liberated Body Podcast Brooke Thomas with Dr. Steve Gangemi

Stop Mindless Stretching by

Stretching for Flexibility, or Not

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

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What class would you like to see next week on Yoga with Melissa for the Back to School Yoga series? A class on Strength or a Class on Body Image? Write strength or body image and let me know why that class is important to you in the comments. I will make my decision based on the most comments and also best reasons why 🙂

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Today we focused on flexibility. The most leading edge way to focus on flexibility in your body is to connect with your fascia. In our membership classes, we have a number of classes and tools we use included the soft foam roller, slo mo ball and soft squash ball that do just that. I bring you the leading edge research and innovation in the fields of fascia, brain yoga and neuroplasticity to offer you easier and more significant gains in the flexibility, mobility, less pain and tension. Check out these classes in our membership community. (click here)

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Weekly Yoga with Melissa #350 Photos of Yoga Pose



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