In order to maintain a healthy physique, flexibility and mobility training is essential and will have a positive effect on your strength gains as it improves a joint's ability to move through a full range of motion. Flexibility and mobility training- more commonly known as stretching or yoga- is not about becoming a world-class gymnast. It's about balancing the muscle groups that most people tend to underuse or overuse during exercise and other activities and to correct bad posture.
This is one of the key components of a balanced fitness program. Flexibility and mobility training provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercise or activity. Combining flexibility and mobility training with functional training gives you a well-balanced body.
Each flexibility and mobility/yoga session consists of:
- Pre-meditation/breathing exercises: This clears the mind and prepares the body for exercise.
- Sunsalutation: Sunsalutations warms up the body, activates the energy systems, loosens up tight muscles and improves blood circulation to all the major muscle groups.
- Standing postures: These poses have elements that allow your body to be moved in different directions. You can bend forward, backwards, sideways and upside down. They require balance, stability, coordination, body awareness and steadiness. They utilize large muscle groups, warm the body at the start of your practice and develop stamina.
- Seated and floor postures: Since you are already seated, there is less focus on balance and more emphasis on holding the pose for longer to allow your body to relax and lengthen in these postures.
- Twists and abdominal toners: The main focus of these poses is to bring awareness to your core and gently massage your internal organs to deliver more oxygenated blood so they can function better. Twists also allow tension to be released around the spine.
- Arm balances (for intermediate and advanced practitioners): These poses improve shoulder stability and strength. They require a lot of upper-body strength and work the core as well.
- Back bends: These poses predominantly stretch the anterior side of the body. Starting from the shoulders, chest, abdomen, hips and thighs, these exercises promote better flexibility and breathing to the heart’s center.
- Inversions: Inverted postures improve lymph and venous circulation. They work the heart and boost the immune system. Increased blood flow supply to the endocrine glands at the throat is the reason why inversions are considered to be hormonal balances.
- Relaxation/meditation: This is one of the most important parts of yoga. Necessary for after stretching as well as to relax and calm the mind to provide more emotional stability and peace of mind. During the time of rest, the prana activated by posture can be used for healing and energizing the system.
Benefits of flexibility training / yoga
- Better posture.
- Better form when exercising from improved range of motion around your joints.
- Less tightness in muscles.
- Stronger muscles; there is a correlation between the flexibility of a muscle and how much power it can generate.
- Greater body awareness.
- Improved balance, coordination, control and form when exercising or playing sports.
- Strengthened connective tissue.
- Improved sports performance by decreasing the risk of injury.
- Reduced risk of pain experienced from tight muscles.
- Increased blood and nutrients to tissue.
- Calmness and better focus when under stress from our daily lives.