There is no such thing as being too stiff to practise yoga.
Anyone can practise yoga. So long as you listen to your body and be kind to yourself. Do not force your body into positions or postures. Be patient and allow your practice to evolve naturally. There is no rush to perform postures that look impressive.
If flexibility is an issue for you it is important to understand that the only way to improve flexibility safely is by learning to relax. Tight muscles are often caused by stress or tension, by forcing the body into different postures the body is then subjected to further stress. The only way to really increase flexibility safely and maintain it long term is by relaxing the tighter areas of the body.
Posture is also a massive factor when it comes to flexibility. Incorrect posture and spending hours slumped in a chair will restrict movement and bring tension to the body, yoga helps correct imbalances in the body and encourages good alignment as posture improves then so too will flexibility.
Yoga provides the time and space to discover where tension is stored in the body. Through a regular yoga practice different techniques are learnt to help release muscular tension making it easier to relax the tighter areas of the body. Yoga produces strength, agility and flexibility helping the body move freely whilst maintaining strong agile joints.
Yoga is for everyone there are no requirements. Yoga practices include sitting or lying breathing slowly and then progress through a series of gentle postures that slowly build a foundation in the practice. Some postures appear to require extreme levels of flexibility, this may be daunting for anyone starting out, but these postures are more advanced and should be practiced by experienced practitioners. There are hundreds of postures suitable for the absolute beginner.
When practicing yoga if you feel that your body is resisting. Stay in the posture and relax away from the point of resistance. Take a moment to scan through your body to discover what area of your body is preventing you from releasing. Try to relax the resisting area. You can do this by breathing slowly in and out through your nose and working to soften and surrender as you exhale. I find it useful to picture my out breath going to the restricted area and removing tension as the breath leaves my body.
A little bit of science behind stretching……. the nervous system controls everything. Muscles contract and become tight because the nervous system has told them to. Tightness in a muscle has usually developed for a reason maybe to prevent an injury from occurring or to protect a joint. Always work to relax and release. Pain is always a warning sign if experienced relax the posture immediately.
Viparita Karani (legs up the wall)
This posture has both a soothing and energizing effect. It provides a time and space for the body and mind to rest. During resting postures the mind becomes stiller and free from clutter. This posture is also referred to as the fountain of youth pose and will increase the flow of nutrient rich blood to the brain helping to refresh the mind.
Lie flat on your back with your legs extended up a wall and the arms alongside your body with the palms facing up. Take your time to breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Focus on lengthening your exhalation and releasing tension.
If you experience pulling or tightening in the backs of your legs allow your knees to soften and place the soles of your feet against the wall, you can also bend your knees and rest your feet on a chair. Remain here for five to ten minutes breathing slowly. Enjoy.“The success of yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.” T.K.V. Desikachar the son of the great yoga master Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya