Not enough flexibility for Yoga

thank you but the only reason the improvement was so dramatic is because the starting point was so, so bad . . .


This is a thing? :sob: :sob: :sob:


Some of the poses looked positively frightening when I first encountered them. However, many of them I now look forward to, like Pigeon Pose. If you build into them then your body adapts and is ready for them, even if your body isn’t proportioned or a flexible as Abi’s. I just can’t touch my toes without bending my knees. But I can still get the benefits by getting as close as my body lets me without pushing it or forcing myself.

And even tho my week-to-week progression isn’t noticeable, my overall change and comfort is. I never wanted to do the Yoga, before. But now it’s almost a guilty pleasure I try to do almost and will make time for at least 10-15 minutes every day.


Hello Holger. I joined SUF 17 months ago. But I’ve been cycling and doing yoga for 10+ years.

I have a distinct memory, as far back as kindergarten, of not being able to sit comfortably on the floor. Even when I first started practicing, sucasana made my legs fall asleep. The hips carry stress as much as our neck and shoulders do.

I agree with Abi in the points she makes about breath and frequency of practice. I want to elaborate on the ways that worked for me. I encourage you to foster a community practice, when it’s safe to do so. A good instructor will teach you how to breathe and guide your breath. Also, spending an hour working your muscles in a heated room will help you work on your flexibility. Until then, really take advantage of when your muscles are the most full of blood and work on flexibility post-workout.

Regarding feeling like a turtle in seated forehead to knee pose: pretty much all of the traditional hatha poses are hilarious. Have you seen sasangasana (rabbit pose)? I think yogis all must be able to laugh at themselves! I think I was doing the original 26 Hatha poses 2-3 times a week for about a six months before I stopped feeling uncomfortable and I don’t think it was for another five years until I started feeling like I could really explore the postures and have fun in class. This was in studio, at 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition to following Abi’s advice, there are some specific areas of focus I’d hone in on. My first thought is that your shoulders, neck and chest are probably as tight as your hips and working to improve flexibility on the whole is the way to go. While you sit on your cushion in sucasana, work on archer arms. Stretch your wrists, shoulders and chest while you sit. If you haven’t already tried it, the original 26 postures in the Hatha sequence (many refer to this is Bikram) is a really great place to start.


In a way, that is the best—as you have so much to gain!

Thank you so much for your contribution Siobhan. Those are great tips. There is so much wisdom in this community!

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Oh, this does make me happy! It really should feel good! Do you have a block? They are great for any hamstring stretch as they allow you to straighten your legs even if you can’t yet touch your toes.

I promise!

I can still straighten my legs, but I can’t touch my toes. So it depends on which move I’m doing. I’ve never been able to touch my toes even when I was young and more flexible. So I’ll likely never be able to. So if I do a forward fold I’ll bend my knees. But if told to touch my toes I straighten my legs and stretch my hamstrings even if I can’t touch my toes. Would the block help me balance by giving me something else to touch?

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just a plus one to keep at it from someone who is also very inflexible. I found blocks have helped a lot and the yin videos Abi suggested are great. I have seen improvements and more importantly find myself less sore, it really does help with recovery!

@emacdoug There is some hip unlocking that has to happen to get there along with stabilizing the spine. I used to have the same problem.

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It truly is. It takes time. Sometime there are what feel like set backs too. I can say that consistency pays off. I’ve been at mile 35 of 40 with my lower back in spasms and have woken up the next day with no pain or cramps. I think in a large part due practicing with @abicarver every day.


Your discipline has put you in good stead!! Thank you for encouraging others to keep at it Erick, even though it can seem intimidating in the early days.


I get that I am new to yoga and def need to stretch of a bit too get used to the exercises. I am no where near getting to the same position as that demonstrated and was wondering if this is actually doing more harm than good, after all doing the stretch/pose wrong can be just as damaging as not doing it.
I also think the speed of the changes and numerous movements for beginners is too quick/many. Some of us have limited space and stopping to view the iPad or change position takes to long and the away from the stretch. Don’t suppose there is any chance of the yoga being simplified for total beginners?

I made some progress by developing a little routine with two to three poses focussing on the areas I need improvement the most. These poses I do very slowly on my rhythm and with 12 breathes each (Why 12? Biggest number with one syllable!) I still do most of the Yoga sessions from my SYSTM plan, but I don’t mind too much if I can’t do poses in these sessions because I know in time, I will progress.

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I was in the same boat as you with very limited flexibility, particularly in the calves and hamstrings.

I have found that being consistent with a routine, in my case the Super Easy Stretch III routine after every workout, I have seen real progress with my flexibility and feel confident about progressing to more complex poses.

Also, after a few attempts you will probably know the routine well enough to follow using verbal prompts only.

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Also a rank beginner - and continue to feel so after a year+ with SUFF - and I agree with this. @abicarver doesn’t speed you through things, but as I’ve gotten comfortable with the routines, i spend less time trying to follow along on the iPad. So…keep at it, I guess?

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That’s really common! Yoga instructors are hugely more flexible than us 15 minute types. Part of that is that they are pros and do yoga all the time and part is that most are genetically gifted with more flexible bodies. Think of the demonstration as an inspiration and simply do less. As @abicarver says: don’t muscle your way into a pose. That’s how you hurt yourself. Instead modify to something you can do. Overtime, you’ll be able to do more, although you’re unlikely to ever be able to look like the demonstration.


Me too. Longer torso than legs and I haven’t touched my toes since 2nd grade. Interesting about the hip to rib measurements. I should look at that too. Either way I do need to work on my flexibility and although I can’t always do these sessions I’m glad to have some structure until I join a ballet class for men over 50.


From these videos, I’ve realized another one - because of my short torso, I can’t sit on the floor and straighten my arms at my sides, either. My normal-length arms need me to be sitting on a block for my palms to rest on the floor with flat arms. Trust me, that comes up a lot in SUFF yoga videos!


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