But I’m not flexible enough for yoga.
I am currently studying Gentle Somatic Yoga which does not include much stretching and definitely not holding “stretches” for more than a few seconds. I will explain what Gentle Somatic Yoga is, why I’m obsessed with it, why you should try it, and why stretching isn’t always the answer.
As a yoga teacher I hear “I can’t touch my toes” or “I’m not flexible enough for yoga” all the time from people wanting to try yoga but thinking they aren’t flexible enough to do it. That’s one of the reasons to practice yoga is to gain mobility and range of motion. But also flexibility isn’t what it is all about.
As a Licensed Massage Therapist I know that flexibility isn’t always the best thing for everyone. Hyper-mobility or think of it as being very flexible or double jointed (no such thing as double jointed – this is just how it is known ) can cause pain and loss of stability and strength. I would suggest for everyone to try but specifically hyper-mobile folks to give Gentle Somatic Yoga a try.
Gentle Somatic Yoga means to be “Embodied” or to work from the inside out. It is a way to re-pattern the brain to muscle connection to help release the muscles. Unlike Hatha Yoga (typical yoga in the U.S.) we don’t stretch the muscles we pandiculate the muscles. An example of pandiculation is watching a dog stretch first thing after waking up they gently contract the muscles, lengthen, then release. Definition of “pandiculation” muscles are gently contracted and slowly released to help retrain the nervous system and allow muscle to release.
Through the Gentle Somatic Yoga flows you will retrain your brain to muscle connection, release tension, correct your posture, and most of all turn inward. Be prepared to move slowly but intentionally.
In Gentle Somatic Yoga we release and not stretch because we do not want to activate the myotactic reflex or stretch reflex. This reflex causes a muscle that is stretched to recoil to protect itself from injury therefore contracting it and not releasing it.
Another thing you will learn in Gentle Somatic Yoga is called Sensory Motor Amnesia which is when a muscle forgets how to release. You can get massage’s or work out tension with a lacrosse balls but with Sensory Motor Amnesia the muscle tension will basically come back after a short time but with practicing GSY you retrain the brain how to find a “normal” or “new normal/released state”.
Gentle Somatic Yoga has been known to ease these conditions:
•PTSD •Chronic Pain •Poor Posture •Muscle Spasms •Arthritis •Headaches/Migraines (has helped me tremendously with mine) •Parkinson’s disease • Multiple Sclerosis • Fibromyalgia
As well as many others…..
Through practicing Gentle Somatic Yoga or subtle mindful movement you will become more aware and it can increase your overall well-being.
So, no, you don’t need to touch your toes. There is so much more to yoga then that. Think increased mobility or functionality versus flexibility. Yoga is a full body practice physical, mental, emotional, and can be spiritual.
There are so many different types of yoga out there, I suggest you try many and find what works for you. If you live with chronic pain I strongly suggest you give Gentle Somatic Yoga a try.
I studied with James Knight who started Gentle Somatic Yoga you can learn more here http://www.gentlesomaticyoga.com
You can learn more about me or to find my schedule check out http://www.embodiedworks.net
Wrote by Toni Caroline Meeks
Edited by Cynthia Campbell