Yoga for more flexibility, strength & mobility

Yoga for more flexibility, strength & mobility

With yoga we can build greater flexibility, strength and mobility. But how are these three areas related and why is it so important to find the balance between them? In her guest article, OGNX Ambassador Johanna from BowlsandBalance explains the difference between flexibility and mobility and shows you helpful exercises to improve strength, mobility and flexibility.

Myth: Flexibility in Yoga

“I can’t do yoga because I’m too rigid.”

Do you know how many times I've heard that phrase? Both very athletic and unathletic people often think that you first have to be flexible and then you can start doing yoga. But if you've learned something new at some point in your life (and I'm assuming you have now!), you know that it's exactly the other way around: first comes the practice or learning and then comes the skill.

As my yoga therapy instructor says: Everyone can practice yoga. It doesn't matter whether you're sitting in a wheelchair or can put your feet on your head in a handstand. Yoga is so much more than the photos or videos of hyper-mobile people we see every day on social media.

What is yoga about?

In my opinion, yoga is all about developing a better sense of yourself. Maybe, like me, you will first find access through your body and learn to move in a new way to the rhythm of your breath. Other people find access through the mind, learn to meditate and deal with their feelings more carefully.

But if you practice for a while, you will realize that body and mind are inextricably linked. When you practice with your body, it has an effect on your mind and vice versa. That's why yoga works on all levels.

The better your feeling for yourself is, the better you will know what is good for you and what is not. Then you no longer have to wonder what is right and wrong with all the conflicting information you find. You will perceive your body's signals more and more precisely. In order to develop this fine body awareness, you need a little patience. The exciting thing is that you can learn something new every day and over time you will discover a range of movement that you didn't even know was possible for you.

Yoga exercises for more mobility

Strength or mobility?

The brilliant thing is that you strengthen and stretch your body at the same time with almost every yoga exercise. While part of your muscles work to keep you stable and balanced, other muscles are elongated. That's why yogis usually have such long and lean muscles and still have a lot of strength.

Strength and mobility are not mutually exclusive. But what I have observed about myself for years is that they directly influence each other. The more I strengthen my muscles, the stronger and more stable my body becomes. So if we only do strength exercises, over time the body will become stiffer and less flexible (depending on the type of exercises). On the other hand, if I just keep stretching, our tissue will wear out over time. Although I become very flexible, I lack stability, which can lead to injuries.

We always need both: strength and mobility.

What is the difference between agility and mobility?

What role does mobility play in all this? Strictly speaking, mobility is part of mobility. When most people think of flexibility, they think of how far they can stretch their muscles (and fascia), for example when we bend our upper body forward while standing. But we not only need flexible muscles and fascia, but also mobility in the joints.

Mobility is about the ability of the joints to move freely. This form of mobility is influenced by our anatomy and everyday movement patterns. The more one-sided we move, the less freedom of movement we have.

Depending on whether you have previously focused more on strength or flexibility, you can consciously create a balance with the following exercises. Depending on how you perform the exercises, you can improve your flexibility (muscular and fascial), as well as your strength and mobility.

Yoga exercises for more mobility

Improve mobility with yoga

There are different ways you can become more flexible with yoga. In my opinion, the most effective way is to consciously work with your breath. This way you expand your range of motion and stay focused. Because if you are really careful with yourself, you will also protect yourself from injuries that happen quickly when we want to get our body into a certain shape as quickly as possible.

These exercises increase your mobility:

Yoga exercises for more mobility

To make it easier to grip your back foot, you can also use a yoga strap.

Build strength with yoga

By the time you 've held 15 breaths in "Downward-Facing Dog" or "Utkatasana (Chair Pose)" for the first time, you'll know that yoga has a lot to do with strength. Although we “only” practice with our own body weight in yoga, you will build muscle quite quickly. Undoubtedly, it is a different strength than that which you train by squatting with heavy weights. You won't get any big muscles from it either. Instead, you develop strength that strengthens and stabilizes you from within and at the same time allows you greater and greater freedom of movement.

Build strength with these exercises:

Yoga exercises for more strength

Improve mobility with yoga

The main reason why many people (especially in Europe and America) have low mobility is due to their one-sided movement patterns. Because most of the time we sit, lie or stand. Mobility is promoted when we make the best possible use of our joints' range of motion and expand it within the scope of our anatomical possibilities. Most yoga postures do not occur in our everyday lives and are therefore particularly effective in promoting our mobility. If you already practice yoga regularly, try to keep learning new movement patterns and move quite intuitively, regardless of the classic asanas.

You can increase your mobility with these exercises:

Yoga exercises for more mobility

Would you like to read more about yoga? You can find further articles and tips on Johanna's website Bowlsandbalance and on her social media profile.