4

I am a 44 year old male that want to maintain and improve my flexibility. I think it would be helpful with someone showing me the exercises so I have searched for courses in my area. Have not found any general flexibility course, but a lot of Yoga classes.

From what I gather there are many types of Yoga. I would be interested in taking such a course if it was practical and pragmatic. I am not interested in any eastern philosophies or flow of energy or other mysterious concepts. I want to know: which muscles are we stretching now, and how do we do that.

Also I am not interested in extreme flexibility. Just normal flexibility. I think anything above normal flexibility would be dangerous: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html and also I have no interest in it. Also my focus is flexibility (and balance). Strength I get other ways. A little bit of meditation could not hurt.

Do you have any type of Yoga you could suggest for me?

  • 1
    That NYTimes article is, to put it mildly, a crock of shit. Each incident is clearly a cause of a beginner trying advanced stretches, and messing it up, because he doesn't know proper form. His routine included spinal twists in which he rotated his head far to the left and far to the right. Then he would do a shoulder stand with his neck “maximally flexed against the bare floor, [...] for five minutes.” Holy... – Alec Feb 13 '18 at 13:08
  • @Alec: My point is that Yoga can potentially be dangerous. Hopefully they do not train advanced techniques in a beginner course. Is there any type of Yoga with very little emphasis on advanced and/or potentially dangerous techniques? – Andy Feb 13 '18 at 16:33
  • 1
    I take a yoga class once a week at my gym. It's Yin Yoga for beginners. The yin part means that we do static positions, as opposed to yang which focuses more on movement. And I'd say the beginner part is well deserved. There's a lot of emphasis on the idea that you only go so far as you feel comfortable, and there are no balls-to-the-wall positions. Definitely very mild. The big takeaway for me is that I learn the positions there, and I replicate them on my own after every workout as a form of cooldown and tension alleviation. – Alec Feb 13 '18 at 17:22
  • 1
    You might find this answer useful: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/13649/… – BKE Feb 13 '18 at 23:17
  • 1
2

Locus standi to answer: Been practising yoga for 11 years, on and off, in different programs. I'm Indian so a lot of texts and treatises, including some of the original ones are somewhat accessible to me.

Now first off, the idea that there are different 'forms' of yoga is almost certainly hogwash. There are different schools, sure, and that's only because different teachers specialise in different areas and try to develop those areas more. I'll come to this in a little more detail later.

Second, you needn't worry (or be dismissive of) 'eastern philosophies', because you will anyway NOT be able to integrate those into your yoga practice until years. Any teacher who starts talking about energy flow and stuff to a beginner class is very likely taking people for a ride because they don't have means to verify.

Now, coming to the dangers involved - they are very real if yoga is practised incorrectly or under a substandard teacher. I would strongly recommend against learning online. A good yoga instructor is trained in anatomy, to the extent that they will be able to tell when you are in pain, when you are using the wrong muscles or breathing wrong by looking at your posture. You won't get that online or with a teacher who has done a 2-month training course.

Coming now to a suggestion : try Iyengar yoga. Its a school of yoga founded by BKS Iyengar, and based on information provided in your question, I think it might be best suited for you. Reasons:

(1) BKS Iyengar was an extremely ill, un-flexible child who was forced into yoga. So his whole idea is to get people who are less flexible/aged/injured into yoga by means of props where necessary. That's why you see a lot of bricks, bands and ropes in Iyengar yoga classes. Your physical limitations are actively taken into account.

(2) Instructors need to train rigorously for a long period ( I think 7 years or so) before they can start teaching. This included periodic stints at Iyengar's house for personal training by Iyengar (while he was alive, RIP). So it is highly regimented, most wishy-washy students will never make it to instructor.

(3) It looks at holistic fitness and flexibility, not extreme spine bending, weight loss and stuff. If you learn long enough, you may get to some jaw dropping level, but for the most part, its gentle and gradual, but still rigorous.

Dislcaimer: I am not partisan to this school, it just seems best given the OP's question. One school I would recommend against for a beginner is what is called 'Ashtanga/Vinyasa', that is usually a little advanced and requires a fair amount of flexibility to start with.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.