Flexibility is Not Genetic – Secret #6 of 7

Jen told me, “Everyone in my family is stiff, so I’m a lost cause.”

She came to class as a student wanting to increase her flexibility for two main reasons. She loved gardening, but couldn’t squat down to harvest her strawberries; and secondly, she felt that simple tasks like tying her shoes and picking things up off the shower floor were becoming overly difficult.

Some people want to put their foot behind their head, others want to tie their shoes.

For Jen, she was convinced her stiff body was a life sentence determined by her genetics. She believed she was “born this way,” but she was wrong—and so are you if you think that you’re genetically stiff.

So do genetics matter at all?

Of course they do, but what we call flexibility as adults (in our modern time) is actually just natural range of motion.

Let me explain by telling you about my two kids…

My daughter, Coral, is not what you’d call “naturally flexible.” She’s mobile in the same way most kids are. She can forward fold, backbend with straight arms, and sit cross-legged on the floor. To most adults, she’d be considered a human pretzel, while the reality is she’s much less flexible than many of her peers.

She’s obsessed with dance and gymnastics at the moment, and if she continues with her interest in movement and mobility, she’ll increase her flexibility as she gets older. Great!

My second kid, Silver, is a floppy rag doll. He’s what you’d call, “naturally flexible.” He folds in half with no effort at all and sleeps in all kinds of crazy contortions.

But here’s the thing. Silver is just as much at risk for losing his flexibility as anyone—if not more so because he’s not showing any interest in mobility practices like his sister (he seems more likely to play football or wrestling).

Here’s why this matters for you.

Chances are, you were born with natural range motional mobility too, and then you lost it. Maybe you over trained in the gym, or sat behind a desk all day for years, or maybe your simply let things go unchecked until one day, squatting down with your heels on the floor became impossible.

The good news is you can gain back your youthful mobility through specific yoga and nutritional practices. Your flexibility is not gone, it’s just lost and I can help you find it.

With yoga postures for flexibility specifically, here’s what I’ve found to be most effective.

  • You need to stretch 5 days per week, for at least 15 minutes. More is great, but 15 minutes is a solid base.
  • You need to practice long-hold Gravity Poses. These are passive stretches that target specific “trouble” areas.
  • You need to get uncomfortable during practice. Laying around on your mat is not going to transform your soft tissues, you need to go deep.

Squatting is one of the most basic human movements (it’s how we’re meant to poo, after all), but most people can’t do it. So here’s a passive stretching exercise for the hips that you can do right now.

The Goblin Squat

1. Standing, bring your feet wide apart, much wider than your hips

2. Squat down as deep as you can and turn your feet out at a 45-degree angle

3. Bring your arms inside your knees, and rest your hands on the floor with your palms facing up

4. Drop your head and relax

Ok, now we begin. Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth for 50 breaths. Use as little muscular energy as possible and focus instead on mental energy. Your mind’s task? Relax, breathe, stop struggling.

Try that for a few days before bed, and let me know how it goes…