My Life as a Yoga Guinea Pig
I followed Anthony’s flexibility training program exactly as he instructed. It really only takes 15 minutes per day, and you do it right before bed so it’s easy to fit into your schedule. I’m not saying it’s easy, these are really challenging poses, the time goes by quickly and results are incredible. I began eating the water and nutrient-dense foods Anthony recommended, and I even started experimenting with some basic whole food supplements, things you can now find in any pharmacy (that wasn’t the case back t hen).
In less than 30 days, I added six inches onto my forward bend, slid my legs into full lotus for the first time (just barely), and even practiced Wheel pose with straight arms.
In the office, people used to laugh at me when I bent over to pick a pen up off the ground—I was always “that stiff guy,” but using Anthony’s simple system, I doubled my stretching flexibility, and it felt amazing, like adding an extra room onto my house.
And it didn’t stop there.
Imagine waking up in the morning and being able to fold forward completely flat against your legs. What if your lower back was loose, limber, and pain-free all the time? What if your hips were open enough so you could sit on the floor with your legs crossed without any discomfort?
Flexible people sleep better, suffer from fewer injuries, build lean muscle more easily, dance better, and have higher self-esteem. Plus, bendy people are better at sports, and they’re even better in bed.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
There are two types of people: those who have always been limber and those who can’t even touch their toes without their hamstrings screaming out and their lower back igniting with pain. Since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re in the second category, like I was, but the good news is you can get back to your natural state.
When I started using this system, I noticed changes in a matter of days, and within a month, other people could see my body transforming. Within a year, I felt like I had an entirely new body. And the best part is, since 2007, I’ve now helped over 51,000 people double, triple, or even quadruple their flexibility using this same method.
Why Nutrition Matters
There’s a reason why bodybuilders eat loads of protein and endurance athletes suck down sugary gels—it makes them better at their individual sports. Almost every movement practice in the world has a preferred diet, but the traditional yoga diet of bread, milk, beans, and rice is a total disaster for health and flexibility.
In an ideal world, it would be great if we all ate a perfectly balanced, micronutrient-dense diet and drank spring water loaded with minerals. But we don’t. Micronutrient deficiencies are more common than not since the advent of mass agriculture because mass-produced food is synonymous with low micronutrient food.
Food today is grown for calories and taste, not nutrients. Earth’s soils are abused to the edge of infertility, and the result is that we have an abundance of foods that are loaded with calories but light on micronutrients. I’m talking about vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, and all kinds of other compounds we’ve yet to discover or fully understand.
For yoga students, the micronutrients are what really matters.
These micro or ‘small’ nutrients are essential for the health of your body’s connective tissues. Sulfur, magnesium, vitamin C, and essential fats, for example, are crucial for soft tissue health. Flexibility training is subtle energy work and highly demanding on your body. A protein shake or an energy gel is not ideal for yoga students. Green juice, sulfur-rich vegetables, omega-3s, vitamin C laden fruits… these are the foods of yoga students.
Passive Stretches + Time Under Passive Tension
When I first started stretching, I wish someone had told me that muscles stretch best when they are relaxed. It seems obvious now, but I’d never thought it through. This concept is essential if you’re serious about increasing your flexibility, so I’ll say that again: muscles stretch best when relaxed. This means when you’re in the middle of a dynamic movement, whether running or doing Warrior I, it’s very unlikely your soft tissues will lengthen. It can happen, but it’s a very slow process and much less effective than when you’re completely relaxed. Gravity Yoga involves long-hold, timed poses in a completely passive position.Here’s why this matters.
If you’re looking to transform shortened tissues (tight hamstrings, locked up hips, stiff shoulders), your flexibility training must include passive, long-hold stretches with appropriate breathing to turn off your nervous system’s stretch reflex. We want your body like a wet noodle. You want to turn on your parasympathetic nervous system, and then gently lengthen your soft tissues.
This is so effective that within five minutes, you’ll see and feel a dramatic difference in your range of motion from your first session. Within a week, you’ll have made lasting changes, and within 30 days, your body will look and feel noticeably different in a variety of poses.
Here are the fundamentals of Gravity Yoga:
- Long-hold poses are essential to turn off your stretch reflex and gently lengthen your soft tissues while disengaged
- Nose-to-mouth breathing with a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio down-regulates your nervous system and allows your body to soften
- Flexibility training should be done after any other type of exercise and ideally, before bed because you never want loosen joints before a workout
- You must ‘meet or beat’ your passive stretch hold times daily to incite change, otherwise your body will naturally come out of poses before any lengthening happens
My most successful students practice for 15 minutes a day, right before bed. All you need is enough space to roll out a mat, a stopwatch (use your phone), and you’re ready to go. There is nothing magical or mystical about this practice, so if you want to stretch while you listen to music or watch your favorite show, go right ahead.
NOTE: Science of Stretching™ has nothing in common with warm-up stretches, dynamic or ballistic stretching you probably learned in physical education class as a kid. This is intense, measured flexibility training that targets specific areas of the body, and you’ll immediately feel the difference.