In yoga exercise, we have a tendency to put a great deal of focus on extending as a way towards a lot more versatility. Just what really happens in our body when we stretch? Most of us imagine our bodies as being composed of play-doh like cells that we pull on and also make longer with extending, however new science is disclosing to us a design of extending that is considerably a lot more complex, vibrant, and fascinating than what has actually previously been thought of. As well as it turns out that reasoning of our physical bodies in this older “play-doh” like variation could be disadvantageous as well as can result in a number of injuries as well as architectural problems arising from our yoga exercise technique. In order to keep our remarkable yoga exercise tradition advancing as well as present, it is necessary that we comprehend this new and also remarkable scientific research of stretching and also any type of implications it might offer for our technique and teaching.


Biomechanics-based Corrective ExerciseTM educates a bunch of brand-new and also eye-opening info about extending and also adaptability that isn’t yet open secret in the yoga exercise world. Additionally, the wonderful yoga exercise educator Jules Mitchell is on a goal to educate the yoga exercise community about the scientific research of stretching. Her recently-completed master’s thesis in exercise scientific research is an extensive literature evaluation of the most existing medical research study on stretching to this day, as well as it’s complete of an abundance of vital details for yogis.

Utilizing the cutting-edge understanding that these resources supply, let’s examine several of our present ideas about extending and also present some handy ways we could begin to upgrade these beliefs to mirror the most recent medical word on the street.


Most people consider their muscle mass as being either “long” or “short”, as well as that during a stretch, they are targeting their “short” muscles by literally “lengthening” or “loosening” them. In this extending standard, our muscle mass are mold-able cells like taffy or play-doh which we could form right into a form of our deciding on by just drawing or pushing on them. For instance, when we fold up ahead right into paschimottanasana (seated onward fold), we have the tendency to envision that our hamstrings are physically growing longer during that minute of our stretch similarly that taffy would certainly grow longer if we yanked on both of its ends for some time. We visualize that when we launch paschimottanasana, our hamstrings stay simply a bit longer compared to they were before we did the stretch. As well as we likewise visualize that the longer and also further we hold a pose like paschimottanasana, the longer and also looser our hamstrings become.

This stretching paradigm is what most of us were shown in our yoga lessons, workshops, and instructor trainings. It’s totally understandable that we may see the physical body as working like this, yet new study is revealing a really various version of the biomechanics of stretching.


We all understand that when we stretch, we experience a sensation of “tightness” at our end variety of motion – an experience that restricts us from relocating any sort of deeper right into the stretch. We have actually typically defined this “tight” feeling as the result of having reached the end length of the muscle mass(s) we’re stretching. In shorts, we pulled on completions of our muscular tissue till we reached its maximum physical length, and also when we struck that border, the stretch stopped as well as we really felt the “rigidity”. With sufficient stretching, we could increase the length of our muscle mass and also as a result move further right into our stretch with time.

spiritualityBut we now comprehend that boosting our adaptability has a lot less to do with the bodily length of our muscle tissue, and much even more to do with the component of our body that controls and relocates our muscles: the nervous system. Our mind, the main command center of our anxious system, is in continuous interaction with our muscles and one of its primary imperatives is to keep our body where it regards it is safe. Regular activities that we make throughout our day are thought about risk-free by the brain due to the fact that it recognizes and counts on them. Yet on the opposite hand, our mind is not familiar with arrays of movement that we never ever move into, so it’s considerably less most likely to think about those locations protected. When we extend, if we move right into a place that the mind isn’t aware of, our anxious system will certainly finish our stretch by communicating with our muscular tissues to place the breaks on the movement.

For instance, if you happen to work with your computer for 8 strong hrs a day (and also if you don’t take regular intermittent stretch breaks for your shoulders – hint hint ), the human brain growings extremely aware of the arms-forward position that you utilize while typing and takes into consideration that range secure. Later on, if you determine to do an upper body stretch in which you take your arm out to the side and also after that behind you, the mind doesn’t really feel that that activity is safe since you so seldom go there, so it will limit your variety very early on in the stretch.

A significant takeaway from this brand-new flexibility paradigm is that when we increase our variety of activity via stretching, it isn’t considering that we drew on our cells as well as made them longer. It’s because we saw the edge of our stretch (additionally called stretch “endurance”) sufficient times that our brain started to feel comfortable there and also it started to allow us to move deeper into that range.


It’s most definitely intriguing and also much more medically accurate to comprehend this previously-overlooked duty that our nerves plays in versatility. Yet whether it’s your nervous system or the bodily length of your muscles limiting you in a stretch, why does it matter? Isn’t really a stretch a stretch, no matter of the mechanism behind it?

yoga matThat’s a fantastic inquiry – I’m so pleased you asked! The primary response relates to what tissues are being targeted when we extend. We often think and discuss stretching our muscles in our yoga positions (i.e. paschimottanasana stretches our “hamstrings”), however in reality our muscular tissues are involved by, interwoven with, and also inseparable from our fascia. Our fascia is our incredible body-wide internet of connective tissue that is actually anywhere within us, as well as it includes our tendons and tendons. Muscular tissues as well as fascia are 2 unique tissues with various residential properties, but both are had an effect on when we stretch. And how we pick to extend, which is based upon whether we think that we’re physically lengthening our muscles (old standard) or enhancing our nerves’s tolerance for the stretch (brand-new standard), identifies how our fascia will be influenced during the movement. (Sneak peek for Part 2 of this post: if we’re choosing the older “drawing on our cells like play-doh’ paradigm, we’ll really feel a lot more drawn to stretching deeper and also harder in our postures, which is considerably a lot more most likely to merely damage our tissues compared to offer us the adaptability we look for.)

I’ll elaborate more on this as well as opposite crucial subjects, like just how we might choose to use this brand-new details to our yoga exercise method and training, in my following article. Remain tuned, individuals! And also in the meantime, if you’re interested in more book, visit this remarkable write-up by Jules Mitchell (written for a quite science-oriented viewers). View you for Part 2 soon!