Is Yoga Good for Mobility? All You Need to Know
Nowadays, almost nobody can honestly say that they never heard about yoga. Yet, a couple of decades ago, yoga was still quite unknown to most Westerners, mostly practiced in India and other Asiatique countries.
As part of India’s ancient traditions and physical practices, yoga is now known and practiced worldwide by all types of people.
Of course, this large expansion comes with a wide range of different yoga styles, schools, and ways of practice. That implies that two people practicing “yoga” can actually do very different things depending on what type of yoga they are practicing.
For the sake of the subject of this article, we are going to put aside all the different yoga styles and consider what are the effect of an average yoga practice on mobility as it would be way too complicated to evaluate each yoga style.
Nonetheless, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that the positive impact of yoga on your physical mobility will vary depending on what yoga style your practice.
Yoga is one of many movement disciplines that are naturally increasing the mobility of your body.
Mobility is one of the most important physical abilities you need to train and maintain in order to stay healthy and increase your autonomous life expectancy, which represents the number of years you can live without the need for any external help, in full autonomy.
Before looking at how yoga increases your body’s mobility, let’s first explain what mobility is and why it is of particular importance for overall well-being.
There is two sense to mobility, and it is important not to confuse them.
The first sense, mostly used and understood by ordinary people, can be expressed by the following definition:
Mobility is the ability of an individual to move or change positions independently and with ease.
The second sense, mostly used and understood by professionals and people passionate about physical activities, can be expressed by the following definition:
Mobility represents the maximum active range of motion of your body.
The second sense includes the first as of course the better your maximum active range of motion is, the easier you will move or change positions.
However, the second definition is essential to understand the true value of mobility that goes way beyond the simple capacity to move or change positions independently and with ease.
The most important word in this definition is “active”. Active means that you have control over your range of motion and you can decide what movement you do or not. Therefore having great mobility means that you can do a wide range of movements with various parts of your body, which is essential to learn various sports and movement practices, like:
- Horse riding
Of course, to achieve those, mobility won’t be enough, you will need additional capabilities like coordination, strength, and others but all those will be useless if you don’t have good mobility.
From a health perspective, someone could argue that you can be healthy without being capable of skiing, skating or climbing which is true, but good mobility is equally important outside of the sport realm.
For example, having good mobility is important to prevent injuries when:
- Stumbling-tripping over something
- Doing a false movement
- Having an accident
- Making a strong and sudden physical effort
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Factors that negatively impact mobility
Several factors can contribute to reducing your mobility. Here is a list of the most important ones:
- Muscle tension
- Lack of physical activity
- Bodybuilding with external weight or exercise machines
Muscle tension is the biggest negative factor of all. It is because of it that the majority of the population suffers from a lack of mobility.
When there is muscle tension, the muscle loses its maximum range, automatically reducing our active range of motion (mobility).
A lot of people still believe that they can’t have muscular tension if they don’t do any type of physical activity, but in reality, it does not work that way.
The majority of people’s muscular tension does not come from overexercising but the exact opposite: the absence of physical activity.
The biological reality is that our body is designed to be in movement, not fixed and trapped behind a desk, sitting for hours every day.
When we inflict that on our body repeatedly, we are harming it, and sadly it starts to accumulate muscle tension, even if we don’t move!
Lack of physical activity
Maintaining mobility can’t be done mentally, you need to activate your body physically. In that case, theory is no good, practice is what makes all the difference.
On top of being a cause for muscle tension, lack of physical activity directly affects mobility as it does not stimulate your body to maintain it.
To understand that, it is important to remember that, biologically, it is the function that creates the organ, in other words, it is the need that creates the supply. If you don’t force your body to maintain its abilities, it will not do it by itself.
Today, an increasing portion of the population suffers from a sedentary lifestyle and chronic lack of movement and sport, leading inevitably to a lack of mobility.
Bodybuilding with external weight or exercise machines
They are many problems with using external weight and exercise machines to build muscle, but here is what is interesting concerning mobility.
Those training will rapidly shorten muscles and hypertrophy them which directly reduces your mobility.
It is like muscle tension, but in this case, it is caused by a certain type of training that emphasizes brute force and a muscular look.
From a health point of view, we can only advise against these kinds of practices that are not suited to building functional strength and good mobility.
The Practice of Yoga
First of all, it’s important to remember that what we are talking about here when we say “yoga” is just the physical practice side of it. Yoga in its complete sense includes many other things like its own meditation technics, philosophy, and ethics of life.
But regarding mobility, it is only the physical practice that interests us.
As we mentioned above, they are several ways to practice yoga, depending on what yoga style you practice and your own preferences and adaptations.
Some styles can be quite soft like Hatha yoga, and others can be much stronger like Ashtanga yoga.
But in general, they will all contain one core element of the yoga practice: asanas.
Asanas, literally meaning “posture” in the Sanskrit language, are postures that you will need to hold for a certain period of time. These postures can be very simple like standing still legs together or very hard like a handstand.
The variety of postures and the time to hold them will depend on your level and will progressively increase as you improve. Also, in most yoga styles, you will practice asana flows also called yoga sequence. Those are simply transitions between postures that combined with the postures holds, create a whole cycle of movement, and posture holds, that you can repeat multiple times.
Benefits of Yoga
They are several benefits of practicing yoga, starting with improved mobility.
The way yoga is improving your mobility is pretty straightforward. No matter what yoga style your practice, you will do, one way or another, asanas. As we mentioned above those asanas are postures to hold with different degrees of difficulty.
When you hold those postures, you are directly activating your mobility as your need to actively hold those postures. The more complicated and difficult those postures will be, the more you will improve your mobility.
Now, here is a list of other benefits of yoga that you can obtain:
- Increased proprioception (body awareness)
- Stress release (mainly with the practice of pranayamas yoga breath exercises)
- Improved balance (with asanas like the crow pose)
- Improved flexibility (especially with long holds of asanas)
- Muscle sheathing (any holding exercise)
- Respiratory control (pranayamas yoga breath exercises)
Those benefits are related to the physical practice part of yoga, you can achieve additional benefits if you practice yoga in its complete form.
Other Factors Influencing Mobility
When talking about any physical abilities like mobility, flexibility, coordination, etc. it’s always important to keep in mind that the body is a whole and that everything is interconnected.
You can’t have good mobility without having good overall health. In that sense, we can say that there is an endless list of other factors that are influencing mobility.
That’s why a holistic approach to the body is always better to achieve lasting results. If you are looking for ways to improve your mobility then the help of a professional holistic approach can make you win precious time.
For example, if you have a poor diet full of unhealthy food and drinks, if you have a bad lifestyle that harms your body then all this will negatively affect your mobility.
Mobility is also related to your other physical abilities. If you improve your coordination, your proprioception, and your flexibility, you will automatically improve your mobility as well.
Mobility is one of the key physical abilities that you need in order to thrive physically. Yoga is, amongst other movement practices, a great tool to improve and maintain your mobility.
Mobility represents the maximum active range of motion of your body. The bigger your active range of motion is the better you will learn and perform any physical activity.
Some factors can negatively impact your mobility, but with adequate knowledge, you can largely mitigate them.
Through the practice of asanas and pranayamas, yoga will provide you with many additional benefits like flexibility, muscle sheathing, stress release, etc.
Many other factors can influence your mobility positively or negatively. To get the best result in improving your mobility, we recommend that you get the help of a Holistic Natural Health Expert who will be able to navigate all those factors and advise you accordingly.
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