You want to touch your toes?
One of the things I hear the most when talking about yoga with people who don't practice is "I can't do yoga, I can't even touch my toes!".
First, that really doesn't matter. Yoga isn't about touching your toes.
Second, you may think your hamstrings (the back of your legs) are really "tight", and that's why you can't reach down there. That may be a reason - shorter muscles are possible, we're all made different. However I would like to invite you to think about the position you are in most of the day, most days.
Yup, it's sitting.
When you are sitting, you are actually in a "forward fold". You hips are flexed (your legs are closer to your belly), therefore the back of the legs is in a longer shape.
Please note that I'm not saying this is true for everyone, and I am not a doctor nor a physiotherapist. But if those muscles are constantly stretched, why do they feel so tight and short?
A possible explanation is that those muscles stay in a stretched state for such long periods of time, they get weak. As they get weak, the body has the reflex to protect them.
If a muscle is weak, it won't be as able to lengthen (stretch) safely.
As a result, you fold forward trying to reach your toes, and the body reacts "wowow hold on, that's way too dangerous! stop it!"
I am a big fan of strengthening, an I invite you to try strengthening those muscles that feel "tight", and which you PROBABLY have the tendency and craving to stretch MORE!
After a few weeks of strengthening, and some stretching if you really want (I personally like active stretching and moving through our ranges of motion with at least a little bit of weight), let me know how you feel!
Examples of exercises:
You can practice this flow:
Or the following exercises:
- Bridge lifts
- Dead lifts
(start with small weights and work up)
- Hip thrusts
Make sur you stay mindful of how your body feels. Work hard, but take breaks when you need, and seek professional help if needed (personal trainer, physiotherapist, etc).
Remember that changes occurs slowly, and with repetition and constant practice.
Have fun, and keep breathing!