Stretching is necessary in order to loosen joints, engage muscle groups, prevent injuries and help your body relax, but did you know there’s more than just the “basic” stretch? Here’s two types of stretches you’ll encounter often in your yoga practice – static stretching and dynamic stretching.
Learning about these stretches and how they can help your body can help you decide what you need for your practice.
Dynamic stretching involves making movements that extend the muscles. It boosts power, flexibility, and range of motion and may help prevent injury. Dynamic stretching has many different modifications that you can use to personalize the stretch to your body
Static stretching uses deep stretches that are held for a length of time. For example, when we settle into a yoga pose and let gravity take us further into it. Static stretching should be performed mindfully so that we don’t cause injury or overstraining.
Put it into action: Here’s an example of using both dynamic and static stretches in your yoga practice (seated forward bend). Start by sitting with your legs straight out in front of you. Reach for your toes (you may only be able to reach your shins. Listen to your body and don’t force the stretch). DYNAMIC: Inhale and lift/extend through the spine. Exhale, hinging at hips, and fold deeper. Repeat 3-5 times. STATIC: Relax into the forward fold and let gravity (and your exhalation) take your torso deeper towards your lower body.
Remember, there should be no pain during these stretches. The whole idea is that stretching regularly will help reduce the risk of injury, alleviate tight muscles or cramps caused by habitual movement patterns, and increase range of motion.