One of the most important elements in fitness yet often the most overlooked is flexibility. When muscles have more tension than they should an imbalance is created and the body’s movement is restricted. This makes any activity require more effort. It is through lengthening (stretching) tense muscles and tightening (strengthening) weak muscles that the body can be restored to a more balanced state. The more balanced the body is the more efficient the movement and the less likely an injury will occur. The following pages contain several poses that help to create a better balance of tension. Some may feel more like stretches while others may feel more like work.
Holding a pose for ten seconds is good but thirty seconds to a minute allows more time for the muscle balancing to occur. Performing the pose more than once can also bring about better results. If any pose causes pain, stop immediately and omit that pose from the program for the time being. Perhaps trying the same pose in the future may be advisable. As the body achieves a higher degree of balance certain poses that previously caused pain may be performed later without pain. Every body is different. Therefore, some poses may not be effective for everyone who performs them.
The following poses are grouped into four categories: lying, kneeling, sitting, and standing. Although the photographs do not depict the models using a paddle while stretching, an asterisk will be next to the poses that can incorporate a paddle. When creating your own flexibility program be sure to choose a few poses from each category.