Train smart to avoid injuries and see results faster
If you've been doing stretching or yoga for a while, you've probably noticed a progression in your practice. Your body is opening up, you have an idea of your poses, you've reached some of your flexibility goals, and set a few new ones. At this point, you might be wondering - what's next for me? How do I take my practice to the next level? Here are a few intermediate tips to help you reach your goals safely and effectively.
Continue to listen to your body
Make sure you're not pushing yourself too hard. It is crucial to continue to give yourself time and space for recovery. It's ok to increase the number of training days, but don't go 150% every single time you train. Mix deep stretching sessions with light ones. If you use the StretchIt app, take beginner classes once in a while. Schedule rest days. If you feel completely broken down, physically incapacitated, or in pain - you've gone too far. Remember that you're training to feel better, not to feel worse. Continue to listen to your body and try your best to avoid overtraining.
Don't be discouraged by plateauing
Plateauing can be frustrating, but it's totally normal. Most people progress faster in the early stages of training. Later on, the poses become harder, and it might take longer to master them. Remember that progress is coming. Just keep going. Acknowledge yourself for the small victories. Appreciate how you feel instead of always being attached to those measurable goals.
Progress photos are important but don't focus on them too much. Tune in to how you feel, because that is often the biggest reward. Don't get frustrated if progress is slow. Stay compassionate with yourself and your body and know that what you're doing is beneficial no matter the results. The results are coming as long as you continue to do the work.
Start to advance your training
If certain poses become easy, start to advance them. Yoga blocks are excellent props for modification. If a front split is easy, put a block under your front foot and try an oversplit. If one block becomes easy, add another one and so on. Do the same for the middle split. Try placing a block under one or both feet. To modify cobra or puppy pose, place blocks under your hands. Get creative and see how your body responds.
Incorporate body care
Take care of your body. Keep moving and do some light stretching on your off days so that when you do get into an intense training session, it's not a total shock to your body. Try foam rolling. Get a massage. Schedule an acupuncture session. Treat yourself with an Epsom salt bath. Eat well and drink a lot of water. You are asking a lot of your body when you train, so be sure to compensate with self-care. Listen to your body and be smart about how you're treating yourself. Good luck!