The challenge with habits is they can often take so long to create, yet can slip away very quickly. It can often lead to yo-yo like results – up and down they go.
It turns out, the people who demonstrate high levels of flexibility have some common habits they share, that help them get and stay limber. And most importantly they know how to develop flexibility habits that stick over the long term.
Implement some of the habits we’ll be sharing in this post into your daily life, and who knows – you could become more flexible than you ever imagined, even if you’re as tight as a brick today (like I was).
This post has 2 key parts.
Part 1 is all about how to create sticky habits. Once you’ve learned this skill you’ll more easily be able to integrate Part 2 (the habits of the highly flexible) into your life, long term.
Part 1: How To Create Sticky Habits
Are Your Habits Teflon Coated?
So you probably know that simple daily habits are important for achieving pretty much anything in life, including getting flexible. However, knowing this doesn’t always help you to create what I like to call, ‘sticky habits.’ When your habits don’t stick it can feel like they’re covered in teflon.
Teflon habits are often a result of unclear intentions for what you’d like to achieve.
Your intentions in your physical practice are essentially the deeper why’s that drive you to perform specific habits. Your why’s are always running beneath the surface in your unconscious mind.
To uncover your deeper why’s here’s the two step process I’ve found most effective.
Step 1: Discover your why not.
Step 2: Find your deeper why.
The 5 Why’s You’re Not As Flexible As You May Like
After years of studying a wide range of areas from Shaolin monks, Chinese medicine and Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP), the importance of the question why has come up a lot. If used cleverly it can help you get to the source of things.
With my online coaching students around the world we often start off with this very simple, yet powerful exercise.
It’s called the five why questioning technique, and it’s specifically designed to help you realise why your habits aren’t sticking.
All you have to do is ask why five times to the habit you’re having trouble sticking to. The more critically honest you can be with yourself, the better this works.
Here’s an example of the process:
- Why aren’t I as flexible as I’d like?
– Because I don’t stretch often enough
- Why don’t I stretch often enough?
– Because I’m too busy
- Why am I too busy to stretch?
– Because I’ve got too many things to do
- Why do I have too many things to do?
– Because I’m always doing things for others
- Why am I always doing thing for others?
– Because I don’t prioritise my own needs.
Wow, that got heavy quickly. This moment of self honesty can help you tap into the source of why your chosen habits are coated in teflon.
The more your final why stirs up something inside of you, the closer you are to the source. If don’t feel you’ve reached the source after five why’s, simply keep asking the question until you do.
By addressing the source you may notice the habits begin to more naturally stick around, without all the effort.
The more you practice this, the better it works.
So go ahead, grab an old fashioned pen and paper and do the five why’s activity. Then reflect on what you’ve learned and address the source of the challenge your facing.
Once you’ve done that you can more easily discover your deeper why for improving your flexibility.
How To Find Your Deeper Why?
Once you’ve discovered why your habits may be covered in teflon in the activity above, it’s time to get clear on ‘why’ (at a deep level) you actually want to get full body flexibility, a handstand or simply re-balance your body.
This may be one of the most important exercises you do for your physical wellbeing, as it has the power to affect every breath and movement each time you practice.
Here’s another simple exercise I use when I teach, to help you get more clarity around your deeper why(s). This process will help you make your practice your own.
- Write in a journal, or anywhere you like what your needs, wishes and desired outcomes are from your physical wellbeing / movement / whatever you’d like to call it practice. If you don’t know, simply write the question down and come back to it in a day or so.
- Check in with yourself by asking on each need, wish, desire you write, ‘is this for my highest good, for my intended life blueprint’?
- Cross out the items that don’t feel right after you check in with yourself. Just trust the answers or signals you get.
- Sit quietly, meditate, or go for a walk in nature and breathe deeply. Ask for clear intentions to move towards you.
- Listen for your higher guidance and write down your clarified intention(s).
- Put your written intentions for why you need to be flexible, in places you’ll see regularly.
The more you practice this the more powerful it becomes.
This exercise led me to the following why’s / clear intentions for everything I do in my physical wellbeing practice.
Here’s my deeper why’s / intentions:
- To create spaciousness in my body and mind,
- To deepen connection with my environment, others and myself,
- To create the freedom to express myself physically and mentally, and to have more choice over what I do with my body and when.
These are my drivers beneath the surface and also serve as a filter to keep me true to what’s important to me in my physical wellbeing practice. If I practice a certain technique or movement that doesn’t fit with these intentions I remove it from my practice.
For example, this is why I don’t do heavy deadlifts any more, as at a deeper level they were taking away from the feeling of spaciousness in my spine.
So, I made a choice to focus on greater balance between strength and flexibility, instead of just being maximally strong.
Now we’ve covered the foundations of habits, let’s get into some useful ones to practice to get that body of yours more supple.
Part 2: 7 Daily Habits Flexible People Know (to safely get flexible fast)
By now you have the tools to help make your habits more sticky. In this section we’ll be covering what specific habits can be very helpful to get you more flexible, faster.
Highly flexible people like Shaolin monks, martial artists, dancers, etc are often this way not because of good luck, but because they’ve consistently adopted effective daily habits. They do things differently than most.
Sure there’s some people who are more naturally bendy than others, but in the seven habits mentioned below we’re talking about people (like me, and you) who flexibility doesn’t come naturally to.
1. They Have A Daily Routine
The majority of flexible people I’ve worked with and talked to (who weren’t flexible to begin with), have a regular daily routine they practice to develop full body flexibility.
They often practice at the start and end of the day, and even intermittently throughout the day in windows of opportunity (which you’ll learn more about in habit #4).
Having a consistent daily routine allows you to have a constant reference point as to where your body is at compared to yesterday. Also by stretching throughout the day you’ll begin to notice how your body changes as it warms up gradually from morning to night.
2. They Know Their Body
From practice of their daily routine and continually listening to their body, flexible people have a deep understanding and awareness of their body, from head to toe. They know how to use their body; when to contract and relax at the right time. Their brain and their body work together and share deep connections.
They develop this body awareness by practicing:
- An approach that opens their body from head to toe,
- Being mindful, by listening and feeling what their body is telling them,
- Having some fun with it.
The more you get to know your body (and mind) through progressively stretching and strengthening it, the more efficiently you can train it, and the better chance it has to function well.
3. They Take Advantage of Opportunities
The people I’ve noticed who have the best success getting flexible know that you don’t need to do a gruelling stretching workout for an hour to dramatically improve your flexibility.
They stretch their body whenever a moment pops up throughout the day.
– In between meetings,
– Waiting for appointments,
– At the traffic lights (perhaps don’t do this one for safety reasons).
You get the picture.
You’ll find when you begin to think this way that there’s a plethora of opportunities to move and stretch your body throughout the day. Even if you only found 3 small windows of 10 mins each, you’ve now just got in 30 mins of practice you normally would have missed. Imagine how that could accumulate over a week / month / year…
Flexible people take advantage of the small windows of opportunity, and that’s one of the reasons why they’re more flexible than most.
Now you can too!
4. They Leave Some in the Tank
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about successfully getting flexible is in the art of energy management.
In order to stretch often enough to create a big long term effect… you need to have the energy, or recovery ability to do it consistently, and gradually improve over time. Burn the candle too hot and you’ll end up creating yo-yo results.
Flexible people know this, so they don’t go all out every training session. Instead they do only enough to create a stimulus, then they allow some time for recharge, then repeat.
Leaving some energy in the tank each time you train your body helps you improve the way it performs, whilst maintaining the finite balance of your energy levels.
Remember consistency beats intensity in the long run, which bring us to the next habit.
5. They Practice Consistently
You’re probably getting the picture so far. Flexible people stretch their bodies, and they do it often. Simple to know, but practicing it, well that’s another thing thing entirely.
I love the saying, 90% of success in anything is showing up consistently. This could never be more true when developing your body, especially flexibility training.
To become like the flexible people, you must stretch your boundaries consistently, both physically and mentally.
6. They Feel More Than Think
This doesn’t necessarily mean flexible people are more emotional, it simply means they listen to the signals their body is telling them, instead of being so in their head about it.
I’ve seen many people debate about the best way to stretch, and what the latest ‘science’ tells us, but it’s only words and can lead to paralysis by analysis.
Flexible people simply practice developing this trait in their body daily, and feel what their body is telling them. The more you feel and listen, instead of just analysing all the time, the more you’ll understand.
7. They Breathe Deeply
Stretching your body is (on a deeper level) a powerful metaphor for transforming in the face of limitation.
Facing your limits during stretching can definitely be scary and present many challenges, which is why it’s so important to breathe deeply.
One common element supple people understand is how breathing effects your mind and body.
Breathing deeply in times of challenge helps you relax more, in times limitations are staring you down the barrel. Every deep breath during this time gives you the opportunity to literally re-program your brain, to feel safe and confident amidst these moments of uncertainty.
You’ve now got some powerful tools under your belt, to create powerful habits that stick. Once you build this skill you’ll more quickly be able to integrate the habits of flexible people into your life, without all the frustrating starting and stopping.
Here’s what we covered:
Part 1: How To Create Sticky Habits
- Are Your Habits Teflon Coated?
- The 5 Why’s You’re Not As Flexible As You May Like
- How To Find Your Deeper Why?
Part 2: The 7 Daily Habits Of Highly Flexible People (who aren’t naturally flexible)
- They Have A Daily Routine
- They Know Their Body
- They Take Advantage of Opportunities
- They Leave Some in the Tank
- They Practice Consistently
- They Feel More Than Think
- They Breathe Deeply
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Cover Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net