Tag Archives: flexibility

Progress in yoga – thoughts & photos

I love Instagram. It’s kind of (obviously) my favorite social media platform. I took to it right away, but I especially love it because it’s the reason I started recording and photographing some of my yoga practice. Posting yoga pictures has opened up a whole new way for me to asses my practice and visually see my progress.

“Today” was in February

Before I go on, I want to clarify one thing. There’s really no such thing as progress in yoga, at least in the traditional sense of the word. That’s not what it’s about. Yoga is all about the internal journey and the physical practice is a means to get in touch with yourself while reaping a host of physical benefits as well. You benefit physically and mentally from a forward bend whether you’re kissing your knees or can’t reach the floor.

That said, I think there are still two major benefits to charting progress in the physical asanas (postures) to see improvements in strength and flexibility. First, many of the more advanced postures aren’t accessible if you have tight hips, hamstrings, shoulders, etc. If the posture is completely inaccessible, you can’t reap the benefits.

Second, it’s motivating! In my experience, increases in flexibility come much more slowly than increases in strength or cardiovascular fitness (although that may just be my body). The change is so slow that it feels like standing still, and as a result, it’s very easy to get discouraged. I practiced for years and years without pushing myself to go deeper because when I tried to “improve” the change was so slow I assumed I wasn’t capable and decided to stick to a more basic practice (note: there is nothing wrong with that if it’s what YOU want, I accepted that as my only option when it wasn’t).

Since I allowed yoga to take over my Instagram in December, I’ve accumulated an entire library of photos that allow me to see my flexibility improving. I share these on IG from time to time, but I haven’t really shared them here. I’m hoping that by doing so I’ll inspire any yogis or would-be yogis that have been feeling a little discouraged. 🙂


February to May. The difference in malasana is subtle, but more open hips means my booty drops a bit lower and my back is straighter, I also feel much more stable in the pose.

Most of my progress pictures are backbends. That’s because my back was essentially a steel rod. It didn’t do bending (in any direction). I truly thought this would never and could never change, but slowly but surely, it is.

bow pose

Bow pose

king dancer

Dancer pose: “Today” was late March

dancer pose

Standing bow pose: December to March

upward facing dogUp-dog: January to May

wheel pose bent legs

Wheel pose: December (I think) to April

Wheel pose straight legs

Wheel pose with straight legs: January to May

king pigeon and standing backbend

Kin pigeon (top row): December, January, May
Standing backbend (bottom row): November to May

I always feel like the last one, standing backbend, is the best example of how far I’ve come with backbends. In the first picture it doesn’t even look like I’m trying to bend, but I really am!

When I first started seeing yoga progress photos, there was a part of me that still doubted that my flexibility could really change, but this is the proof! If you’re struggling with flexibility, trust me, if I can improve, anyone can!

Questions: Do you track progress in any way (running, lifting, bending, etc?) Are you naturally flexible? (If so, I’m jealous) Thoughts on yoga “progress”?

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