This week's practice clearly demonstrated that I've been sick and my regular practice has been blunted. Flexibility in most of my joints was lacking (even with pregnancy), which just shows how being away from a yoga practice can actually impact flexibility gains and maintenance.
It is not surprising as basic fitness gains such as cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength in an exercise program can decline with even two weeks of no stimulus (read: bed rest). Not surprising that I felt this way this week.
What does the research say about yoga detraining?
Well, I found no definitive information other than this brief response on Yoga Journal's website addressing shoulder inflexibility in practice after many years away from practice.
So, I head into the flexibility research instead and find some interesting conclusions.
In one hamstring flexibility study, researchers noted that after four weeks of nonstretching, study participants lost the knee range of motion that they gained from stretching in the first six weeks of the study. They conclude that the benefits of stretching will be lost relatively quickly if stretching is not continued. But hesitate to give an exact duration of time.
Even at an acute or one time session, research notes that flexibility gains can be lost after about 90 minutes for most muscle groups. It makes sense as our bodies continue with the physical demands of day to day life, which can cause muscles to tighten once again.
Nonetheless, it seems that reduced flexibility and dare I say limited yoga practice can have some short and long term implications to how well your muscles will stretch.
An interesting point to take as a future teacher and a current student. It reinforces the importance of taking each session as it comes. The body can vary from day to day, practice to practice. The key here is to listen and practice to the best ability for that day.
Honoring my body's flexibility and health,
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.