My twelve year old son has taken to calling me Bendy Wendy. He thinks this is the most hilarious joke ever and rolls around laughing whenever he pulls it out. I wish! The truth is that Stiff Cliff or Tight Dwight are more appropriate, if not gender confused. Anywho when referring to me, bendy is doesn't really describe my body.
When I first decided to fully commit to being a yogi, I embarked on a vegetarian adventure. My diet changed quite dramatically and I noticed some interesting developments physically (before I ended up anaemic and cranky/tired/crazy). I lost weight (3kg in 3 weeks) even though I was eating more and consuming a lot more (good) fats. I ate a lot of salads with oil dressings and falafel fried in coconut oil. It seemed to satiate my hunger when I ate more high fat foods.
The other thing that I noticed was the fact that I seemed to be much more flexible. At first I thought this was due to the fact that I was practicing more, that seemed reasonable. When began to revert back to my old ways however, my bendiness went out with the veggie burgers. So I began to wonder why?
I like whole food. I don't eat a lot of processed food but after doing some research, it turns out I have some bad habits. It's worth mentioning that the same things that cause us to be less flexible also cause us to age. I read a whole heap of ayurvedic advice and research on muscle development as we age and this was my list of evil deeds:
* I don't drink enough water. I suspect I may have been a camel in a past life? I can survive on fog alone.
* I eat too much salt. Apparently this is due to not drinking enough water, this creates an imbalance and my body says "bring on the salty snacks" as a way of retaining the tiny amounts of water that I consume.
* I eat too much bread. This creates slow moving bulk in the gut which interferes with uddiyana bandha or in simple terms, you can't bend over a bloated belly. Makes sense.
*My diet is fairly low fat. I come from a long line of women dedicated to deprivation. I am not a 'dieter' myself but I do think it's been written into my genetic code to run screaming away from fat.
So, what's the answer to increasing flexibility and touching your toes at ninety??
Well to begin with... Yoga. Hmmm, you saw that one coming didn't you. Use it or lose it people.
Water dehydration leads to tight muscles and stiff tendons which results in decreasing our range of movement.
Eat dieting reduces our sarcomeres (which is a unit measurement of muscle tissue). Lose calories, lose sarcomeres, lose suppleness and lose your downward dog people!
What gives you gas also gives you guns. Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, garlic. Sulphur rich veggies make your muscles happy. Sulphur is need to make glucosamine sulphate which is necessary for connective tissue formation. Eat your stinky veggies.
Raw cacao. Connective tissue is what allows muscle to lengthen. In order to build this connective tissue, you need copper, manganese and zinc, all of which can be found in raw cacao. It is also proof that god exists because it just so happens to taste like chocolate!
Vitamin c Vitamin c is also necessary for long muscles so include capsicum, citrus and kiwi fruit.
Ghee Ayurveda really loves to sing the praises of this clarified butter. They claim it will increase muscle flexibility because it lubricates both the joints and connective tissue. It also helps with digestion and reduces inflammation. I must say I have recently become a lover of ghee because it tastes like butter but it's good for you. Omigod whats next? Healthy brie? Are the french onto this??
So with all this in mind I have decided to focus on these tips and see if I can finally achieve a long and low seated forward bend. For the next two weeks I am going to drink more water and include these dietary tweaks and see if it makes a difference.