Be flexible – start with your mind
Stretching has so many benefits, and they are not all physical. If you build your mobility routine and incorporate flexibility exercises in your daily life, you will see that this reflects on your mind too.
And the same is true for the opposite. If you have a more flexible mind, you’ll notice that you’ll give yourself permission to stretch more, to meet your edge. Let’s see how a flexible mindset is correlated to a flexible body and vice versa.
The power of flexible thinking
Life does not always go as planned; we all know that. Being flexible with your thinking is a necessary skill to deal with whatever life throws at you. Being flexible allows you to not be so driven by plans. A flexible mindset can help us adjust more easily to new circumstances and challenges. In psychology, this concept is called cognitive flexibility. Another word to refer to it is resilience. Once we are resilient, we are more adaptable. We come back from setbacks more quickly; we appreciate the little things without getting caught up in how things did not go as planned. Because things rarely go as planned, and a flexible mind is the best tool to react – and not over-react – to the inevitable changes and new situations that arise all the time.
But how do you build a flexible mind?
How to improve your cognitive flexibility
Research showed that at the core of mental flexibility is serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical messenger in the brain. Therefore, any activity or lifestyle change that can increase serotonin is welcomed in your journey towards a more flexible mind. For example, healthy and balanced nutrition is a good first step. Eating food like chicken, turkey, chickpeas, nuts, and sweet potato can increase serotonin levels, training your brain to be more flexible. A cool thing about mental flexibility is that it is closely linked to your physical flexibility. Exercising, and specifically stretching, can improve not only your body flexibility but also your mind’s one.
Physical benefits of stretching
Stretching gives you energy and allows you to exercise better the next time you hit a workout. Due to increased flexibility and improved range of motion, you become less prone to injuries. Moreover, stretching works wonder for your posture by reversing the damages we might do to our body by sitting all day.
Mental benefits of stretching
On top of the well-known physical benefits of stretching, the mental benefits of stretching are also many. Stretching helps stabilize your mood, makes you more relaxed, and aids in stress relief. In addition, when you exercise, your brain releases serotonin which stimulates flexibility. It’s a win-win situation!
A flexible mindset leads to a flexible body – and vice versa
Flexibility is the key to greater resilience. Either mentally and physically. In the same way that having improved flexibility prevents injuries, similarly, having a more flexible mind makes it easier to respond to situations and challenges. Interestingly, the two things are greatly connected. Every time you stretch, the muscles send a signal to the brain. It’s like telling it, “we can do it.” It’s the muscles telling your mind that you are capable of being flexible. This creates a loop that allows us to move deeper and increase the range of motion even further. Once the brain is convinced that you can indeed do it, that you can be flexible, everything will be easier. Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility and range of motion. However, forget who says that yoga is only for flexible people. You need mental flexibility to become physically flexible. You need to be able to challenge yourself. And yoga allows you to focus on your inner feelings and thoughts patterns. It’s a journey. At the end of the journey, there is a wholeness of your body and mind, in harmony—both flexible.
How breathwork and meditation can improve your flexibility
Breathwork and meditation are also great ways to improve your mental flexibility and learn how to listen more to yourself. To let go of thought patterns that do not serve you and that might hinder your mind’s capacity to adapt. Breathwork and meditation can refine your awareness, turning your focus on what really matters. Through breathwork, you will experience a synergy between your mind and your body. This will inevitably help you to feel comfortable with whatever is happening in your life. Ready to tackle the challenges because you know how to listen to your body and respond accordingly. You also know that you always have an anchor. And that anchor is your breath. Once you learn how to do it, you have everything you need. Working with your breath is a tool that you can always bring with you, wherever and however you might be. The greater self-awareness that you will gain from breathwork will result in greater physical flexibility because, once again, you will be able to listen to your body’s needs. You will want to see what’s next, to keep improving your range of motion. In addition, breathing more consciously will bring more oxygen to your muscles and improve your performance.
Body and mind – It is all a loop
What is clear is that it is all a loop. The more mentally flexible you are, the more physically flexible you can become. On the other hand, the more physically flexible you are, the more your brain is “trained on flexibility.” You should practice yoga, meditation, and breathwork to improve your physical flexibility, but you will only get the most benefits if you approach them with a flexible mind.
I would be honored to guide you on your journey to improve your mental flexibility through yoga, meditation, and breathwork. If you are looking for a private yoga teacher on the French Riviera and Monaco area, contact me for a first consultation, and we can develop a personalized plan.