Eating for Flexibility

Although it is difficult to find a significant amount of scientific data supporting the idea that food choices affect flexibility, personal experiences seem to indicate that what we eat can effect the physical deepening of our asana practice.

Food can affect our bodies in so many different ways:  weight changes, skin condition, disease.  It can also affect our mind:  sleepy/energized, depressed/stimulated.  It seems reasonable to conclude that food could have an impact on flexibility.  What we put in to our body becomes who we are.

As with most dietary advice coming from our field, it appears that the first step is to eliminate meat from our diets.  Animal protein creates acidity in the body which appears to negatively impact flexibility.

However, a typical ovo-lacto vegetarian diet may not be enough to optimally prepare the body to become flexible.  Other factors include dairy products, which contain casein protein.  This protein is widely used by bodybuilders, powerlifters, and other athletes to increase muscle size and strength, but it is likely having a number of negative effects on the individual, one of which is decreasing flexibility.

Increasing the amount of alkaline forming foods has been shown to increase flexibility.  This can easily be accomplished by simply including more green food items in your daily diet.  Spinach, spirulina, seaweed, broccoli, etc. should all help you maintain a healthy pH balance in your blood.  It is also important to make sure you are getting your recommended amount of vitamins and minerals.

Adding a small amount of flax oil to your diet can also act as an anti-inflammatory and can lubricate your joints and counteract the toxic effects of cooked oil stored in our body.

While maintaining an almost completely vegan diet would likely be well-suited for flexibility, this may not be realistic or desirable in all situations.  Personal experimentation and gradually determining what works well for the individual is probably a good course of action.  But if you are having issues with your flexibility, why not experiment with some of the above suggestions and see if they work for you?