Yoga Medicine teacher Rachel Land shares the story behind the Yoga Journal flexibility challenge, why it isn’t all about stretching, and why she doesn’t “stretch” anymore.

“Why I’ve Stopped Stretching”

Senior Yoga Medicine teacher Rachel Land created our Yoga for Flexibility Challenge but explains why it’s not all about “stretching.”

Like many yoga teachers, I’ve been reasonably flexible my whole life. Not flexible in the “tuck both feet behind the head” sense, but I’ve always had to work harder on creating strength and stability than on increasing my range of motion. In fact, I find that deep static stretches at my end range can actually create joint stiffness, even pain, the next day.

For that reason, I don’t really “stretch” anymore. Which doesn’t mean that I purely work strength. Instead, the gentler side of my practice focuses, not on flexibility for its own sake, but on these three aims…

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Rachel Land

Rachel Land

Rachel found yoga as a teenager. It challenged her body, then calmed and clarified her mind. Over the next 20 years, through a Business Degree, a stint in corporate marketing, and international travels, it became a touchstone that she returned to repeatedly until it sparked the idea of something more. In 2011 Rachel finally became a Yoga Alliance registered teacher. Since then she has completed courses in Anatomy & Physiology, Nutrition, Sports Training & Development, Mentoring and Yin Yoga, and completed a 500-hour yoga teacher training with Tiffany Cruikshank and Yoga Medicine.