There are three methods of stretching accessed in yoga: ballastic stretching, passive stretching, and facilitated stretching.
- Ballistic stretching is similar to the feeling you get after your first few rounds of sun salutations or 1/2 salutations in yoga class. This is when you are actively moving to reset your muscles to their length they were in your previous practice. Essentially, this is why flow classes begin with varying types of salutations.
- Passive stretching is when you hold a pose for a longer period of time, allowing the muscles to lengthen. This is what yin yoga and restorative yoga practices center around. Long, passive holds allow fascia or connective tissues to stretch as well.
- The third method, facilitated stretching involves contracting the muscles you want to stretch. Due to this, the spinal cord tells the muscle it can now relax and you can deepen your stretch.
Yesterday, I received my latest copy of Yoga International, formerly Yoga Plus. There was an awesome article about stretching called Ready, Set, Stretch! (click title to access the article) This article describes facilitated stretching and gives several pictures and examples you can practice easily at home. The article is based on Anusara Yoga and its principles of alignment which truly go back to facilitated stretching. I hope you can take the time to read the article and use it in your next yoga practice. It was a wonderful reminder to me that I was able to readily include in my morning yoga practice.