Not enough flexibility for Yoga

As the thread title suggests I really struggle with the Yoga sessions. While I really like the exercises I seem to do no progress at all when it comes to some exercises. Especially I don’t see any progress with cross legged sitting. When I started incorporating the SUF Yoga sessions about 2,5 years ago, I bought a Yoga cushion which was the highest one in the market (30 cm / 11"). Although I followed the SUF plans along with the Yoga sessions I am still stuck to that cushion. It seems I don’t gain any additional flexibility in the hip joints.
The same applies to limited flexibility in calfs and hamstrings. When doing half or full twists from the strength training sessions my legs are nowhere near a full stretch. The most ridiculous Yoga pose for me is the “head to knee” pose from the hamstring and calf flexibility session. I don’t get my head anywhere near my knee. I feel more like a turtle on it’s back trying to reach for a leaf of salad in the sky.
To make it short: what am I supposed to do, to gain any additional flexibility. Obviously to me it’s not enough to try again and again.
Any suggestions @abicarver ?


A couple of thoughts. It does sound as though a lot of tightness is coming from your hips. The first thing to say is that you continue to do the activities—sitting and cycling that tighten up your hips so to some extent, it is understandable that your flexibility does not change radically. If you did as much stretching as you did those exercises, you may find it was a different story! But there are definitely things that we can do. One thing that comes to mind are long-hold stretches. In yoga, we have a style of yoga in which we hold breaths for 10 breaths and up like gymnasts and ballerinas called yin. Check out this link to my favourite hip-opening poses: Login • Instagram Try doing these a couple of times a week for 10-15 breaths each (maybe in front of the TV) in between your regular yoga sessions that will be more for mobility and moving well than pure flexibility. Sitting cross-legged for 10-15 minutes in front of the TV will also help you to open up your hips. Thirdly, are you experiencing other benefits from the yoga? Reduced stiffness or pain or greater range of motion—if not, you may need to consider the role your breath is playing. Are you trying to breathe in and out through your nose and use your breath to extend your ranges of motion? Finally, there are some poses that are not going to be suitable for you right now and Head to Knee is one of them. Your pelvis is struggling to rotate forward in the seated position. I recommend you always substitute Reclining Hand to Big Toe with a strap when this pose comes up in the sessions. I hope that helps! Drop me an email at to let me know how you get on.


Thank you very much for your quick response! I really appreciate your insightful explanation and suggestions! I definitely will give it a try.:pray:


I’m glad it’s not just me! My flexibility of hips, calves and hamstrings is very limited too. I’m sure cycling doesn’t help, but I had much the same limitations as a child so I’m not sure if there’s much I can actually do about it. However I do still attempt to do the yoga as best I can to at least maintain what limited range of flexibility I have. But I do find it looking a bit ridiculous at times!


With due regard to @abicarver (just do whatever she says!), I feel like body type also comes into play at some point.

I’m right there with you, and frequently get frustrated at my (relative) lack of improvement in flexibility from the SUFF/SYSTM yoga sessions. I’ve kept coming back to the beginner sessions for the past year because I’ve felt like I’m not progressing.

However, in addition to being a cyclist - with all of the issues @abicarver noted - I also have a really short torso compared to leg length. Many of the bends and twists I’m nowhere even CLOSE to what’s being presented.

I took an unofficial measure and noted that I have all of two finger-widths between my lowest rib and the iliac crest on my hips (top point), maybe 1.5inch/4cm. My wife is built more like Abi - long and lean - and she has more like 4-5”/12cm!



This absolutely needs an entire paragraph to itself.

It would be odd to think, in my opinion, that one could rectify 3 hours of cycling with one 15 minute yoga session.

@Holger1980 can you compare your exercise hours to your yoga hours? You can do it privately rather than post it here, of course.

My experience was that doing hip exercises before riding then hamstring and calf exercises afterwards helped me considerably.

Do you do any yoga beforehand ?

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And do reach out for help. It’s less intuitive than it feels like it should be.


It’s an interesting point and I must admit it wasn’t obvious even to me at first that we can’t just do the undoing if we are still doing the doing! It’s like taking 2 steps forwards and 1 step back, which results in very slow progress.

In my experience, front-loading the yoga can really help. Many people have to do multiple short sessions a day in the beginning and then can drop down to maintenance level as you have been able to do after fine-tuning your own program.

I do something similar to you before running and cycling—hip mobility beforehand and calf and hamstring stretching after. I look forward to the time for newbies when it actually starts to feel really good!


You’re absolutely right. We all have such different bodies and proportions—some more suitable for basketball and others for swimming or lifting heavy weights. My advice is to listen out for the goal of the pose and try to achieve that objective with your unique body—to stretch the calves for example or improve mobility in the shoulder. It doesn’t matter how a pose looks as long as it is safe and getting the job done!


My flexibility was rubbish. I feel your pain with the poses you described. However, earlier this year I committed to trying to improve my time trialling, and as part of that needed to increase core strength and flexibility. For a couple of months I alternated between core and flexibility yoga routines. I felt I was improving, but my perception was that it wasn’t by much. It wasn’t until my wife walked in when I was mid head to knee pose and said “wow, that’s impressive” that I realised how far I’d come.

Keep at it, make some stretching a daily routine and you’ll get there.


I am another one who struggles with the poses as I am not flexible. However, stick with it. Thanks to @abicarver yoga videos I have seen flexibility improvements and most importantly a reduction in my hip and low back issues.

Two tips I will share from my journey

  1. Use yoga blocks. If I cannot reach the floor I just put a block down and bend to that. I find it helps me relax into the stretches.
  2. Try the recovery videos. I have found them a bit more gentile and really help me stretch out where I have issues.

So many good insights in this thread, what great content to have on these forums.

I dream of one day being able to hold downward dog and having my foot flat to the ground. There’s something to be said for using a yoga goal for your Mt Sufferlandria (Big Mountain goal).


Warm up before your yoga sessions.

If that doesn’t work, book a few sessions with a certified personal trainer and tell them you want to work on flexibility. I know a bunch of ways to increase flexibility, but I’m not a trained professional and I don’t know your body or health history. Any other advice I could give you might also lead you toward injury.

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I dream of being able to do downward dog in such a manner that it actually resembles what’s on screen…:grimacing:

(And +❤️ for shaggy cow)


I would also suggest adding in a bit of dynamic stretching. For example, stretching kicks. Kick gently straight out in front of you to about knee height and then gradually over 15-20 repetitions try to kick a little higher. Don’t kick so high as to hurt yourself, but enough to feel a bit of a stretch. You can kick out to the side or backwards. Be careful going to the side because if you go too high or too hard, you can wrench your knee. I’ve done martial arts so long I automatically rotate my base foot away from the direction of the swing to protect the knee, but it’s not a natural movement. I like to do these as a warm up before the more static stretching of the yoga poses.

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Hi! Just few words to share my experience with yoga sessions included with my planned training (for big sustained climbs and hilly GranFondos). I train about 12 hours each weeks outside but more and more inside due to my work. Since I included mandatory yoga sessions after my indoor training, I experience an improved flexibility at a point that Hips and Hamstrings sessions become “easy” and the pigeon pose is a so relieving stretch… then we need to be patient and stay mindful, improvement of flexibility is a reality! :innocent:


Just some and data, I can vouch that the long, relaxed static stretching as abi suggested does work, it just takes a while. I still struggle with some poses but even things like sitting on the ground, I had trouble being fully upright, I couldn’t raise my arms over my head without elbows coming absurdly forward, now I can.

The other thing that helped was core strength. I sometimes struggled to relax the stretching muscles because I was simultaneously working hard to hold a position, causing all muscles to tense. Bottom line, a few rounds of suf strength and that’s no longer the case.


Great tips. Blocks are inexpensive and can make all the difference.


This is so great to hear! I love that point when the sessions transition from feeling uncomfortable to feeling really good!

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Those are some impressive developments in your posture and flexibility. Thank you for sticking with it!