I have noticed that amongst my students there are some people who are naturally flexible but lack strength and on the other end of the spectrum, there are people who are strong but really inflexible. It is important to practice yoga with these things in mind. Notice your yoga strengths and weakness and practice with compassion.
Flexible but no strength
If you are really flexible, you need to focus on strength, making sure that you are not sitting into your joints and potentially damaging them. When I first started yoga, I would happily just sit into my hip joints when doing crescent lunge (anjaneyasana) because I was pretty flexible. By the time I realised that this was damaging my hip flexors, it was a little late. Now I have a very unpleasant hip flexor injury.
So it is important to really use your muscles and protect your joints during your practice especially if you have hyperflexive joints (ligamentous laxity). This is when your joints tend to over-extend. In this case, you need to always micro- bend your joints to protect them from injury during your yoga practice.
Strong but inflexible
If you are strong, but struggle with flexibility, it is important for you to really focus on softening down into postures as you exhale. Relax into postures like lunges and forward bends as much as possible. With every inhale feel your body lengthening and with every exhale relax or soften down into the posture. Breath into the tightness.
Keep practicing with love and compassion for your own body. And get to know your body.
By practicing yogi and Longevity contributor Helen Spiropoulos