Strength, Flexibility and Fitness Without Tension, Stretching or Heart Racing

In this video blog Simon Borg-Olivier demonstrates how to simply develop strength without feeling tension, flexibility without feeling painful stretching, and circulation of blood without needing to increase your heart rate. He simply explains the benefits of lengthening and relaxing muscles by moving actively into postures in a way that can help you improve your practice of yoga, exercise, dance and martial arts.

The simplest and most effective way of getting physical yoga (union) in the body is to circulate blood through your blood vessels. Healthy and fit people with good circulation don’t feel like they are stretching or tensing when they move, and they hardly increase their heart beat when doing moderate exercise. Therefore, one can argue that a good way to improve circulation is to do it in such a way that it does not feel like you are stretching, tensing or needing to make your heart beat faster. The most effective way of doing this is by applying the principle of moving actively into a posture using your own muscles, and not relying on external forces.

Moving actively into a position is very effective because it inhibits the ‘stretch’ reflex, and invokes the reciprocal reflex. The ‘stretch’ reflex effectively causes any muscle that is lengthened by an external force such as gravity, momentum or one limb pulling another part of the body to become tense. The reciprocal reflex effectively causes a muscle to become relaxed if the muscle that is opposite to it has become active. The simplest way to do this is by moving actively into a position using your own muscles. Any muscle that is lengthened and has become tense due to the ‘stretch’ reflex tends to feel like a stretch, whereas if that muscle is lengthened and also relaxed via the reciprocal reflex it does not feel like a stretch, yet you become just as flexible.

In addition, a muscle that is shortened and active will tend to ‘push’ blood away from it, while a muscle that is lengthened and relaxed will tend to ‘pull’ blood towards it. This causes an effective increase in blood circulation without having to increase heart beat.

This is essentially the primary method of movement into postures that is employed in traditional hatha yoga. For example a traditional natural yogi can fold their legs into the ‘lotus posture’ (padmasana) without using the hands to help.

The benefits of moving actively into a posture are:
*** developing strength without feeling tense
*** developing flexibility without feeling stretch
*** improving blood flow without needing to make the heart beat faster

This material in this video is presented in more detail in the live courses taught by physiotherapists and Directors of Yoga Synergy, Simon Borg-Olivier and Bianca Machliss, throughout the world ( as well as part of the online courses Yoga Synergy ( and

Thank you to Chris Johns for filming and editing this video.

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