The many benefits of yoga asana practice are not sustainable in the absence of consistent practice. Straining into poses especially in the heated classes, does not transfer over into sustainable flexibility. Holding static stretches with unengaged muscles will not result in lasting flexibility. Active contraction of the muscle being stretched while holding a static pose will develop improved tone and tendon strength of that muscle as it lengthens. Through personal practice, I find that combining modalities is best for enhancing biomechanically, sustainable flexibility.
Practicing yoga in a heated environment allows for going into a pose more deeply: maintaining that depth of flexibility is another matter altogether. Consistency in practice is an important component. The passage of years coincides with the stiffening and shortening of muscles. Consequentially, bad posture and the inability to enjoy everyday activities with ease and grace ensues. Little things become harder to do. Some people accept the loss of flexibility as a natural part of living life; although, this does not have to be. Thus, the need for consistency in yoga practice.
Static stretching can provide, up to a point, benefits. These benefits stagnate or diminish past that, aforementioned, point. Static stretching can take the muscles into hyper-flexibility, for some people. Others may struggle to obtain improvement. Although flexibility may improve, this does not necessarily transfer over to improved mobility; i. e. the stretched muscle can become too lax. There is the view that having the muscle that is slightly tight is better than having the one that is more so lax . . . . that tipping point. This ‘tipping point’ is something about which the practitioner should be vigilante.
Consistent yoga practice can positively enhance one’s lifestyle, but that practice must be purposed and consistent. Regular yoga practice can improve tendon strength and muscle flexibility just as regularly conducted lifting sessions can improve overall muscular strength. Practicing yoga can also stabilize joints. These benefits occur from engaging / contracting the muscle that is being stretched. This is isometric contraction. Some poses, more than others, will be more amenable to isometric strengthening. Nonetheless, this type of muscular action should be utilized as best as is possible.
My personal practice has led to revelations about the progression of my own asana practice. I work a rotating schedule, have certain biomechanical challenges, and practice other activities (in addition to my yoga). Thus, my asana practice has required some reassessing. My body does not open as easily or as completely as it once did. Also, going to occasional heated classes and not interspersing those visits with ‘challenging’ personal practice sessions, was, to a degree, limiting my ability to extend into a pose. Doing personal yoga sessions with more purposefully intent. on a consistent basis, has provided for a recapturing of the capacity to explore poses more deeply.
To practice yoga is good, to practice yoga consistently is better still. A heated yoga studio facilitates increased muscle extensibility: however, because muscles do cool off, a consistent practice must be engaged in for maintaining the depth of a pose. Isometric muscular activation with antagonistic muscular contraction, when possible, is a key to incrementally deepening a pose (i. e. contracting the muscle that is being stretched). A personal practice is critical to the maintenance of overall gains in flexibility, mobility, and strength. Go forth. Practice consistently. Breath fully.