At age 17, I could not do a split. I worked HARD for YEARS to get a split, to no avail. Those were years of pain and disappointment. Nothing seemed to work.
In my 17th summer, I went to New York City on a ballet scholarship. My mother went with me. She discovered a Yoga Studio within walking distance from our rooms and encouraged me to take a class with her.
I tried a yoga class, It was very peaceful and relaxing. The Yoga teachers used stretching positions. But instead of pushing and working at stretching, they relaxed into the positions. They used breathing and mental imagery to help with relaxation.
I was a strong dancer and a hard-working student. It was very hard for me to relax.
I practiced yoga exercises every morning and night. Slowly my body released its tension. Within weeks I could do a split! Eventually, using relaxation techniques, I achieved a straddle (side split) and perfect turn-out!
To this day, I do Yoga exercises to stay relaxed and flexible.
Moral of the story: Don’t “try” to strertch. Don’t “work hard” at stretching. Don’t “push”. Just ease into your stretch. Relax your breathing. Let the stretch take you where it will. If you feel your mind racing or your body tightening up, come out of your stretch. Go back to it later. Focus not on stretching, but on relaxing.
P.S. If you have any tips or tricks for stretching, share them with us by leaving a comment. Thanks!