The traditional apply of yoga might have been created to reinforce religious consciousness and assist Indian yogis attain enlightenment. However one of the important modern-day advantages is the elevated flexibility that practising these poses brings.
What’s extra, in our extremely sedentary way of life the place we spend massive chunks of time sitting at a desk, behind the wheel, or in entrance of the TV, by no means has enhancing flexibility been extra very important.
Whether or not you’re battling tight hamstrings or hips or stress in your again or shoulders, yoga will provide help to turn out to be extra supple and cellular. This, in flip, will massively enhance your well being, high quality of life, and even longevity.
Let’s discover the 20 greatest yoga stretches for flexibility, together with the backbone, hips, legs, and shoulders. And you should definitely learn to the tip as I’ll reveal my high suggestions for growing flexibility quick with yoga.
Flexibility Poses For The Backbone
Cat Cow Pose
The cat-cow pose is a well-liked warm-up posture in any yoga apply because it stretches the again, opens the chest and torso, and improves spinal mobility. This makes it an ideal preparatory for deeper again and ahead bend stretches.
To do cat-cow, begin in a tabletop place together with your wrists underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Discover a impartial backbone, then arch the again and press the chest ahead right into a cow pose as you inhale. As you exhale, around the backbone and tuck the chin to the chest in a cat pose.
Somewhat than holding these stretches, alternate between them for a minimum of 5 rounds. Transfer together with your breath, inhaling as you arch the again and exhaling as you spherical it.
Little one’s Pose
Little one’s pose is an underrated asana. It’s typically practiced as a resting or cool-down pose however is great for enhancing flexibility within the again and getting ready for extra superior poses. Furthermore, doing the vast knee variation provides a delicate stretch to the hip flexors.
Sit in your heels together with your knees collectively. Fold over your thighs, releasing your arms out in entrance of you. Relaxation the brow on the bottom or a block. For an lively, deeper stretch within the backbone, stroll your fingers as far ahead as doable whereas urgent your hips again to your heels.
The reclined backbend Bridge pose stretches the backbone, chest, torso, and neck whereas strengthening the again muscle mass and the glutes. As well as, it considerably helps to enhance spinal mobility, getting ready for extra superior poses just like the wheel.
From a reclined place with the knees bent, stroll your toes in direction of your hips and place them flat on the ground. Test you can attain your heels together with your fingertips.
Maintaining the thighs collectively, inhale to push your toes into the bottom and raise the hips. Subsequent, have interaction your glutes and thighs to maintain the hips lifted as you clasp your palms behind your again and draw the shoulder blades collectively.
Press the shoulders and higher arms into the bottom as you raise the hips and maintain for a minimum of 5 breaths.
The plow pose is an inversion typically included within the shoulder stand sequence. Nevertheless, this posture can be among the finest yoga poses for flexibility, serving to to create a extra supple backbone.
The deep ahead bend place improves muscle and joint mobility within the again and backbone and relieves tightness and stress within the shoulders and again. Nevertheless, word that as it is a deep stretch, this pose must be carried out towards the tip of the apply when the again is heat.
Lay in your again and bend your knees together with your toes off the bottom. Press your palms into the mat to raise the hips and lengthen the legs overhead. Convey your palms to your decrease again and attempt to straighten the legs, bringing the toes to the ground behind you.
Standing Ahead Bend
Standing ahead bend is a typical posture discovered within the solar salutations and is commonly practiced between standing sequences. Practising this pose will assist create a powerful, versatile backbone and cut back stress or ache within the decrease again. It additionally stretches the legs and hips and feels rejuvenating for your entire physique.
From a standing place with the toes hip distance aside, fold ahead from the waist, reducing your head to the bottom and your torso in direction of the thighs. Convey your palms to the ground or a block and loosen up the top and neck.
For a deeper spinal stretch, seize your huge toes together with your peace fingers and bend the elbows to the facet. Hold the legs straight as you attempt to pull your torso and chest nearer to your legs.
Flexibility Poses For The Hips
The pigeon pose targets the outer hip muscle mass, together with the psoas and the piriformis. These muscle mass are generally tight attributable to lengthy durations of sitting; thus, it is a very important stretch for individuals who sit down throughout their job.
From a tabletop place, draw your proper knee forwards, inserting it by your proper wrist. Subsequent, sink your hips and straighten your backbone (place a folded blanket beneath the correct hip if wanted). Keep upright or fold your torso ahead, coming down onto your forearms.
Lizard pose stretches the internal hip flexors and groin muscle mass. When mixed with the pigeon, these two asanas enhance the total vary of movement within the hip area. Lizard additionally stretches the hamstrings and quadriceps and works the again extensors and decrease again muscle mass.
Step your left foot ahead from a tabletop place, inserting it exterior the left arm. Hug the knee to the left shoulder and both keep in your palms with the arms straight or bend the elbows to launch the forearms to the ground or a block.
The frog pose is one other fab stretch for the internal hips, internal thighs, and groin, growing the vary of movement in tight hips. It additionally stretches the again muscle mass, serving to to alleviate ache there.
Begin by sitting in your heels and open your knees vast. Subsequent, bend ahead, place your palms on the bottom, and raise your hips. Then, convey your toes out vast (consistent with your knees), and decrease your forearms to the ground, retaining your hips stacked over your knees.
Discover the way it feels within the hips, and if you happen to can go deeper, widen the knees and toes additional.
Blissful Child Pose
The completely happy child pose is without doubt one of the most accessible yoga poses for flexibility within the hip area. It stretches the internal hip flexors, groin, and thighs and is soothing for the again.
Laying down, bend your knees and hug them to your chest. Seize the surface of each toes or the large toes, then open the knees vast (retaining them bent) and switch the soles as much as the ceiling. Draw your knees right down to your shoulders for a deeper stretch.
Splits pose (Hanumanasana) is without doubt one of the greatest however most difficult yoga poses for flexibility within the decrease physique. Make sure you solely try this pose after doing many warm-up asanas that concentrate on the internal and outer hips and the quads and hamstrings (like these listed above).
Because the splits pose isn’t accessible for many individuals, I like to recommend first coming into the half splits pose. Then, if you happen to can go additional, you may try and enter into the total variation.
Step your left foot ahead in between your palms from a tabletop place. Press your hips again to straighten the left leg and fold your torso over the thigh.
To go deeper:
- Stroll your left foot additional ahead whereas extending your proper left behind you.
- Sink your hips as little as doable, then place a prop beneath to assist.
- Sit upright together with your palms on both facet.
- Keep in mind to strive it on the alternative facet too!
Flexibility Poses For The Legs
Downward Going through Canine
Though the downward-facing canine stretches your entire physique and targets all the key muscle teams, it’s notably useful for folks with tight hamstrings or calves. Thus, doing this pose often will assist to enhance flexibility within the legs whereas concurrently strengthening the decrease physique.
From a tabletop place, tuck your toes and press your palms firmly into the mat with fingers unfold. Have interaction your core muscle mass to raise your knees, then gently push your hips again as you straighten your legs.
When you have tight hamstrings, preserve a slight knee bend, and don’t fear about urgent the toes flat on the ground. As you develop extra flexibility, this can turn out to be simpler.
As you maintain the downward-facing canine, straighten the arms and press the chest to the thighs whereas retaining the hips up.
The pyramid pose offers a deep stretch to the hamstrings but additionally improves spinal and hip flexibility.
From a standing place, step your proper leg again and switch the toes out to 45 levels. Guarantee your hips are going through forwards, and preserve the left knee straight. Subsequent, convey your palms to your hips and press firmly by the heel of the correct foot.
On an exhale, tilt out of your hips to fold over your entrance leg. Launch your palms to the ground or two blocks on both facet of the entrance foot. Chill out your head and neck; with every breath, attempt to transfer your chest nearer to the leg.
For an extra stretch to the calf and Achilles, raise your entrance toes and flex them in direction of you. After 5 to 10 breaths, launch and repeat on the correct leg.
Head To Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)
The pinnacle-to-knee pose is a seated ahead fold the place one leg is straight and the opposite is bent with the knee out to the facet. This posture stretches the hamstring and calf of the prolonged leg whereas opening the opposite hip.
From a seated place with the legs prolonged, bend your left knee and place the foot on the internal proper thigh. Permit the knee to drop out to the facet. Sit up tall, and as you inhale, attain your arms overhead. As you exhale, tilt ahead from the hips and slowly decrease down, retaining the arms consistent with the ears.
Launch the palms to your proper foot or leg and loosen up your head. In the event you can attain the foot, gently pull your chest in direction of it to deepen the hamstring stretch additional.
The triangle pose is one other multi-beneficial standing asana. It strengthens and elongates the hamstrings and groin whereas opening the shoulders and chest and stretching the hips muscle mass. It additionally offers a fairly intense facet stretch.
Step the correct foot again from standing and switch it out to 90 levels, opening the hips to the facet. Convey your arms out to shoulder peak, and attain your left arm ahead on an inhale like somebody is pulling in your hand.
Decrease the left hand to the left ankle, calf, or a yoga block and attain the correct arm to the sky. Draw the highest shoulder again to open the chest and search for.
Reclined Huge Toe Pose
Reclined huge toe pose is one in every of my favourite stretches and my go-to asana after a long term! It stretches your entire again of the legs together with the internal thighs and lumber backbone.
Laying in your again, bend your left knee in direction of you, clasping your palms across the again of the thigh. Straighten the leg, then gently draw the thigh in direction of you to increase it to 90 levels.
For these with extra leg flexibility, stroll your palms as much as the again of the calf or ankle and draw the leg nearer to you. Nevertheless, preserve your again and shoulders on the bottom as you accomplish that.
Flexibility Poses For The Higher Physique
The pet pose (also referred to as the heart-melting pose) opens up your entire higher physique, together with the shoulders, higher again, and arms. It additionally stretches the torso and belly muscle mass and creates a delicate backbend, easing stress within the lumbar backbone.
From a tabletop place, stroll your hand forwards and sink your chest in direction of the mat. Bend your elbows to return onto your forearms and relaxation the brow on the bottom or on a folded blanket.
Guarantee your hips keep stacked over your knees, and take deep breaths right here, making an attempt to decrease your chest somewhat bit additional with every exhale. Choice to convey your palms to the prayer place over the again of your head for a deeper shoulder opening.
Thread The Needle Pose
The “thread the needle” is a good pose for opening and stretching the shoulders, easing tightness and muscle stress whereas enhancing mobility within the thoracic backbone.
From the tabletop place, lengthen your proper arm up on an inhale. As you exhale, thread it underneath your left arm, reducing the correct shoulder and facet of the top to the bottom (gaze to the left). Then, both stroll your left-hand forwards to increase the arm or wrap it behind your again for a deeper stretch.
Cow Face Pose
The cow face pose offers a deep stretch to the chest, shoulders, and arms, together with the triceps and latissimus dorsi. When practiced with the legs crossed, it additionally stretches the hips, glutes, and outer thighs.
From a snug seated place, bend the correct knee and place it above the left. Hold the underside leg prolonged or bend the knee, so each toes are near the alternative hip.
Subsequent, attain your proper arm overhead and bend the elbow, bringing the fingers to the center of the higher again. Then bend the left elbow, bringing the hand to the center again, and attempt to clasp your palms. If that is too troublesome, use a yoga strap to clasp as an alternative.
Maintaining your backbone straight, level your proper elbow as much as the sky, and breathe deeply. After 5 or so breaths, swap legs and alter the arm grip.
Bow pose creates a deep opening for the chest and shoulders whereas enhancing spinal mobility and stretching the quads.
From a inclined place, bend each knees and seize your ankles. As you inhale, draw your shoulders again and press your hip bones into the mat to raise your chest and shoulders off the bottom. Then kick your toes into your palms to raise the thighs and discover extra peak and opening within the higher physique.
Wheel pose is without doubt one of the most superior backbends in yoga, requiring good spinal mobility and open shoulders. Thus, this heart-opening yoga pose is difficult when you’ve got tight shoulders, so you should definitely solely try it after the earlier asanas and do Bridge as a prep pose.
Bend your knees and convey your toes to your hips in a reclined place. Subsequent, bend the elbows and place your palms subsequent to your ears with the fingertips going through your shoulders.
Have interaction the core as you press into your toes, raise the hips, and lengthen the arms. As your head comes off the bottom, loosen up your neck and push your chest behind you.
Ideas For Bettering Flexibility In Yoga
Common yoga apply is the important thing to enhancing flexibility. In the event you solely apply yoga as soon as per week, it will likely be some time earlier than you see any progress.
Practising yoga daily is ok; actually, that is perfect for enhancing flexibility. Nevertheless, in case your schedule doesn’t enable for every day apply, purpose for a minimum of 3 periods per week. They don’t have to be hour-long yoga courses; a 20-30 minute apply is adequate.
I additionally suggest alternating between three or so yoga routines for flexibility so that you’re not at all times doing the identical postures. You possibly can embody totally different yoga poses for all physique elements in every session. Or, if you happen to want, focus one session on stretching the again, one on the hips and legs, and the opposite on the higher physique.
In the event you want extra inspiration in your yoga routines, you’ll find tons of yoga for flexibility movies on Youtube. You possibly can search primarily based on the size of apply you favor or the world of the physique you need to give attention to. For instance, this Yoga For Hips & Decrease Again Launch sequence from Yoga By Adriene is right when you’ve got tight hips or again ache.
Apart from practising often, I like to recommend utilizing props. Yoga straps just like the Lululemon No Limits Strap are nice for working with flexibility. Listed here are two examples of the way to use them:
- To enhance shoulder mobility: Maintain the strap in each palms in entrance of you (palms wider than shoulder width). Pull the strap up and again as you inhale, shifting previous your head. Widen your grip on the strap as wanted. Pull the strap again up and right down to the beginning place as you exhale. Do that a minimum of 5 occasions.
- To stretch tight hamstrings: Use a strap in Reclined Huge Toe Pose. Place the strap across the center of the only real and stroll your palms up the strap till your head and shoulders are comfortably on the bottom. Slowly lengthen your leg to 90 levels or so far as you may, retaining it as straight as doable. For an added hip stretch, you may open the leg to the facet whereas holding the strap in a single hand.
I additionally suggest utilizing a yoga wheel if you wish to enhance spinal mobility to go deeper into backbends. There are various methods to make use of them, corresponding to a supported prop in Fish Pose or as an support to arrange for superior poses like Forearm Wheel.
You can too get units of different-sized yoga wheels to assist you as you progress in your yoga journey. For instance, the UpCircleSeven 3-PackYoga Wheel Set accommodates 6, 10, and 12-inch wheels, so you may improve the dimensions as you turn out to be extra versatile. The wheels are additionally extremely sturdy, holding as much as 550 lbs, so you may belief them to completely assist your weight.
Follow Yin Yoga
It’s vital to grasp that flexibility isn’t purely associated to our muscle mass. The situation of our deeper connective tissues, like tendons, ligaments, and fascia, additionally determines how versatile we’re.
Due to this, I at all times suggest yogis mix yin yoga with the extra conventional kinds like Hatha. In yin yoga, all of the poses are held for prolonged durations (2 to five minutes per pose) to entry and stretch these deeper connective tissues.
In the event you apply yin yoga often along with your normal yoga apply, you’ll probably discover you may go deeper into your favourite Hatha yoga poses. Plus, most of the Hatha flexibility yoga poses listed above (corresponding to pigeon and lizard) could be practiced as yin poses by holding the stretches longer and passively.
One other method to enhance flexibility is through the use of a foam curler. Foam rolling breaks up knots within the muscle mass and fascia and helps create smoother muscle contractions. I like Lululemon’s Double Curler, because the exterior curler massages your legs and arms whereas the inside helps launch stress within the again.
Remaining Ideas On Yoga Stretches For Flexibility
Regardless of how match or wholesome we could also be, most of us expertise tightness in a single space of our physique. These flexibility yoga poses will provide help to launch stress, forestall ache, and revel in higher vary of movement in your day-to-day actions.