Although people recognise that exercise is essential for staying fit and healthy, people often disregard the benefits of increased flexibility. While improving flexibility isn’t always the main goal, doing so can be key to avoiding injury, especially as you grow older. Regular yoga practice is a great way to achieve this, encouraging the muscles to become more flexible through a variety of stretches. In this article, we explore some simple poses that are ideal for improving your flexibility. Before we begin, it’s worth picking up a comfortable yoga top to wear whilst practicing the postures. For a lightweight option, we recommend the Ana Heart Brady Oversized T-Shirt.
The Standing Forward Fold stretches your hamstrings and lower back. This pose is ideal to practice at the begin of a class to get your muscles warmed up. For maximum benefit, it’s best to hold the pose for a minimum of 60 seconds.
To begin, stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, carefully bend at the waist, lowering your upper body so it hangs all the way forward. Allow your arms to fall to the ground. You are in Standing For-ward Fold. If you cannot touch the ground when you first begin, try bending your knees slightly to make the pose a little easier. The more you practice, the more flexible you will become. When you’ve finished the pose, make sure to rise slowly so you don’t feel light-headed.
This pose is similar to Standing Forward Fold, with an additional shoulder stretch. From this posture you will receive the benefits of the previous pose, along with more flexible shoulders.
To start, get into your Standing Forward Fold and interlace your fingers behind your lower back. Next, slowly straighten your arms and bring them over your head towards the ground. You are in Standing For-ward Fold with Shoulder Opener. Make sure to move your shoulders away from your ears for maximum benefit. With regular practice your shoulders, hamstrings, and lower back will all become more flexible.
This simple pose works to stretch your shoulders, quads, ankles, shins, and lower back. For maximum benefit, hold the pose for at least two minutes while breathing deeply.
Begin on all fours. Next, bring your big toes together as you spread your knees apart. Sit back on your heels and allow your upper body to rest gently on your thighs. To stretch the shoulders, reach your arms out in front of you. Alternatively, you can place your arms by your sides for a more relaxed stretch. You are in Child’s Pose. Hold the pose for a couple of minutes while allowing the body to relax.
The famous Downward Dog Pose is great for increasing flexibility. In addition to stretching your calves, hamstrings, and achilles tendons, the posture strengthens your shoulders and arms. When you first begin, this pose may seem difficult. To make it slightly easier, beginners can bend their knees if necessary. You should strive to create a straight line with your body, manoeuvring into an upside down V-shape.
To begin, stand tall with your feet should-width apart. Bending at the waist, slowly lower your torso for-ward until your body forms a triangle. Your hands and feet should now be securely on the ground. If your shoulders or hamstrings feel too tight for the pose, try bending your knees slightly to make the posture easier. Spreading your fingers for additional balance, move your head forward until it is in-between your upper arms. For maximum benefit, move your shoulders away from your ears. You are in Downward Dog. For a deeper stretch, try extending your tailbone up and back, breathing deeply whilst doing so. This pose is best held for at least 2 minutes, but 30 seconds may be more realistic for complete beginners.
The Spinal Twist is great for increasing flexibility in the spine, shoulders, and neck. It’s worth noting that this pose often encourages the back to crack – as long as there is no pain, this is healthy and beneficial.
To start, sit on your bottom with your legs extended in front of you. Next, bend your right leg, placing your right foot flat on the ground just outside of your left thigh. Carefully manoeuvre your right hand behind you. As you inhale, use your left arm to gently hug your right knee toward your chest. When you exhale, twist your torso to your right. Take care to stretch from the base of your spine, rather than stretching from your shoulders. You are in Spinal Twist. Hold the pose 30 seconds, breathing deeply to increase the stretch. If it feels comfortable, you can bring your chin toward your right shoulder to deepen the stretch. After 30 seconds gently untwist before switching sides.
As the name suggests, this pose is a simple way to increase flexibility in the knees, glutes, and ankles. To also stretch the lower back, try leaning forward while performing the pose.
To begin, find a comfortable space to sit on the floor. Cross your legs at the calves, making sure that your feet are underneath your knees. Gently place your hands on your thighs. You are in Easy Pose. Breathe deeply for a couple of minutes to increase flexibility. When you first begin, your knees may be far away from the floor. If this is the case, it means your hips are tight. With regular practice, the hips will loosen and the pose with become more comfortable.
Whether you’re hoping to prevent injury whilst exercising, or you’re interested in being able to perform some of the more advanced postures at your next yoga class, practicing these simple poses will help to improve flexibility through yoga. For maximum benefit, its sensible to wear a flexible pair of yoga pants. For a good quality option, we recommend the Ana Heart Hendrix Supertechnic Leggings.