So, you say that you’re not very flexible? Join the club of many other people that are slowly losing their flexibility every day from inactivity. Many factors can contribute to a less bendy body, from genetics to the weather.
Age and gender also play a role in this, as men and older people tend to be less flexible than young women. This doesn’t mean that you should just sit back and rejoice, you’re not getting nay younger. If you’re looking to be bendier, these 11 beautiful yoga poses for flexibility are for you.
Before you get started: Hold each position for 5 to 10 breaths. Feel free to hold the seated poses for a bit longer, as long as you’re comfortable. Remember to maintain a smooth and steady breath throughout the poses.
1. Child’s Pose or “Balasana”
This is an incredibly basic move that is used more as a resting pose. You can actually stay in this pose for up to a few minutes. One of the simplest yoga poses for flexibility that is great to get more connected with your breathing.
How to do it: Start with your knees and tops of your feet on the floor with the feet together. Separate your knees, rest your belly and chest between your legs. Place your head on the floor, and stretch your arms out in front of you.
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2. Downward Facing Dog or “Adho Mukha Svanasana”
This pose is a bit more challenging for beginners. but it can be made easier when you increase the distance between your feet.
How to do it: With your feet hip-width apart, hinge forward at the waist and press your flat palms into the ground, push your hips in the air. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, shoulders and back should line up in a straight, diagonal line. Toes facing forward. At any time, feel free to take a break by resting in child’s pose, and then come back into downward dog again.
For beginners, bend your knees to keep the spine long and move some of the body’s weight into the legs.
3. Chair Pose or “Utkatasana”
This is one of the yoga poses for flexibility that is symmetrical, meaning both sides of your body will be moving in and out of the pose at the same time. This pose will heat you up and strengthen your legs.
How to do it: Stand with your feet together or at hip-width if you’re stiff. Bend your knees like you’re sitting in a chair (get it?) while raising the arms alongside your ears.
4. Tree Pose or “Vrksasana”
This is a one-legged balancing pose. Tree pose builds your confidence and can help to center your mind. Believe me, it is not easy to think about your stress when you’re trying to balance on one leg.
How to do it: Stand tall on one leg and bring your foot up to your ankle, shin, or thigh (depending on your flexibility). Feel free to put a hand on the wall for balance or even stand with your back against the wall. If you’re really feeling centered, lift your hands into the air to create the branches” for your tree.
5. Bridge Pose or “Setu Bandha Sarvangasana”
Just like in chair pose, you can move in and out of bridge on alternating breaths, or hold the pose if you feel you’re able to. A seriously energizing move that opens up the whole front of the body; hips, abdomen, and chest will all be flexed. One of my favorite yoga poses for flexibility.
How to do it: Lay flat on the floor, bend the knees with feet flat on the floor, knees pointing to the ceiling and arms alongside your body. Press into your arms, and keep your feet on the ground as you move the hips away from the floor. You’ll feel your chest opening along with your hips.
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6. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose or “Viparita Karani”
After a long day of being on your feet, 5 to 8 minutes of laying in this cooling pose will make you feel like a brand new person. This relaxing position also improves circulation throughout your body.
How to do it: Lie on your back and walk your legs up a flat wall. Your legs need to be straight and the end of your back should meet the wall. If you need, place a pillow under your lower back for extra support.
7. Locust Pose or “Salabhasana”
This is a back-bend and is extremely accessible for beginners. It’s very energizing and heating, but also strengthens all the muscles in the back. This pose is perfect for improving your posture, and for many of us with desk jobs, it works the upper back muscles.
How to do it: Lie on your belly and inhale while you raise everything off the floor - arms, legs, and chest. Palms should face the floor, focus on keeping your neck long and extend the head up and away from the chest. Exhale slowly as you lower everything back down to the floor.
8. Warrior 2 or “Virabhadrasana II”
One of the more familiar-looking yoga poses for flexibility, warrior 2 strengthens your legs; it’s heating and helps to open up your inner thighs.
How to do it: This is a standing pose, step your feet wide apart, about a leg’s distance. Turn your right leg out 90 degrees, and then angle your left toes in just slightly. Take your arms out to the side, to be level with the floor. Bend your right knee so it stacks on top of your ankle. Hold that pose, then, repeat for the opposite side.
9. Plank Pose
This is a core-strengthening move that is great for beginners. It can be done with your knees on the ground at first, or off the ground for those who are more advanced.
How to do it: Get into a stance similar to a push-up, but place your forearms together and down into the mat. Make sure to keep your body still, straight, and elevated about 3 to 4 inches off the mat. Try and think about drawing the abdomen into the lower back. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths, or come out of it in between breaths if it’s too difficult to hold.
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10. Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend or “Adrha Uttanasana”
This is a more advanced stretch to the most basic yoga poses for flexibility. This forward bend stretches the hamstrings and the inner thighs. It’s a calming pose that brings wonderful results.
How to do it: Spread your feet far apart, about a leg’s distance. With your quads engaged, hinge yourself forward at the hips with a flat back. Place your hands on the floor if you can, but if not you can hold onto blocks if you have them, or the back of a couch or coffee table. If your legs are tight, your back will be a lot harder to straighten; placing your hands on something will help keep your back flat.
11. Thread the Needle
This pose gets its name because it looks like you’re pushing your arms through the eye of a needle. This is a great pose for beginners that have very tight muscles. Your back is supported, and you can add more support by placing a pillow behind the neck.
How to do it: Lie on your back and bring your knees up to form a 90-degree angle with your knees pointing to your head. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh. Clasp your hands behind your left knee and pull the leg toward you. This will stretch the right buttocks and the left hip. Repeat on the other side.