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If you’ve always wanted to practice yoga but didn’t know where to begin, yoga for flexibility is a great place to start. Contrary to popular belief, yoga is not reserved for only flexible people who wear expensive pants. It’s an inclusive exercise, perfect for beginners, that uses your body to stretch and strengthen your muscles and mind.
Most people know that yoga can improve your flexibility and strengthen your body. But people who practice home yoga regularly enjoy both mental and physical gains. See some of yoga’s greatest benefits here:
Flexibility takes time and practice. It’s not something that happens overnight or even in a couple of weeks. With regular yoga practice you’ll see improvement in both your flexibility and your overall health. These are the best yoga poses to guide you to become more flexible and healthy.
This seated yoga pose is a great and simple pose to start with. You’ll feel a stretch in your lower back and hips. Remember to switch legs to get the most out of this pose.
This pose is similar to the crisscross stretch but you keep the bottoms of your feet together. Make sure to sit tall with your shoulders up and back. If you feel any discomfort in your lower back, stop the movement.
Another beginner seated yoga pose that stretches the inner thighs. You’ll bring your legs out to your sides, as far as you comfortably can. Maintain your back straight and navel in towards your spine.
This seated forward bend stretches your back, hamstrings, and claves. It’s a good pose for runners and other athletes. Many people find this pose is relaxing.
If you sit at a desk or computer during the day you likely could benefit from the stretch of the Eagle Arm pose. It may look like you’re twisting your arms in a pretzel, when in fact you are stretching your shoulders and back.
Cow Face pose stretches your arms, chest, and shoulders, making it a nice stretch if you tend to round your shoulders when you sit. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to grab a towel for this pose to help deepen the stretch.
This is a beginner yoga pose that moves the spine into a rounded and extended position. You’ll follow your breathing pattern during this pose which helps center body and mind on the movements. These movements will warm up your back, increasing circulation and flexibility.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) is probably the one yoga pose everyone has seen. It stretches your hamstrings and strengthens your upper body while you take deep breaths. Almost every yoga class will have this pose incorporated into it at some point.
With this pose, you’ll perform a modified backbend of your back, hips, and thighs. It stretches the chest, abdomen, and hip flexors while strengthening the arms and shoulders. If you spend your days sitting, then try this pose to help strengthen your abdomen, spine, and pull your shoulders back.
Here’s a beginner backbend pose that opens the chest, abdomen, and hip flexors. If you’re a seasoned yogi or new to yoga you’ll feel the stretch through the front of your body while improving your spinal mobility and still be able to control your pose with your hands.
This hip opener pose uses a forward bend to deepen the stretch. With multiple variations and modifications, you can make this pose as simple or difficult as you’d like. To keep the movement going on this pose, transition yourself into Downward Facing Dog to move onto the other leg.
The Bridge Pose is a great core strengthener and stabilizer movement. You’ll feel the burn in your glutes and hamstrings and a stretch in your chest. To make this movement more difficult, when your hips are lifted off of the ground, clasp your hands together.
Your hamstring muscles are a group of muscles on the back of the thigh. They are used for almost every lower body activity like running and walking. Stretching this large muscle group will help you curtail injury and keep your body flexible. In this pose, you’ll feel the stretch throughout your hamstring and can easily modify it to your ability.
The Figure Four Stretch releases the hamstring muscles and lower back in a comfortable reclined position. You can deepen the stretch by adjusting how far you bring your knee into your chest. When performing this pose don’t forget to stretch both legs and keep your foot flexed.
In this yoga pose, you’ll stretch your glutes, chest, and oblique muscles. Many yoga teachers will add this pose at the end of their class when your muscles are warmed up. You can benefit from doing it anytime, especially after a long day of sitting at your computer.
Here’s a stretch for your hamstrings, shoulder, and back. Grab a towel as an aid if you are unable to clasp your hands behind your back. This pose not only stretches your body but relaxes your neck.
Called Uttanasana in Sanskrit, this yoga pose stretches the hamstrings and back. It’s easy to perform this pose anywhere, at work or at home. Feel free to modify this movement as need based on your own flexibility.
Crescent Lunge is a deep hip flexor stretch that also strengthens your legs. Practice this pose to improve your stability and balance on top of its strengthening benefits. If you have knee pain, be careful practicing this pose and stop if it causes pain.
As a hip opener stretch, you’ll also stretch your inner thighs and groin with the Lizard Pose. If you have poor hip flexibility you will find this pose to be difficult. Feel free to modify this pose as necessary and push slowly through the movements.
With this pose, you’ll open your chest, strengthen your arms and legs, and stretch your hips and abductor muscles. Many people find that they tense their shoulders if efforts to keep their arms straight. Try to avoid that and consciously keep your shoulders relaxed.
Dancer Pose boosts both your flexibility and your balance. If you aren’t steady standing on one foot perform this pose next to wall or chair for stability. With regular practice, you’ll increase your core muscles, balance, and even stretch your shoulders.
Getting started with an at-home yoga practice will improve how you feel and move. At first, yoga can be intimidating, with all the different movements and poses. Don’t let that stop you. Watch yoga videos, take a class, or work with a yoga teacher until you are comfortable. Thankfully, there are multiple resources available to get you started to becoming a true yogi.
A few practical tips to get you started:
Perhaps the most important tip is to talk to your doctor before you start a new exercise or stretching routine like yoga. Your doctor will guide you through any movements that could be dangerous for your body and conditions.
See our guide on yoga for seniors if you’re looking for poses tailored to older adults.
Yoga is an ancient practice that has gained popularity in the western world. Its benefits transcend gender, nationality, race, age, and all other categories. When using yoga to increase your flexibility you’ll, in turn, improve your overall sense of well-being and strengthen both your mind, body, and spirit.