Many people think that only flexible people can do yoga and this stops them from ever practicing it. However, that’s far from the truth. Anyone can practice yoga – even the ones who are far from flexible. In fact, there are some poses and stretches that can significantly improve one’s flexibility.
When practiced for a long period of time, an individual will be as pliable as a pro. Keep in mind, however, that the old adage “slow and steady wins the race” is applicable here. In other words, it’s recommended to take it slow and allow the body to stretch and lengthen little by little.
A classic yoga pose, the Hands to Feet or Uttanasana is a great stretch to do in order to lengthen as well as strengthen the spine and legs. To do this pose, one must first and foremost stand up straight. Then while inhaling, lift both arms above the head. While lifting, try to really stretch out the arms, reaching for the sky.
The next step is to bend forward and outstretch the hands towards the toes. Not everyone will be able to touch their toes and that’s completely okay – just try to reach as far as possible. If extremely flexible, one can even go as far as letting their stomach and legs touch.
Now, while holding this position, keeping taking deep breaths. Beginners can stay in this position for at least 10-20 seconds before letting go.
The Triangle Pose is a very common yoga move that’s also relatively easy to do. Not only is it great for improving one’s flexibility, but it’s also a gives the hamstrings a good stretch. There is more than one way to reach this pose, but Warrior II might be the easiest way.
So, if or when in Warrior II, simply straighten the right leg. The right hand should then be outstretched facing the room, and then lowered down to the shin or ankles. If able, one can also try to touch the floor on the inside or the outside of the foot.
For those who aren’t that flexible yet, the leg will want to bend. However, it’s recommended that the practitioner keeps their leg as straight as possible. So it would be best to put a block on the floor and place the hand there instead.
As for the left hand, it should be raised towards the ceiling and the head should follow suit. If an individual has a hard time looking up at their left hand due to neck problems, then they have the option to position their head in a more neutral and comfortable way.
Remain in this position for at least 5 breaths and then do it all again on the other side.
Downward Facing Dog is one of the most common yoga poses out there. In fact, it’s so common that most if not all yoga sessions will have this pose at some point. It’s a wonderful pose to do for stretching the shoulders and legs, especially before doing any of the more difficult poses.
One very important thing to keep in mind when doing this pose is that having a straight back is essential. It may not be possible for those who are just starting out. But eventually, as the legs and hamstrings become more flexible, the back will also be straighter.
This pose is relatively easy – all one has to do is to first be on all fours. The knees should be positioned under the hips, while the hands should be a bit extended away from the shoulders. After that, turn the toes and then lift up the knees on an exhale.
The tailbone should be extended up towards the ceiling. At the same time, the head should be placed in-between the arms. Try to flatten the feet onto the floor or mat; this stretches the hamstrings. Those who are new to yoga, or those who aren’t that flexible, won’t be able to do this at first.
There’s no need to worry, though, because this will be possible over time. It’s okay if the heels won’t touch the ground yet – just try to stretch it out as far as possible. Do this pose for at least 30 seconds.
This pose is wonderful for stretching and opening up the hip muscles as well as for improving flexibility. Otherwise known as Kapotasana, there are two ways that a yogi can do the Pigeon Pose. For the first variation, position the left leg in front at a 90-degree angle.
However, those who are inexperienced can place the leg closer to the body for ease. As for the other leg, it should be straight out behind the body. Place both hands in front of the bent leg and then press upwards to stretch the back.
For the second form, the legs are still placed in the same positions. However, instead of using the hands to stretch, the chest should be lowered towards the mat. Once again, don’t force it – if it is too difficult, then it’s acceptable to just lean on the forearms for support.
Doing this variation is a good way to stretch the outer left hip. Choose which variation is more preferable, but it’s also alright to do both. Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds before switching to the other side.
Don’t be afraid to use as many props as needed. For instance, a practitioner can use padding and the like to help support the backside.
The name might sound intimidating, but Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana isn’t that complex. However, it does pack a punch when it comes to stretching the lower back. To start, lie down face first onto the mat. Both arms should be in front while the elbows are bent.
Using the shoulders and upper back, steadily lift while the hands are pressed onto the mat. Don’t completely rely on the hands, though – the upper back as well as the chest should be doing most of the work.
Do be careful not to damage the back by completely straightening the arms when stretching. Keep this in mind in order to make sure that the pose is being done right: the lower ribs, hips, and legs should remain touching the mat.
This pose is another key pose in yoga, as both amateurs and professionals can do it. It may be a bit difficult at first, but constant practice will resolve that issue. Besides, props are also more than welcome when doing this pose so that the practitioner can be comfortable.
For instance, sitting up on a folded blanket can significantly help one sit up straighter. Cobbler’s pose or Baddha Konasana might be familiar – it is a pose that children do. Basically, here’s how to do it:
To start, one must be in a staff pose, which is where the legs are outstretched. Proceed by bringing the soles of the feet together. During this time, the knees should bend, so just let them hang out to the side. Try to bring the feet as close as possible, but be careful not to overdo it.
If any pain is felt, draw the feet back to a more comfortable position. Also remember to keep the spine long during this pose by sitting up straight. The shoulders should also be positioned away from the ears. Besides improving one’s flexibility, this pose can also help open the hips.
There are quite a few misconceptions about yoga and the belief that only flexible people can practice it is one of them. However, as debunked in this article, that is not the case. Anyone can do yoga – whether they are young or old, flexible or not.
There are definitely more than 6 poses that can help improve anyone’s flexibility, but the ones listed and explained here are some of the best ones to start with. Practice them every day if possible and sooner than later, flexibility will no longer be a problem.