If you’re wondering how to become more flexible, then you’ve probably thought about trying out some yoga moves.
After all, many people swear by them and the benefits they can provide for the body.
That’s where we come in! In this post, we’re going to discuss the importance of flexibility and how to increase your flexibility with a few yoga poses.
Keep reading to learn more about what you can do to make those healthy changes in your daily life.
The Importance of Flexibility
Flexibility is essential in all aspects of athletics, but not many people focus on it nearly enough. The physical act of stretching itself relieves a lot of tension throughout the body, and where the body goes, the mind follows.
In other words, stretching is good for relieving mental tension (stress) as well as physical tension.
Flexibility training comes with a number of benefits, which is why many people turn to yoga. The greatest benefit is improving your range of motion and joint pain, which can prevent damage and ease old injuries.
People often experience tightness in their major muscle groups. The hamstrings, hips, and shoulders are always at the top of the list, which makes yoga perfect for alleviating that tightness.
How to Become More Flexible with Yoga
It’s a common misconception that you must be naturally flexible to participate. Yoga helps to increase flexibility, as well as strength, stamina, alignment, and awareness.
Therefore, becoming bendy takes time and commitment—but you will feel a significant openness after your first class.
The good thing about yoga poses is that they don’t work in isolation. Each pose will incorporate your major muscle groups and core in one way or another. Truthfully, the best yoga poses for flexibility are the ones you do consistently.
To get you started, here are six of the best yoga poses to increase your flexibility.
1. Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana)
This pose will gently lengthen and strengthen even the tightest of hamstrings. It also gives you a nice stretch from your spine to your feet.
To do this pose, start by standing with your feet at hip-distance apart and parallel and your hands at your sides. Contract your thigh muscles, exhale and bend forward from your hips. Move your head and torso as one unit while keeping your legs straight.
Curl your index and middle finger around your big toe, wrapping your thumb around them from the outside to secure them. From there, press your toes down against your fingers.
As you inhale and exhale once again, focus on moving your forehead closer to your shins while keeping your head and spine relaxed.
You can modify this pose by using a strap (or a towel) under the balls of each foot. If you have a lower back injury, skip this pose.
2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mhuka Svanasana)
This classic pose will give your shoulders, core, and legs a deep stretch.
To do this pose, start with your hands on the mat spread shoulder-distance apart with your arms internally rotated. Spread your feet hip-distance apart, keeping your chin tucked in and your pelvic floor engaged.
As you exhale, lift your hips and gaze at your toes. Remember to keep your legs straight and your heels firm on the mat.
You can modify this pose by simply bending your knees.
3. Garland Pose (Malasana)
This pose takes a bit of balance and strength, but it’ll open up your hips like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.
To get into Garland pose, begin standing at the front of your mat with your feet 12-inches apart. Turn your toes out, exhale, and assume a squatting position. Bring your elbows to the inside of your knees and your hands together into Anjali Mudra.
With your heels down, use your elbows to gently push your knees apart. You can modify this pose by placing a rolled-up towel beneath your heels and a block beneath your buttocks for extra support.
4. Plow Pose (Halasana)
This pose is to release tension in your back and neck.
To get into Plow pose, lie on your back with your arms fully stretched to each side. Slowly begin to lift your legs bringing your feet above and past your head.
Gently lift your back to move your feet further passed your head, keeping all toes grounded on the mat. Arms should be kept close to the shoulder blades with palms facing down into the mat for support.
To modify this pose you can bend your elbows to secure your hands beneath your lower back.
5. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is great from head to toe. It’s a resting pose that also stretches your shoulders, lower back, quads, ankles, feet, and shins.
Starting on your hands and knees, bring your big toes together as you spread your knees apart. Move your buttocks to your heels. Exhale, and bring your torso to your thighs and reach your arms out in front of you, resting your forehead on the mat.
You may also bring your arms by your sides for a more relaxed pose.
6. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
This twisty pose stretches the spine while passively stretching the outermost part of your glutes.
Begin by sitting cross-legged, with your right leg in front. Keeping your knee pointed to the sky, bring your right foot over to the outside of your left thigh, placing the sole of your foot on the mat. Keeping the outside of your left foot on the mat, move it towards the outside of your right buttocks.
Inhale with both arms up, and then exhale as you twist to the right, bringing your right hand to the floor behind you and your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
As you inhale and exhale in this pose, make sure to keep your spine elongated, your feet firmly pressed into the mat, your elbow pressed into your thigh, and your gaze to your right. Repeat on the opposite side.
To simplify this pose, you can keep your left leg stretched out in front of you.
Don’t Forget to Breathe!
Now that you’ve learned how to become more flexible with these yoga poses, it’s important that you learn how to breathe into each pose. Remember, yoga requires awareness of your breath and body, so don’t hold it in.
There are plenty more yoga poses that you can try out to increase your flexibility.
After using your yoga mat to try all of these out, you probably will need to clean it thoroughly! Check out our article on the correct way to get a clean yoga mat that you can use again and again.