Four Yoga Poses for Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the most commonly talked about benefits of a regular yoga practice. While there are a lot more – think strength, stability, mindfulness, and overall increased wellbeing, flexibility is very important and not just to look good on the yoga mat. Increased flexibility and mobility in our muscles and connective tissue allows us to reduce our chances of injury and pain. Here are a handful of poses to help you increase your overall level of flexibility.

Forward fold

This can be done either standing or seated. It’s a great stretch for the hamstrings as well as the entire back line of the body – low, mid, and upper back and even into the neck. From standing, bring your feet about hip distance apart. Then, with slightly bent knees, hinge from your hips and fold the upper body over the lower body. Aiming for belly on thighs. You can keep quite a deep bend in the knees if that feels good, or you can start to straighten them slowly increasing the stretch. Make sure your chin is moving towards your chest to create more length across the back.

When seated, extend your legs long out in front of you, again keeping a soft bend in the knees and flexing the toes back towards the shins. Hinge from the hips once again to fold the body in half. The aim is for belly to meet the thighs, but this can be a lot more challenging when seated, so only go as far as you feel comfortable.

Open Wings

A place we can forget to stretch is the chest, pectoral muscles, and the arms. This pose is great for all three. We start by lying on the ground, face down. Bring your right arm straight out to the right side, palm facing down. Then take the left hand under the left shoulder to press down to roll over the right arm/shoulder. Creating a deep stretch across the front of the chest and into the bicep.

Half Pigeon

A big area to give attention to when it comes to flexibility and mobility is the hips, glutes, and thigh area. And this is a great stretch targeting all of these areas. On your mat, start in tabletop, then bring your right knee behind your right wrist and take your right foot towards the left wrist. Making the shin as parallel to the front of the mat as feels comfortable. Then extend the left leg long. You can stay upright or rest on the forearms, or reach the arms all the way out in front.

Eagle Pose 

A more dynamic pose than the previous three, eagle allows us to work on the hips and shoulders at the same time. Start in chair pose (feet together, knees bent nice and deep, arms reaching up), lift the left foot off the mat and wrap it over the right. Like sitting crossed legged in a chair. To go deeper cross the legs twice by wrapped the foot around the calf. Then wrap the left arm underneath the right either taking hold of shoulders, bringing the backs of the palms to touch, or bringing the palms to touch. Lift the elbows up nice and high, while drawing palms away from the face.

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