Updated: Nov 7, 2022
Increased flexibility is generally a huge advantage. It improves range of motion and joint health, which aids in the prevention of back pain, repetitive-use injuries and sports injuries. Yoga is much more than just flexibility. In fact, people who come to yoga with a lot of flexibility must be careful not to rush into advanced poses just because they can. They frequently need to work on their strength to compensate for their flexibility, build support muscles and ensure that they are practicing safe alignment.
It is true that many people avoid yoga due to a lack of flexibility. In this case, you may be hesitant to attend a public class, fearing that you will be the least flexible person in the room. Nevertheless, it is a common misconception that in order to practice yoga, you must be naturally flexible. Yoga is ideal if you have tight hamstrings, hips, calves, or shoulders. Flexibility is a result, not a prerequisite.
Why focus on flexibility?
Flexibility is an important aspect of physical fitness. Most people prioritize cardio and strength training, but flexibility is often overlooked until pain or injury occurs. When they do, the treatment usually consists of stretching tight muscles that restrict range of motion and place stress on vulnerable areas such as the joints. Flexibility also improves circulation. It can increase blood flow, which can aid in muscle recovery. It can also assist you in avoiding post-workout stiffness.
Stretching your muscles helps to release tension and tightness, making movement easier. In this way, pressure and stress is relieved in areas such as your neck, back, and shoulders. Overall, releasing this tension can help you avoid poor posture and sit up straight.
What are the best yoga poses to boost flexibility?
Yoga classes are a great place to work on flexibility because you'll get expert advice on the safest ways to gradually increase flexibility and how to use props as needed. Yoga poses that are practiced on a regular basis are the best for flexibility. The hamstrings, hips, and shoulders are usually at the top of the list of major muscle groups that many people have tightness in. Stretching the calves, quads, intercostals, and pectorals will benefit you because yoga poses do not typically work one area in isolation. Read on to find out some of the yoga poses that improve flexibility.
Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) - This pose will increase ankle flexibility while also opening up your hips. Begin on all fours, wrists under shoulders, knees under hips. Push your hands into the floor and raise your hips toward the sky, lengthening your legs to form an inverted "V" shape. (If you're just getting started, bend your knees.) You'll become more flexible over time and be able to straighten those legs!). As you hold the position, allow your spine to lengthen. Maintain for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat.
Head-to-knee forward bend (Janu Sirsasana) - This pose is great for increasing flexibility in your hips, thighs, and back, as well as increasing blood flow and relieving stress in your lower abs. Extend your right leg forward while sitting on a yoga mat. Breathe in and sit tall, raising your arms overhead. Breathe out and fold forward toward your right leg, bending at the hips. Place your hands on the floor or hold on to your outstretched foot or leg. Hold this pose for 1-2 minutes.
Cat-Cow (Bitilasana Marjaryasana) - Cat-Cow may appear to be an amusing name for a yoga pose, but its benefits are far from amusing. This pose improves mobility and flexibility in the neck, shoulders, spine, and core. Begin on all fours, with the wrists directly beneath the shoulders and the knees directly beneath the hips. Breathe in and let your belly drop toward the floor, keeping your weight evenly distributed across your body. Allow the tailbone, chest, and chin to rise as the belly falls. Breathe out and round your spine upward, pressing into your hands. Tuck your chin into your chest as your spine rises.
Pose of the Needle (Sucirandhrasana) - This pose is excellent for loosening tight hips, improving posture, and stretching your hamstrings and lower back. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your right foot off the floor. "Thread" your left hand through your legs like a needle. Bring your right hand behind your right thigh to meet your left hand. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Sit comfortably, then stretch your spine and open your chest. Raise your left arm overhead, then bend it to point your fingers down your spine. Place your right hand on your left elbow and gently draw it to the right, allowing your left hand to move lower down your spine. Stay there for at least 30 seconds.
Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) - Pigeon pose is a hip opener and forward bend that stretches your thighs, groin, back, piriformis, and psoas. The psoas and other hip flexors are stretched by extending the leg to the back. It is an excellent antidote to prolonged sitting. Reach your right foot up to the sky from a downward dog position. Bring your right knee in line with your right arm. Bring your right foot to your left side, allowing your shin to rest on the ground. Lower your back leg to the mat and lift your chest, keeping your hips in a straight line. Hold for a breath before slowly lowering your torso to the ground, folding it over your right leg. You have the option of bringing your forehead to the mat here. Hold for as long as you want, then peel your body back up. Return to downward dog and repeat on the opposite side.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) - This pose is a back-bending yoga posture that many new students learn. This backbend strengthens the legs and hips while also massaging the spine and opening the heart. Lie on your back in the center of your mat, knees bent, legs parallel and hip-distance apart. Raise your feet to the level of your buttocks. Inhale and press down with both feet to lift your hips, lifting from the pubic bone rather than the navel. Place your hands on the floor behind your back. Get on top of your shoulders and broaden your collarbones. Roll your upper thighs in and tighten your outer shins. Firmly press down through your heels to raise the back of your thighs and the bottom of your buttocks even higher while maintaining parallel thighs. To finish, exhale, let go of your hands, and lower to the floor.
Child's pose (Balasana) - This is the most important resting posture in yoga and is a great way to gently stretch different parts of your body. It is a gentle back, hip, thigh, and ankle stretch. It can also help with back pain. On the yoga mat, get down on your hands and knees. Spread your knees as far as your mat allows, with the tops of your feet on the floor and your big toes touching. Place your belly between your thighs and root your brow to the floor. Relax the jaw, shoulders, and eyes. If placing the forehead on the floor is uncomfortable, rest it on a block or two stacked fists.
Yoga - in addition to its many other advantages - is one of the best ways to improve flexibility because it can improve joint and muscle mobility as well as muscle strength. Consistent practice of a wide range of postures yields positive results over time. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll see results, but there's no need to set a timetable because there are too many variables. It all depends on where you start and what other forms of exercise you do. How frequently you practice yoga, the type of yoga you practice, your own unique physique, and a variety of other factors also play an important role. But one thing we can assure you is that practicing yoga on a regular basis will improve your flexibility.