Flexibility is what keeps us mobile, keep our joints moving freely, and with a wide range of motion; and it’s something many of us take for granted. If we have a sedentary lifestyle, or we work in an office where we’re constantly in a chair in front of a computer, our flexibility can actually weaken. As we age, our loss of flexibility can lead to decreased mobility, making even the most routine daily activities difficult. There may be no better way to build and increase flexibility than with Yoga. Yoga poses stretch and lengthen your muscles, increase your range of motion, increase strength, and boost your mood. Here are five basic poses you can try for increased flexibility.
Cat & Cow Pose
Begin with your hands and knees on the floor, in a tabletop position. Inhale, and on the exhale, round your spine up, like a cat arching its back, remembering to engage your abs, tuck your chin towards your chest. Now for the cow portion of the pose, inhale again, arch you back, release the abs, and lift your head and tailbone towards the ceiling. Repeat for several rounds.
One of the most underappreciated natural aspects of maintaining our health and wellness is our breath. By being mindful of our breathing and practicing it correctly, we can do our respiratory system a kindness and potentially treat some of the symptoms of common winter illnesses.
Downward Dog Pose
Start in tabletop position, tuck the toes under, press into the hands, and lift the hips up towards the sky. Palms should be shoulder width apart and fingers spread. Press out through the fingers. Keeping arms straight, press hips up and back, moving chest towards the thighs. Lift up through tailbone, keeping spine straight. Feet should be hip width apart with heels pressed into the floor, stretching the back of the legs. Your head and neck should be hanging freely. Hold for several seconds, release, bend the knees, and return to tabletop.
Hands to Feet Pose
This is a basic pose, but oh so good for those tight hamstrings and other muscles. Start by standing straight, as you inhale, slowly raises your arms toward the sky. Bend as far forward as you can and reach for your toes. Ultimately you want to bend until your abdomen touches your legs, but if you’re new to yoga, don’t be discouraged if you can’t. In the pose, take some deep breaths, and then slowly release back to a standing position.
Intense Side Stretch Pose
This is a simple, but intense stretch. Start by standing straight, facing forward with your legs apart, one in front of the other. Gently close your arms behind your back and slowly bend forward to touch your left knee with your head. Hold for a few seconds and return to a standing position. Repeat the pose on the opposite side.
There is a myth that you have to be flexible to practice yoga. One of the benefits of yoga is to help increase your flexibility. If you’ve never tried yoga before, we encourage you to take a class with us! With frequent practice, you’ll be able to see the progress of your body’s ability to move. Learn more about our classes here >>
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