Mobility and flexibility – it’s often an element that we don’t make enough time for in our health and wellness journey.
In fact, over time, without consistent stretching, we often lose our flexibility abilities. It’s common now for us to spend more and more time seated our desks or sat within our cars meaning our flexibility wains – our muscles tighten, our hip flexors shorten, our shoulders become less mobile, and we can’t quite move with the ease that we once did.
Sometimes we aren’t even aware of how inflexible we have become until we find ourselves testing our bodies in a new way, such as within a yoga class. Studies have proven how beneficial it is to try to maintain a strong level of flexibility within our bodies to help improve joint mobility and movement necessary, which supports us carrying out our daily tasks and overall physical health. The stronger our body is, the better we can move and the better we feel, inside and out.
It’s easy to think that we can’t retrieve our flexibility once it’s gone. The good news is – you can improve your flexibility at any age and any stage of your life. Even making a plan to incorporate stretching 2-3 times per week to your routine can make a significant difference to your strength and flexibility.
Easy flexibility with Yoga
Flexibility is the lengthening of a muscle – muscles can be stretched and conditioned. Yoga is a fantastic way to not only improve your flexibility and strengthen your core, it also provides a lovely boost to your immune system and channels warm energy towards a positive mindset for you to live by.
As well as being a wonderful form of exercise, yoga delivers many holistic benefits to support our wellbeing:
- A combination of static, dynamic, and passive stretching
- Utilizing our breath to release tension
- Focus on your inner self
- Acknowledgment of how our body is connected
- Continued progression to explore deeper stretches and new poses
The best time to work on your flexibility is when your muscles are warm – making yoga a perfect practice, as it helps provide:
- Release of muscle tension
- Increase in energy
- Alleviation of joint pain
- Improvement of mobility
- Improvement in posture
- Increase in circulation
Essential Yoga for Inflexible People
With so many styles of yoga accessible to us, it’s easy to target your practice to support our personal goals within your wellness journey. Some yoga styles require more mobility and flexibility than others, where you may experience the limits of your own mobility and flexibility.
Vinyasa Yoga If you’re looking to gain strength, flexibility and a real refresh of mind and spirit may find joy in Vinyasa Yoga. The emphasis on the integrity of your breath and proper form and alignment can be attained through individual modifications or variations to make your practice both accessible and appropriately challenging for you.
Yin Yoga Yin yoga focuses on holding poses for longer periods of time, from anything between 45 seconds and 5 minutes. Yin yoga focuses on applying stress to and stretching out connective tissues, creating a style that is focused on flexibility and slowly improving the strength and wellness of your body.
Hatha Yoga Hatha yoga classes are built around a mindful progression of sustained poses held for a longer period compared with faster-flow yoga practices. This offers the ability to really feel your body and several breaths to help you sink deeper into your practice. The slower-to-moderate pacing helps to engage muscles throughout your body and improve stability and balance.
Power Yoga One of the more physically intense forms of yoga, Power Yoga is focused on combinations of quickly-paced movements. Sequences are designed to push you physically, generating detoxifying heat and sweat, exercising your muscles and challenging and training your endurance.
A mix of faster paced and slower-paced yoga styles can support your flexibility development in different ways. Holding a pose for longer encourages your muscles and joints to settle into the posture and find the correct alignment. It also helps develop muscle memory as you progress within the pose.
These longer holds will then help you reach proper alignment more immediately when practicing faster-paced flows like Vinyasa yoga, improving your stamina and strength.
As you establish comfort within a new pose, you may find it encourages a more meditative yoga practice and connection with your body.
Yoga poses for non-flexible people
Your journey towards better flexibility could start with exploring some dedicated poses to target the three ma jor muscles groups where we all tend to lack flexibility: hamstrings, hips, and shoulders. Here are a few poses for you to try:
- Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward Facing Dog offers a solid foundation for any yoga sequence and is a perfect standalone pose as it helps stretch and strengthen your whole body:
- Start on all fours, with hands underneath shoulders, in-line with wrists.
- Step one foot back at a time to come into Plank. Engage your core so your body and back are in one long straight line.
- Lift your hips to the ceiling - Drop your head towards your mat.
- Press your palms and heels to your mat.
- Child's Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is your resting posture with a gentle stretch across your body. It's a chance to stop, reassess your position and reconnect with your breath:
- Come to your hands and knees on the mat.
- Spread your knees as wide as your mat, keeping the tops of your feet on the mat, big toes touching.
- Lower your stomach to rest between your thighs and rest your forehead to the floor.
- Relax your shoulders, jaw, and eyes.
- Forward Fold
This pose is perfect to gently lengthen and strengthens your tight hamstrings.
- Start by standing with your feet slightly apart. Keep your legs completely straight, exhale and bend forward from your hips.
- Grip your big toes with your index or middle fingers firmly. Press your toes down against your fingers. You can use a strap if you are struggling to reach your toes without rounding your back.
- Lengthen your front torso and lift your sitting bones.
- Garland Pose (Malasana)
Garland pose is also known as a ‘yogi squat’ and helps to release tension in the lower back, hips, ankles, and pelvic floor.
- Begin in a squat position with your feet as close together as possible, with your heels on the ground.
- Lean your torso forward slightly and fit it between your thighs.
- Press your elbows against your inner knees, bringing your palms together – and hold.
- Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)
The pose has differing levels of difficulty, all providing a lovely opening posture for your hips and chest, as well as a good stretch for the quads.
- Start on all fours, with your hands and knees shoulder-width apart.
- Bring one knee forward, placing it on the floor behind your wrist.
- Slide your front ankle toward your wrist, so your shin lays across your mat at a comfortable right angle.
- Extend your back leg straight back and rest your hips on the floor with the top of your left foot flat on the floor.
- Try to keep your hips level, with your weight evenly distributed.
- You can either remain upright or you can slowly fold forward, lowering your chest to the floor.
- Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
A great strengthening pose for your legs and abdominals, as well as an effective solution to combat anxiety and an overactive mind.
- Lie flat on the floor, knees bent with your feet on the floor, heels as close to your glutes as possible.
- Press your feet into the floor and push your tailbone upward toward the sky, squeezing your glutes and lifting them off the floor. Keep your thighs and feet parallel. Clasp the hands together below your hips and hold them in place.
- Lift your chin slightly away so it’s not resting on your chest.
- Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
A sumptuous pose to help stabilize both physical and mental balance. Especially helpful as your baby grows and your center of gravity starts to shift.
- Stand with your feet apart, a little wider than hip-distance.
- Raise your arms on either side, keeping them parallel to the ground.
- Bend sideways to one side, reaching and touching your foot with your hand, raising the other arm upwards.
- Repeat with the other slide
Yoga for Flexibility in Beginners and Beyond
Yoga is a great exercise for people of all ages and all fitness levels, benefiting different parts of your body while focusing on balance, strength, and flexibility. Deep stretch yoga sequences can also support breathing and body awareness as you flow through the poses.
Your primary goal is to achieve good health and inner peace by nurturing a more balanced self between the mind and the body. Working with an expert yoga teacher can help you progress on your flexibility journey, ensuring you can be guided carefully through the ideal poses to help improve your movements.
VIVAYA offers live-streamed classes, personalized, one-on-one sessions for all abilities, including specialized workshops that can support your health, wellbeing, and more. Whether you’re just starting your wellness journey or looking to take your practice to the next level, VIVAYA has an online safe and welcoming sanctuary of classes and community waiting for you.
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