Are you itching to start yoga but worry that you’re not flexible enough?
Do all those mind-blowing poses on Instagram give you anxiety, and put you off from doing yoga in public?
Don’t worry; it’s called “yoga practice” for a reason.
For many people, getting flexible and strong in both your mind and body is actually the whole point of practicing in the first place. According to recent studies, regular yoga practice may increase both your flexibility and balance. Read on for five easy yoga poses you can do at home right now for a more flexible body.
It’s called yoga practice—not yoga perfect.
Many people falsely assume they need to be highly flexible to do yoga. However, it’s by doing yoga that people often develop flexibility. You have to spend some time practicing, but the emotional and physical benefits of doing yoga are well worth the effort.
So drop any ideas that you need to be sleek and slender—have fun, and you’ll soon reap the benefits.
Below are a few recommended yoga poses you can use right now at home to enhance your flexibility. You don’t even need to go to a studio to get started, though I recommend having a look at tutorials on YouTube if you need to see how the poses look in action.
Bend, don’t break.
People with little or no flexibility usually have tightness in one (and sometimes more than one) of the three major muscle groups: the shoulders, hips, or hamstrings.
Those who run or sit down a lot will need some help getting one or more of these muscle groups loosened up. Sometimes, these tight muscles cause other issues too. If you have tight hamstrings, for example, you could also experience problems with back pain.
According to studies, even just doing one yoga class per week can help improve flexibility in your hamstrings and spine. You can also avoid injury by working on your flexibility.
How to loosen up the major muscle groups:
Thanks to the dynamic and static stretching done when practicing yoga, people gain more flexibility in these major muscle groups. Here are some of the poses you can do to loosen up your tight muscles and gain more flexibility:
1. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
This yoga pose is perfect for loosening your hamstrings and shoulders. Place your palms down on the floor. Then raise your bottom in the air with your back straight. Keep going until your legs are straight—or as straight as you can get them.
2. Anuvittasana (Standing Back Bend)
With arms pointing upward, stand with your feet apart (preferably shoulder-width). Start reaching backward and slightly arch your back, but don’t reach back too far, or you’ll cause back strain.
3. Sucirandhrasana (Eye of the Needle)
This technique is a simple way to stretch your hip muscles. While lying with your back on the floor, take your left ankle and cross it over your right thigh. If you want to challenge yourself a little more, try lifting your bottom gradually after crossing your ankle over your thigh. Switch legs.
4. Urdhvamukhasvanasana (Upward-Facing Dog)
While lying with your stomach on the floor, press your hands to the floor and lift yourself up. Lift your knees off the mat. Push the top of your feet down into the mat. Make sure your shoulders are away from your ears and open your chest. Only move your head back if it’s okay for your neck.
5. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)
Bend and touch the floor while standing. Make sure your hips are in front of your ankles while bending. It may be tempting to push your hips backward as you bend, but try to keep them in front of your ankles as much as you can while bending.
As mentioned earlier, I highly recommend searching for these poses on YouTube to see how they look in practice if you are not familiar with them.
Use yoga props to support your body.
Props can be your best buddies during yoga practice as you build your strength and flexibility. These include straps, blocks, and bolsters. Most yoga studios have these at hand for their clients.
If you’re at home and don’t have these props, there’s no need to fret. You can use household items instead. Books work as blocks, you can use scarves instead of straps, and it’s easy enough to replace the bolster with pillows.
Don’t fight your body.
It’s important to remember that we’re all built differently, and some of us are naturally more flexible than others. Please don’t compare yourself to people who’ve been practicing yoga for years.
Instead, be proud of all the amazing things your body can do right now and make sure you have fun on your yoga journey.
Becoming more flexible doesn’t happen overnight. So, don’t lose motivation because you’re not seeing any results from the first day or two. It’s going to take some time to see improvement in your flexibility, so try to do these poses regularly.
Remember that there’s more to yoga than being able to touch your toes or undertake complicated poses. Peace of mind, self-compassion, and less stress are just as worthy yoga goals, if not better.