It should be no surprise that people practice yoga for flexibility. Some people think they can’t do yoga because they’re not flexible, but this is not so. Yoga can help anyone become more flexible. It’s not necessary to be able to touch your toes or get your foot behind your head before you begin a yoga practice!
Benefits of Practicing Yoga for Flexibility
Along with strength and endurance, flexibility is an important part of physical fitness. When you’re able to bend easily, you can function better in daily life. You’re also less likely to get injured from physical activity.
Another benefit of being flexible is it helps improve blood flow through soft tissue. This is important because blood carries nutrients. A flexible body tends to be better nourished.
Good posture is another benefit of doing yoga for flexibility. Along with having a strong core (another physical benefit of practicing yoga), staying flexible means you’ll have an easier time keeping your spine aligned. Good posture creates more space for the lungs to expand and take in oxygen.
There are psychological benefits to practicing yoga for flexibility as well. Being physically flexible on the mat teaches you to go with the flow in non-physical ways as well. That is, when you face something challenging or unexpected, you can adjust mentally. When things don’t go your way, you can be flexible and adapt to the situation.
How to Practice Yoga for Flexibility
One way to improve flexibility with yoga is to practice deep stretches. Twists and side bends are good examples. Cat-cow flows and forward bends are good choices as well.
Flows, such as sun salutations and vinyasa style classes are also great for staying flexible. Moving from pose helps stretch tight muscles.
Other poses that help improve flexibility are:
- Hip openers – triangle, wide leg forward bend, seated wide angle pose, butterfly, pigeon, reclined pigeon, happy baby, lotus
- Hamstring stretches – downward dog, lunges, forward bends, humble warrior
- Backbends – camel, bridge, wheel, reverse triangle, windswept warrior, cobra, sphinx, bow
- Shoulder openers – thread the needle, downward dog, humble warrior, twists
Don’t Forget the Mind
Remember, yoga for flexibility includes practices for the mind. In general, yoga is a mindful practice, but it’s easy for humans to become distracted. Practicing with mindfulness—that is, with attention to each movement as well as the breath—can help make the mind more flexible.
Balancing poses are great for mind-body connection, and of course, pranayama (yogic breathing) helps balance the mind as well.
Anyone can practice yoga for flexibility. If you’re one of the reluctant yogis who thinks you’re not stretchy enough to practice, here are ten poses you can start with. Practice these every day, and you’ll feel bendy in no time!
- mountain pose
- child’s pose
- downward dog
- chair pose
- bridge pose
- legs up the wall
- warrior two
- forward bend (you don’t have to touch your toes!)
- tree (it’s okay if you wobble or fall!)
For more, try the Yoga for Flexibility program on the Track Yoga app!