One of the benefits of practicing yoga is its ability to increase your flexibility.
Stretching your muscles greatly reduces body aches and pains, prevents injuries, and helps with your balances. Other than that, it can really help your body to release tension and stress.
So, if you’re looking for a great way to either start or end your day, why not try out these yoga poses for flexibility?
Here are the yoga poses that will help to increase your flexibility, especially in areas of the hips, hamstrings, and back! Let’s get started.
Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)
There are two variations to try for this yoga pose. Both variations are great for stretching the outer hip muscles.
The picture here is the first variation. For beginners, you may need to place your front leg closer to your body while the back leg should be kept straight directly behind the back of your head.
As your hip flexibility increases, you will be able to slowly push your front leg to be at a 90-degree angle, which is the ultimate goal of this pose.
Place your hands beside and press yourself up while keeping your shoulders back. This helps to stretch your lower back. By doing so, you’ll also be able to feel the stretch in the front of your back leg.
The difference between the first and second variation lies in the position of your body. In the second variation, your legs should be in the same position as the first. Bring your chest forward and as close to the ground. You may lean on your forearms if you can’t reach the ground. This helps to stretch your back as well as the outer front leg hip.
Duration: For each variation, hold for 30 seconds before stretching the other side of the body.
Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Start this pose by placing the soles of your feet together. While keeping your back straight, clasp your feet together with your hands, and bend forward at the hips.
The goal of this pose is to have your knees touch the ground.
As this pose highly emphasizes on hip flexibility, your knees may or may not be able to touch the ground.
You can practice by leaning forward while lightly pressing your knees into the ground.
Bring the bottoms of your feet together in front of you and clasp them with your hands.
Duration: Hold for 30 seconds.
Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana)
The Goddess Pose is a multipurpose pose that both increase your hips flexibility and get a good butt workout.
To start off, place your legs about 4 feet apart while keeping your toes pointed outwards and your heels inwards. Make sure your knees are pointing the same direction of your toes to protect your joints.
Next, lower your hips so that it is the same height as your knees while pressing your tailbone forward. This helps to stretch your hips and keep them opened. If you can, try to work towards getting your thighs parallel to the ground and your legs as close to a 90-degree angle.
For an extra butt workout, hold in the position and do small pulses going up and down.
Duration: Hold for 30 seconds. For an extra workout, pulse for 30 seconds.
You’re probably familiar with lunges. However, in yoga, lunges are for opening the hips rather than working on the glute muscles.
This stretch is particularly good in preparing to achieve your splits because it stretches the inner muscles of the hips.
The front leg should be kept at a 90-degree angle. You can either place the top of your back foot on the floor as traditionally done or you may balance on the balls of your foot with the heel off the floor.
If you want to try working different areas of the hips, you may also move a little by leaning forward.
You may also stretch your arms up above your head. For a back stretch, lean slightly backward.
Duration: Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
If you’re looking for a pose to begin your stretch, this is a good one to start with! It helps to loosen and open up the shoulders, legs, and chest which warms up your body before getting into deeper stretches.
For your first time, try practicing it in front of a mirror to check the position of your back. The main part of this pose is to keep your back as straight as possible.
The straightness of your back is also affected by the flexibility in your legs, ankles, and hamstrings. So, the more you practice this pose, the more flexibility you will achieve in those areas, and more flattened your back will become.
For a deeper stretch in your shoulders and chest, you may use your palms to push away from the mat and bring your head closer to your knees.
Whenever you’re ready to up your game, try this pose with a pedaling motion. Bring one foot up on the toes while the other stays flat on the ground. Repeat the leg sequence alternately.
The Downward Facing Dog may seem easy, but it’s a challenge worth practicing for!
Duration: Hold for 30 seconds.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Similar to Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana), this pose includes stretching both legs to the front while trying to reach your toes.
Remember to keep your back straight while executing. As a tip, using your hips rather than your waist to lean forward will help to avoid your back from hunching.
There are 2 ways you can do this pose, either sitting or standing. To increase flexibility, remember to keep your back straight while in a standing position and keeping your head close to your knees for a deeper stretch.
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana)
Here’s a little variation to the seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)!
For this pose, place both legs in front of you and spread your legs as wide as you can while maintaining your knees straight. Lean forward at your hips and place both hands on the ground in front of you.
This pose also helps in opening up your hips. The wider your legs spread, the more open your hips are. For some who don’t have a natural flexibility, this may require more time in practicing.
It’s important to avoid leaning at your waist as this will cause your back to hunch. You’ll be able to reach further front and achieve a deeper stretch for increased flexibility if your back was straight.
For a more effective stretch, you may have someone to assist you in applying slight pressure on your back.
Duration: Hold for 30 seconds
Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana)
It is one of the poses that can be used to help practice for splits.
Considered an important pose to increase flexibility, this pose requires a straightened back and legs during execution. Keeping in mind these details will help to get a deeper stretch, especially in the hamstrings.
Don’t worry if you are not able to touch your feet! Just remember to reach as far as you can without hunching over. Alternatively, you may use a yoga strap until you achieve reaching your toes.
With more practice, you’ll be able to reach your toes in no time! It’s recommended to practice this pose 3 times a week on both legs.
Duration: Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
The cobra pose is a great starting pose to increase your back flexibility without getting too intense.
As you lie on the floor facing downwards, place your hands on the floor under your shoulders with your elbows tucked close to your body.
Inhale and straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor. You do not need to straighten the arms as you only need to reach the height where you can maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs.
As you hold the pose, press your shoulders firmly against your back without pushing the front ribs forward. Make sure to distribute the backbend evenly.
Remember to always focus on lifting with your chest and upper back. Avoid relying solely on your hands. This will help you feel a deep stretch in the lower back.
Duration: Hold the pose for about 15-30 seconds. Remember to breathe easily and exhale as you release the pose. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.
Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
For this yoga pose, you’ll want to keep your body facing downwards and use both arms to push your body away from the ground. Note that the arms in this pose should always be maintained straight.
Your hips and knees should also be lifted off the ground. As the legs are being lifted, the back is given more space to have a deeper stretch without risking any injury.
At this point, only the palms of your hands and the tops of your feet are touching the floor. Everything else should be lifted away from the ground. Remember to lift your gaze upward.
Duration: Hold for 30 seconds or as long as you feel comfortable.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
This is a great yoga pose to get your back warmed up for more intense back stretches.
The first thing you should do is to place both hands on the back of your hips. Lift your gaze, and lean back while trying to reach up and over.
Once you’ve reached your comfortable point, shift your weight and reach for one side of your heel to grab onto. Next, lean further back with your gaze still tilting upwards and grab the other heel.
For a deeper stretch on each side of the back, slowly lift and stretch one side of your arms straight back behind you. Do this one arm at a time and alternately.
It’s important to rest your neck back. The reason behind this is to prevent any neck injuries from straining to keep it upright.
Duration: Hold this pose for 5-6 breaths. Once you feel comfortable, you can try to practice it by holding it longer.
Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
The bow pose is a fun challenge to bump up your flexibility and have fun like a kid!
As you lie on the ground facing downwards, use your hands to grab the outside of your ankles. Next, lift both your chest and legs up at the same time. Remember to keep your knees the same width as your hips throughout holding this position.
Imagine your tailbone pressing into the floor while keeping your back muscles soft.
Slowly lift your heels and thighs higher as you press your shoulder blades against your back. This helps to open your heart.
As you keep your gaze forward, the tops of your shoulders should be drawn away from your ears. K
Duration: Hold for about 20-30 seconds. Exhale as you release and continue to take a few breaths as you rest. You may repeat this pose once or twice more.
Practice makes perfect
Flexibility isn’t something that can be achieved in one stretching session. It takes consistent and frequent practices to achieve it!
Try setting a time during the day where you can really concentrate on working on these poses. That way, you’ll be creating a habit of practicing. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll progress!
That being said, it’s important to always listen to your body when working on your flexibility. You want to apply just enough pressure to stretch deeper, but if you need a rest, release the pose and relax. Give yourself some time before going back into it.
Yoga also isn’t just about flexibility, you can use it for other benefits such as increasing your range of motion, relaxing your body and mind or losing weight.
If this is too easy for you and you would like to spice things up, you can always explore other yoga poses and add them to your yoga routine!