The 14 Yoga Stretches To Do Daily If You Want To Become More Flexible
The best yoga stretches to do every day are the ones that can help you increase your flexibility and full range of motion from head to toe. These include yoga stretches for your hips, as well as your hamstrings, calves, back, shoulders, and arms.
Whether you’re looking for an easy way to om at home in a restorative way, are a beginner that’s new to yoga, or are just looking for ways to deepen your practice by relaxing further into postures you know and love, regularly taking time to slow your flow and hold certain yoga postures can open up a whole new world of possibilities to you when it comes to this ancient practice.
The main goal of any type of static stretching is to stay in the position long enough for your brain to send a message to your muscles that it’s cool to loosen up. It takes at least 30 seconds for them to get this memo, so make sure to nama-stay in each poses for at least that long in order to get the full effect.
Below are the 20 yoga stretches to do regularly if you want to become more flexible. It’ll take you 10 to 20 minutes to complete them. All you need is a mat.
Good for: lats, hips, thighs, ankles
How to: Start seated with toes together and knees wide, butt resting on heels. Walk hands forward until arms are straight, forearms on floor, and lower torso so stomach rests on thighs and forehead is on mat.
Thread the Needle
Good for: shoulders, chest, arms, upper back, and neck
How to: Start on all fours. Lift right arm toward ceiling while rotating torso to right side. Reverse the movement and continue rotating upper body and extended right arm through center and to the left, bringing right arm and shoulder to rest on the floor behind left palm (hips stay high) and placing right ear on mat.
Good for: chest, abs, hip flexors
How to: Start lying on stomach with legs extended straight behind body, arms bent and palms flat on the floor by ribs, shoulders and head lifted a few inches above mat, gaze just in front of nose so spine stays neutral. Push through palms to raise upper body higher, but stop if lower back hurts.
Upward Facing Dog
Good for: quads, hip flexors, ankles, abs, chest
How to: Start lying on stomach with legs extended straight behind body, arms bent and palms flat on the floor by ribs, shoulders and head lifted a few inches off mat, gaze right in front of nose so spine stays neutral. Push through palms to extend arms to straight, lifting torso up to look straight forward, pushing shoulders down away from ears, and picking thighs and shins up off the mat.
Good for: shoulders, upper back, arms, abs
How to: Start seated with butt on heels. Walk hands forward to all fours position. Then, lower forearms on to the floor, dropping chest down and bringing forehead to rest on mat. Keep hips high the whole time.
Downward Facing Dog
Good for: hips, hamstrings, calves
How to: Start on all fours. Tuck toes and lift hips into air, extending legs to straight and shifting weight back into feet so body forms an upside down “V” shape.
Good for: glutes
How to: Start standing with feet together and arms at sides. Lower into a squat, by pushing butt back and down, and raise arms overhead, bringing biceps by ears.
Good for: ankles, calves, hamstrings and hip flexors
How to: Start standing at front of mat with feet under hips and arms at sides. Fold forward, place fingers on floor, and step left foot to back far enough that right knee can bend to 90 degrees. Lift torso up until shoulders are over hips and extend arms overhead, biceps by ears.
Extended Side Angle
Good for: abs
How to: Start in a warrior II position with right leg forward, knee bent at 90 degrees and heel bisecting inner arch of left foot. Tilt torso forward over right thigh and down so that fingertips of right hand can rest on the floor inside of right foot, and extend left arm forward, bringing bicep by ear.
Good for: hamstring (front leg), hips
How to: Start with right leg forward, left leg back, feet wider than shoulders (right toes facing top of mat, outside of left foot parallel to bottom of mat), upper body facing left side, and arms extended straight at shoulder height. Lean torso forward and lower it down until right hand can rest on floor, block, or ankle, stretching left hand toward ceiling and looking up at it.
Good for: inner thighs
How to: Start seated with legs together and bent, feet flat on the floor, hands hugging knees, and spine long. Open legs like a book and bring soles of feet together, grasping toes. Actively push knees down toward mat.
Good for: hip flexors, quads
How to: Start lying on back with arms at sides and legs bent, feet flat on the floor. Squeeze glutes and lift hips into air. Pull shoulder blades together and bring hands to clasp under body on mat.
Good for: shoulders, back, neck, hamstrings, and calves
How to: Start lying on back with arms at sides and legs bent, feet flat on the floor. Push arms down into mat and lift legs straight up and then overhead, bringing toes to touch floor, balancing on shoulders. Bend arms to bring hands to lower back for extra support.
Good for: shoulders, chest, abs, hip flexors, quads
How to: Start lying on back with legs bent, feet flat on the floor, arms bent and overhead so that palms are flat on mat by ears, fingers pointing toward shoulders. Squeeze glutes and push down through hands and heels, lifting body up off of floor until all four limbs are straight.
Modification: Keep knees bent and over ankles instead of fully extending legs if doing so creates pain in lower back.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com