Everyone should add a simple yoga routine for flexibility if they want to keep their muscles strong and lean. People say that a person’s age is determined by the flexibility of his/her spine and yoga is the perfect way to stay young
We get so used to not moving and bending that our muscles dehydrate and stiffen with age. Elastic fibers get bound up with collagenous connective tissue getting tight. Stretching everyday slows down the process of dehydration by stimulating the production of tissue lubricants.
“Our lives are restricted and sedentary,” explains Dr. Thomas Green, a chiropractor in Lincoln, Nebraska, “so our bodies get lazy, muscles atrophy, and our joints settle into a limited range.”
Yoga is good for flexibility, strength and balance.
- Flexibility: Yoga is a slow and soft practice that helps you regain flexibility. People with arthritis or who know they are very stiff can start off with a gentle style of yoga that focuses on deep stretching. While practicing, you will see that your range of motion starts to become more free. Yoga trains your muscles to be more limber.
For anyone who feels that their body is too tight and that the yoga mat is too difficult to workout on, try out chair yoga. This style of yoga has a great range of exercises that offer even more stretching benefits than the floor. Once you have loosened up enough, you can move onto the mat and more advanced poses.
To get the deepest stretch, you need to be mindful of your breathing. Meditation and breathing helps us move more into the pose stretching the muscles slowly. The more we stretch out our muscles, the more we build them up to be flexible. You need to hold your breaths for a few counts followed by powerful releases.
- Strength: There are so many muscles that we don’t use everyday. On top of that, muscle mass on adults starts to reduce at around 40 or 50 years of age. Not having muscle mass means that you feel weaker. People need to strengthen the muscle mass by using them.
In yoga, you are training your muscles to support your weight in hundreds of poses. And there are yoga poses for each muscle – even those you didn’t know you had. Yoga poses challenges to these muscles and strengthens it.
- Balance: Yoga includes a variation of poses that require you to work on your balance. There is the classic image of balancing on one foot and resting the other on your thigh. Head balances are also impressive and performed by more advanced practitioners. No matter what your level in yoga, there is a need to hold your balance and breath through every pose.
You need to work on particular muscle that help you maintain stability and balance while in a pose. Muscle groups in the hips, outer hips and glutes are at work as well as your inner thighs, shin, calf and core muscles. They have to work in sync with each other and keep you in control.
Two important muscles are the medius and minimus muscles of the glutes. Found on the hip, they create exterior support around our pelvis and legs. As we grow older, these muscles gradually weaken. The result is a sway in our walk because our hips are moving too much from side to side. The National Institute of Health states that falls are one of the biggest causes of accidents reported.
“1.6 million older adults go to the emergency room each year because of a fall. These falls can result in bruises, fractures, or even broken bones. One of the best things you can do to prevent falls is to practice balance and build muscle strength, and yoga specializes in both.”The National Institute of Health
The best yoga style for flexibility is a hard one to choose. Every yoga pose stretches and strengthens necessary muscles keeping you feeling young and strong. While you practice yoga, you connect more with your body. You listen to where you feel the tension and work through the stretch. Adding a full body yoga routine and sequence for strength and flexibility will make you feel energized and free.
If you are interested in yoga for immediate or extreme flexibility, work towards the more advanced poses that will have your muscles twisting, bedding and balancing in all directions.
Types Of Yoga For Flexibility
One of the best types of yoga for flexibility is Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga feels like you are doing a slow, deep stretching rather than getting ready for a practice. It is both relaxing and effective stretching at the same time. Instead of powering through a pose, yogis breathe deep and release more tension helping them to bend more forward, back, left or right.
These slow poses also allow you to gently bend and twist your body in crazy shapes and figures without hurting yourself. You will be surprised how many poses you can get into when you do Yin Yoga. It includes some of the best yoga stretches for flexibility and if you have never done yoga before, easy yoga poses for flexibility are the most gentle to begin with and can be a stepping stone to more active practices.
Vinyasa yoga is another great yoga style to try. It includes 6 different poses that you hold and release for the same amount of counts. Also known as power yoga, it is challenging and is better for yogis with athletic backgrounds to increase their flexibility. Based on the sequence of poses in Ashtanga yoga, power yoga builds upper-body strength as well as flexibility and balance. You flow from one pose to another.
Daily Yoga For Flexibility
Here are a few easy yoga poses for flexibility that you can start with.
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Begin your daily yoga routine for flexibility with a Mountain pose. Breathe in and bring your arms up over your head at the same time. Bend over your hips keeping your stomach in towards your pelvis and bring your arms down with you.
Focus on your exhale and keep reaching down until your finger tips touch the floor. Alternatively, you can hug the back of your ankles and hold on for more balance. Let your head dangle and feel the stretch along your spine, back of legs and hips.
This pose is used as a great test to see how far you can bend forward and how flexible your whole body is. If you can’t do the pose with straight legs, no worries. Just keep doing it every day and slowly until you are able to do it. This pose is also said to activate digestion, the liver and the kidneys.
Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
Getting in touch with your inner warrior is a perfect way to do yoga stretches for flexibility. The style of the pose works on strengthening and building your core muscles. It also helps to improve hip alignment.
From Mountain pose, bring your left foot behind you and point the toes out a little bit. Keep your feet hip distance apart and find your balance in the pose.
Place your hands on your hips and rotate to your left or right so that both sides are in line with the mat. You can now bend your right knee forward so that your thigh lowers down towards the floor.
Support yourself with the front of your heel and big toe. This stretches works on your ankles, calves and thigh muscles. It makes movement in your shoulders and hips loosen and opens up the chest.
Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
Cat-Cow Pose gently stretches the back and neck as well as the length of the spine. Put yourself on all fours. Make sure your knees are below your hips and the rests below the shoulders.
Your heads should be spread out a bit. Put your weight on your palms and fingers pushing away. As you roll your spine upwards and inward, drop your neck so that it hangs.
This is a great pose to do before downward dog and other poses. You need to get your wrists and hands ready for supporting your weight. The cat-cow pose is a great one to do for warm up that also works to increase circulation of spinal fluid and keep your spine flexible.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Put yourself on the mat with your stomach flat on the floor and your legs stretched out. Keep your toes pointed back and place your palms underneath the shoulders. Your elbows should almost be touching your body. Inhale, lift your neck up and push yourself up with your hands until your arms are outstretched.
Take your time in this backbend. Bend only when it is comfortable and don’t over do it if your body tells you not to. Stretch out the pose and keep your hips touching the floor. You will strengthen your back and legs, stretch out your chest and shoulder. Some people say that it even works on those glutes!
Morning Yoga For Flexibility
Benefits of a Morning Yoga Workout
Yoga is a perfect morning routine for flexibility. While everyone else is getting those last seconds of sleep, you can already get your body prepared by stretching it after a long night of rest. Here are a few easy-going stretches that also get you energised for the day ahead.
Low Lunge Pose – Anjeneyasana
The low lunge pose activates your knee tendons and ligaments. Start in a Mountain Pose and place your right foot forward. Lower your left leg to the floor keeping your knees in place.
Bring your left foot back until you reach a nice, deep pull. Bring your arms up to increase the challenge on your body and balance out through the stretch. Push your hands high up towards the ceiling and lower your knees more if you can. Make sure that your knees don’t lean into one side and stay straight.
Garland Pose – Malasana
Start in Mountain Pose and keep your feet on the floor. Bend your knees down and push them outward using your elbows. Bring your hands together and your elbows push your knees out to either side.
Drop your pelvis as low as you can and push out your knees as much as you can. Usually the length of your arms is the max you can go. This position is particularly comfortable because it activates all the core areas of your body and makes you focus on your balance.
This pose makes your groin, legs and lower back loosen and become more flexible. It also tones your abdomens. You need to engage your core throughout the whole pose, so there is no surprise there!
Yoga For Flexibility (min)
Looking for a 15 minute yoga for flexibility? Yoga by Candace is a fifteen minute yoga video that focuses on opening and loosening up the entire body. Candace begins with guided movements that help open the side body, chest, neck, spine, legs and upper body. By the end of the video, you will feel calm and energized for the rest of the day.
Check out the tutorial here:
Why not add a 20 minute yoga workout for flexibility? It is always nice to gradually increase your yoga practice by a few more minutes the more you get used to it. Sarah Beth Yoga channel on YouTube has over 919 thousand subscribers and we are not surprised.
She has a range of short yoga practice videos uploaded so that everyone can fit in a workout without committing to a long session. This particular sequence focuses on deep stretches for the hips and the chest. This is a perfect routine for you to add in the morning or just to release some tension.
Check out the workout here:
For a more intense 30 minute yoga workout for flexibility and strength, watch Fightmaster Yoga’s video. It is made for people looking to work a little harder during their practice. This yoga focuses on stretching but also fitness.
It is a great 30 minute yoga routine for flexibility and working out at the same time.
Check out the workout here:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, you can. All yoga poses focus on stretching and strengthening your muscles keeping them loose and limber as possible as our bodies age. It is highly recommended to do yoga and stretches everyday. We do not move so much any more in our daily lives, so any chance to get those muscles and ligaments moving is time well-spent.
If you are new to yoga, you can start with a practice that is slow and gentle – like Yin yoga. Once you get more confident, you can move into more fitness-related yoga which pushes your body further and increases flexibility too.
Everyone is different. Some people are born with flexibility and others are training into it. No matter how flexible or stiff you are, improvement is possible as long as you concentrate every day and practice.
The deeper you challenge the stretch the more flexible you get too. So even though some people would do yoga for a month, if their poses are gentle, they will not get as flexible as a person who did deeper stretches for a month. But keep in mind that you do not want to go overboard. Never push yourself past your limits. Yoga should always be comfortable and positively effective.
It works on breathing, movement and stretching muscles and ligaments all over the body. With yoga you can activate areas of the body that never get used and are hard to access. Practicing yoga everyday improves your strength, flexibility and focuses on your breathing. Yoga is a great way to stay stretched and meditate at the same time.