5 Gentle Everyday Yoga Stretches for Flexibility

I get a lot of enquiries from people asking how they can improve their mobility/ flexibility…my answer is always yoga! These five gentle stretches target all areas of the body and can be done on a daily basis: either first thing in the morning, just before bed or perhaps even on your lunch break at work! By pairing the movement with the breath, these poses can also be a great relaxation technique if you if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.

The idea is to stretch, but not to strain. Remember, be gentle with yourself!

Cat/Cow  

Marjaiasana/Bitilasana

IMG_7433.PNG

Start in tabletop (on the hands and knees) ensuring the shoulders are directly above the wrists and the hips are above the knees. The weight should be evenly distributed throughout the body.

As you inhale, arch the back by lifting the head up, and dipping the belly. On your exhale, hollow out the belly, round the spine and drop the head.

Repeat 4-8 rounds, moving with the breath.

This can help with…

  • stress relief (stimulation of parasympathetic nervous system)
  • menstrual cramps
  • digestive issues
  • lower back pain
  • increasing flexibilty in the back, chest and neck

Thread the Needle (arms):

Parsva Balasanaimg_7385-1.jpg

Starting in tabletop again, thread the right arm across the body and through the gap between the left wrist and left kneecap. The shoulder may or not reach the floor depending on your flexibility. Gently push into the left palm to deepen the stretch.

Hold for 4-8 breaths then repeat on the other side.

This can help with…

  • stress/anxiety relief (having the head below the heart is a naturally calming position for the body)
  • digestive issues
  • upper back pain
  • increasing flexibilty in the back, chest and shoulders

img_7392.jpg

Low Lunge 

Anjaneyasana

From either a downward dog or tabletop position, step your right foot forward and place it between the hands, lining up your right knee over your right ankle.

Lower your left knee to the floor. Ensure the hips are square (i.e. not twisting out to one side) and the back foot is relaxed. Lift the chest and rest the hands on the thigh without leaning.

Imagine a force drawing your head up the the ceiling and hips down to the floor. You can bring the arms up over the head for a more challenging variation of the pose, testing balance and giving the lower back a deeper stretch.

Hold for 6-10 breaths then repeat on the other side.

This can help with…

  • Strengthening quad and glute muscles
  • Improving flexibility in the hip flexors and gluten
  • Sciatica relief
  • Improving balance

Halfway Standing Forward Fold

Ardha Uttanasanaimg_7389-1.jpg

Start with the feet together, bent knees, hands either side of the feet.

Elevate the chest, lengthen the spine and bring the palms onto the shins or the thighs. Take the gaze forward without compressing the neck.

If you find that you can’t keep the back straight, place the hands a little higher up the legs so that you can still feel the stretch in the backs of the legs, but the upper body isn’t compromised.

Hold for 4-8 breaths.

Option to take the hands to the floor for the full version of the pose, still being mindful of the back.

This can help with…

  • Improving flexibility of glutes, hamstrings and calves
  • Strengthening posterior chain
  • Improving core stability
  • Aiding digestion

Eye of the Needle (Legs)

img_7379.jpg

Sucirandhrasana

Lie on your back with the knees bent and soles of the feet on the floor.

Lift the right leg, flex the foot and place it onto the left thigh. Elevate the left foot off the floor.

Take one hand through the gap between the legs, and the other hand round the side of the left leg. Interlace the fingers behind the left knee, and on an exhale draw it towards the chest to deepen the stretch.

Hold for 4-8 breaths and repeat with the other leg.

Option to rest the foot of the supporting leg up agains a wall to deepen the stretch.

This can help with…

  • Stress/ anxiety relief
  • Improving flexibility of glutes, hips and lower back
  • Hip pain relief
  • Lower back pain relief
  • Easing leg cramps

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s