Looking for the guide that will help you safely learn the most effective yoga poses for flexibility?
The flexibility of your body is very beneficial for your health overall. If you are one of the workout-obsessed buddies, you should know that without proper stretching your muscles can easily get strained, you can even get a long-term injury in a gym just because you ignored the importance of flexibility.
Besides that, yoga poses for flexibility helps many people to relieve stress and tension.
Before we jump into learning the poses, I wanted to make it clear that you don’t have to be flexible “naturally” to try yoga poses for flexibility. Our goal doing yoga is the process, not as much the result – you need to feel your muscles stretching, take deep breaths and balance your mind and body.
Also, another important note about yoga poses for flexibility for beginners – you should not tolerate extreme pain, you need to feel a healthy stretch and do it slowly, without pushing yourself to the limit.
If you are just a beginner, start holding each pose for 30 seconds. If you want to move to another level, try to keep each pose for about 1 minute.
Flexibility for beginners can be achieved yoga poses targeting three main zones of your body: hamstrings, hips, and back. This is exactly how I grouped the yoga flexibility poses in this post for you. I recommend you to rotate your focus on each zone for 2-3 days, this way you will see the progress much faster.
Yoga poses for flexibility: Hamstrings
What many yoga beginners don’t realize is that flexible hamstrings are the foundation of your yoga practice success. If your hamstrings are tight, you will have a hard time reaching perfection in soooo many yoga poses, plus, you’ll be exposed to higher injury risk.
The problem is that with tight hamstrings yogis tend to lock the pelvis, and this often results in a strained low back.
If you are a male yogi or you are over 40, chances are high that you’ll have tight hamstrings issue when you just start with yoga poses for beginners, so you should focus on this zone a little longer.
1. The pyramid pose (Parsvottanasana)
This pose is great to improve the flexibility of both – your hamstrings and your lower back. Your feet should be about three feet apart. The pose is called a pyramid because this is the shape your legs create. Make sure your both legs remain straight all the time. Your left hip should rotate forward so that your feet are parallel, facing forward.
2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This is a great pose to warm up your legs, shoulders, and chest before heading to more advanced stretches. Focus on your back when you do this pose, maybe a mirror might help you from the beginning. This pose is all about keeping a straight lower back.
With time your legs and hamstrings will become more flexible and it will be increasingly more easy for you to keep your back straight for this pose.
3. Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana)
One of the most important poses in my yoga poses for flexibility flow. Not everyone can reach their toes from the start. In fact, rarely anyone can do it only based on their natural flexibility. But practicing thing pose and stretching your hamstrings 3 times a week will bring you closer to your toes in no time!
When you work on this pose, do your best to keep your back straight as well, you will feel how this can increase the stretching effect on your hamstrings.
4. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
The same main requirement for this pose – keep your back straight as much as you can when you are leaning forward.
5. Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana)
The first rule for this pose is when you spread your legs, don’t go beyond the limit when you can’t keep them straight anymore. Everyone yogi has his own limit, it will be especially difficult for beginners. But keep working on the pose 2-3 times a week and you will feel the difference!
When you lean forward, again remember about a straight back. To keep it straight, you need to understand and try to implement: you are leaning at your hips, not at your waist. Give this signal from your mind to your body, and it will start listening to you better and your back will straighten up automatically.
You will be tempted to hunch your back in order to reach further. But this is not your goal, you are doing this pose to make the best stretching effect on your hamstrings, so do it the right way.
If someone can help you with this pose by giving gentle pressure on your back, it would be ideal, especially for beginners.
6. Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
The same old story with this pose, but it’s such a common mistake doing this bend and hunching the back… I can’t recommend highly enough having a mirror in front of you, while you start learning this pose. When you lean down, just reach that limit when your lower back begins to bend and stop there to stretch at that level. Whichever level it is, if you feel the stretching of your hamstrings and your back is straight – you are on the right track!
Yoga poses for Flexible Hips
Whether you are interested in doing those beautiful splits you’ve seen on Instagram to publish some of your own photos, or you just want to practice yoga and do it right, your hips flexibility is the essential part of so many poses!
If your life is sedative (well, the majority of professions nowadays are sedative, so it probably applies to you too), you will need to spend a little more time on this part of your body, because sitting down for many hours tightens your hip muscles.
7. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
This is a foundational pose and you probably will not reach the ground with your knees for a while practicing this yoga pose. But don’t worry, you are not alone! Just keep stretching your hips, remember to keep your back straight while you bend forward at the hips doing this pose.
8. Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
For this pose, you can keep your front leg at a 90-degree angle, but if you can go deeper and move a little to stretch more, it’s always good. While in this pose, you can also stretch your back by raising your arms backward.
This pose is stretching the inner hip muscles and thus is essential for those of you who want to do splits.
9. Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)
Now we move to your outer hip muscles and this pose is ideal for stretching them. You can do this pose in two variations. First, keep your shoulders back and feel the stretch in your lower back. Then head to the second position: keep your legs as they were, but your chest moves to the floor as much as you can, to move the stretch out of the back and increase the flexibility of the left hip. Do it on both sides of your body.
If you struggle with some aspects of this pose or feel discomfort in any part of your body, in this video Yoga instructor suggests easy tricks that will help you do the pose or adjust it a little for your body type or flexibility level.
10. Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana)
This pose will really help you to open up your hips. When you do this pose, avoid a common failure – it’s when your butt is way behind your knees line. It will be totally impossible for you to put them in the same line, but imagine that it is possible when you do this pose, visualize that line so that your muscles receive the right signals and get closer to the perfect pose.
Your thighs should be parallel to the ground, while your legs … well, the ideal angle is 90 degrees, so keep it as close to it as you can.
Yoga Poses for your Back Flexibility
Yoga poses for your back flexibility are a great way to prevent chronic pains in the back… However, if you already have some known back problems, before giving any exercise for your back, consult with your doctor as some back injuries will not just go away with time and can be pretty serious.
11. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
When you are in this pose, focus on keeping your hips and lower ribs (yes, you can just try!) on the floor. Otherwise, you might fall into the impression that this pose is super easy to do. Well, that might be if you are doing it in the wrong way.
A quick warning, just in case: this pose is definitely not for pregnant women, and if you had a back injury, don’t do this pose too.
12. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
In the second part of the previous video, the yoga instructor showed you the differences between the Cobra pose and upward facing dog pose. As you can see, your arms should be completely straight for the second pose, and your hips should not be touching the floor. Your legs are not touching the ground, only the tops of your feet. I didn’t forget to add the video for this pose, the previous video for the 11th pose covers the Upward Facing Dog too, it’s up there.
13. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Even if you have some yoga experience, you might be struggling with this pose for a while. In this video, you will see some adjustments for different levels of flexibility so you can make this pose easier or more advanced.
14. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
This is pose is therapeutic for osteoporosis and other degenerative processes in your spine. Don’t try to lift your neck up, you can even get an injury doing this. Just let it go naturally along the spine’s arch. Also, pay attention to your belly when you are in this pose, it should not be going forward.
15. Backbending, Urdhva Dhanurasana
There are so many variations of backbends, for any level of flexibility. With increasing back flexibility, you’ll be able to do higher bridges.
16. King Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
This is not a pose which you’ll be able to do perfectly well in your first, second … multiple yoga sessions. To reach the top of your head with your toes, you need a very flexible back. But this pose is very good even in its incomplete form when you are just trying to reach the head, your back is stretching a lot! When doing this pose, try to keep your knees close to hip and don’t let them turn outwards.
My very last recommendation when you work on yoga poses for flexibility is to be patient and don’t overstretch your muscles too fast, don’t tolerate extreme pain because when you do it, you are actually damaging your muscles and can end up with serious injuries. The more patient, consistent and gentle you are with your body on this journey, the more impressive will be your flexibility improvement.