There is a common misconception that you need to be ridiculously flexible, or double jointed, to begin to enjoy the benefits of practicing yoga. Many yoga newcomers fear that they won’t be able to gain any benefit from yoga because their bodies simply can’t get into most poses.
How do you think those yoga veterans gained that impressive flexibility? Through regular yoga practice of course! In fact, there are a host of simple, beginner moves that will not only help you build a solid base of strength, but that will also do wonders for improving your posture, eliminating pain and dramatically improving flexibility.
If you sit for long periods of the day at the office, or if you lead a primarily sedentary life, your muscles are likely tight and your body is probably suffering from imbalances. Incorporating exercises that promote flexibility can help reduce pain, help your muscles move freely through their full range of motion and reduce your chances for injury during physical activity. So let’s take a look at 8 great yoga poses that you can begin practicing today for improve flexibility and mobility:
Downward Facing Dog
This is one yoga pose that even those who don’t practice are familiar with. It is simple, it doesn’t require a class, or even a mat to perform, but it yields big benefits for the practitioner. Downward facing dog improves flexibility from the ankles, through the entire posterior chain and improves mobility up through the shoulders and all the way down through the wrists. Downward dog may be one of the first yoga poses you were exposed to, but it delivers enough benefit in terms of strength, flexibility and mobility to continue performing it for as long as you practice yoga.
Standing Forward Bend/Hands to Feet
This is another “beginner” pose that requires nothing but a small space of floor in your apartment or piece of grass outside to perform. Begin by stretching your hands up toward the sky before progressing into the forward bend and get down as low as you can (until you feel a good stretch throughout your hamstrings and back). Your abs don’t need to touch your upper legs and you don’t need to touch your nose to your shins to reap the benefits of this pose. Get as low into the pose as you can and hold for 30 seconds, your flexibility will improve with practice.
The mountain pose doesn’t look very “bendy” but regular practice on both sides can open up the hips and greatly improve mobility through the upper back and shoulders. As an added bonus, your balance will improve with the mountain pse which will also help with pain free movement.
The seated twist improves flexibility through the hips and hamstrings and opens up the spine. This simple pose is great for improving posture and improving overall mobility and athletic performance.
The warrior pose has tremendous full body health benefits. Not only does this pose promote flexibility from the ankles and lower legs, through the hips and up the spine all the way through the shoulders, it also builds lower body strength, core stability and balance.
Depending upon where you perform your yoga, a mat might make this move a little more comfortable, but you don’t need anything else to practice this powerful pose. The cobra improves flexibility in the ankles, hips, lower back and neck. Breathe deeply throughout the entirety of the pose and hold for at least 30 seconds for maximum benefit. Performing the cobra pose will also help strengthen the chest and arms.
Practicing the pigeon pose regularly can dramatically improve flexibility in the quadriceps, hips, ankles and spine. This pose also does wonders for improving stability and mobility during athletic activity.
The bridge is a pose that takes a little getting used to, but that produces impressive results. Performing the bridge will improve your flexibility throughout your upper and lower back and neck as well as in your core and hips. You’ll also see improvements in strength in your upper and lower back, you’ll develop a stronger core and more powerful legs with the bridge.
These 8 moves can literally be performed anywhere, without a studio or expensive gear and they all produce powerful benefits. If you are interested in a more flexible, limber and pliable body try adding one, a few or all of them to your yoga practice today.