The 10 Best Yoga Poses for Flexibility: Asanas to Make You More Flexible

Geoffrey Lions
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Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

The Forward Fold is the perfect pose to stretch the hamstrings, hips, and lower back. It is also great for relaxing the mind and connecting with yourself. This pose is one of the foundations of most other yoga poses.

How to:

Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart. If your heels roll in or your feet roll out, you may want to place a rolled up towel under your feet.

Press your palms flat against your thighs, moving your hands down your thighs as you fold forward.

As your hands move down your thighs, feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

Continue want down as far as you are able with good form, breathing slowly and paying attention to your body.

Turn your palms to face downward, and let your arms fall into the creases of your legs.

Stay in this pose for 1-5 minutes before slowly standing up.

Warnings:

Be careful not to over-arch your back.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

The first of many yoga poses for flexibility, Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) stretches the arms, stomach, thighs, and back of the legs. Sitting tall with straight legs, hinge forward from the hips, engaging the core and bringing the torso down toward the floor. Expand through the chest and let the head and neck hang heavy. If possible, sweep the arms out to the sides and position the hands on the mat with the index fingers pointing forward for an extended stretch through the arms and shoulders.

Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)

Cat-Cow pose requires flexibility in the spine, but is a relaxing and grounding posture. The cat-cow stretch is also very therapeutic if it’s done in a smooth, controlled way, which shouldn’t be too hard for beginner yogis.

Begin on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.

Exhale, rolling your spine up and forward, tucking your chin gently towards your chest.

Inhale, allowing your spine to round in a posterior curve, dropping your chin towards the tops of your thighs.

Repeat 4-5 times, connecting with the gentle movements of your spine.

When you’re ready to come out of the position, inhale, walking your hands towards the front of your mat, or into Child’s Pose.

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra pose is the first pose to do before you start with your deep stretches. You can think of Cobra pose as your warm-up exercise. This pose helps you stretch your back and shoulders. It is believed that Cobra pose can lower your blood pressure and stress levels.

Remember to always inhale on the way up, and exhale on the way down. This pose should be repeated five times.

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

The Bow Pose stretches your back, legs and hamstrings. It also leads to an improved sense of balance and improved circulation. This will help flush the stagnant blood out of the body, further reducing your back pain.

It is considered by many experts to be one of the best yoga poses for stretching and improving the flexibility of the back. It helps to improve posture, as well as build body awareness. The bow pose is exceptionally good for stretching the abdomen, shoulders, and hamstrings.

A great way to get into the Bow pose is to start by sitting in the middle of a room on your yoga mat. Put a folded blanket behind you near the edge one foot away from the edge of the mat. Make sure both of your feet are firmly on the mat. Keeping your back straight, exhale and roll all the way down to the blanket. Stretch your arms to your legs and now bring them back to your sides. Make sure to keep your fingers and hands open. Press your hands firmly into the mat, and lift your chest towards the ceiling by arching your back as high as possible. Try to spread your arms and legs as wide as possible and try to keep your pelvis in one line. Make sure your neck is level with your back. Feel your back and legs stretch and hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.

King Dancer Pose (Natarajasana)

> HOW TO: Standing position, inhale. Exhale, lift your right foot off the floor. Stretch your arms out and turn your palms up. Balance on one foot, and bring your arms up above your head. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

This can be a little tricky at first, especially if the waist of your raised leg is a little bit tight. To help with that, you can raise your arms out in front of you on an inhale, and then come back up over your head on an exhale.

You can also keep your eyes focused on a point in front of you, instead of looking up at the ceiling. You’ll want to keep your core and hips engaged throughout the duration of the pose, and think of the raised leg as part of your body.

> BENEFIT: The King Dancer Pose is a great hip opener that stretches your quadriceps and your hamstrings, but it’s also good for your shoulders, chest, and arms. Not only will you be less stiff in a few minutes, you’ll also look like a graceful dancer.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Why it’s good for flexibility:

Bridge pose improves flexibility in the hamstrings as well as the spine. It’s effective for back pain and improving circulation to all of the muscles in the lower body.

How to do it (if you’re brand new):

Begin in a supine position, lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Bend your arms so your forearms and upper thighs are in contact with each other.

Keeping your spine flat, allow your hips to begin to straighten. You will notice the arms begin to separate from the legs. Keep your chest lifted throughout, and gradually increase your range of motion by allowing your hips to straighten as far as they comfortably can.

Press through your shoulders to your heels and with each inhale, bring your chest closer to your thighs. Hold for 5 breaths.

Release your arms and legs from each other and then slowly roll back down to the floor.

Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)

This common pose is also known as the butterfly pose. It is suited to improve your lower back flexibility. It is perfect to relax after a long day.

You need a Yoga Mat for this pose.

How to Do the Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)

You can start the butterfly pose by sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position. Your back should be straight as you sit. Pose your hands to your lap as you bring your soles together, your knees should be locked.

Once you are in this position, look back and feel the stretch in your lower back and spine. Hold your pose for about 30-60 seconds and take many deep breaths.

The butterfly pose (Baddha Konasana) releases tension from the lower part of the back. The pose is great if you have lower back pain.

Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)

A pose commonly known as the shoulder stand, the shoulder stand pose stretches your body in many directions. This asana also improves body posture and improves your blood circulation.

You need a Yoga Mat for this asana.

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Start in a seated position with the legs straight in front of you and your spine tall. Extend your arms forward and interlace your fingers. Inhale, then exhale while rounding your spine, gazing toward the floor.

This pose strengthens the chest, throat, and arms. It’s also effective for backache, fatigue, sciatica, depression, and stress. It’s great for those suffering from posture problems and alignment issues. Since it stretches the spine, it also helps with digestive problems and constipation.

Reclining Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Benefits: This asana helps to relieve stress on the spine, hips, and knees. It is ideal for people who spend much of their day sitting up straight and slouching. The twist also helps with digestion and relieves tension in the shoulders.

Steps: Starting from a supine position, slide the right knee toward the right side of the body. Make sure that the right knee is off of the floor as much as possible. Bend the left knee and place the left foot flat on the floor. Exhale, and twist the torso toward the left knee. Reach through the right leg to the right, extending the left arm up. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and then switch the arms and legs, and repeat on the opposite side.

Important: Make sure that you do not put any pressure on the knees, so lift them up slightly if you need to. Make sure that the weight is not on the shoulders, so use the hand to support the weight.

Tip: Try to look as far over the left shoulder as possible.