No matter what you’re current fitness level is, performing yoga is a great way to stay in great physical shape, and also to maintain great mental health. This is because yoga is not just a group of exercises but so much more… It’s really a practice that can potentially provide unique and lasting benefits for total body health and wellness.
Some of the things that yoga is especially known for is potentially helping to reduce stress and inflammation in the body, assisting with aches and pains including lower back pain, helping to strengthen muscles, and improving flexibility.
The other intriguing thing about yoga is that, although at first you may feel intimidated to begin, yoga is absolutely something that can be learned relatively quickly – and it’s a great practice that you can easily do from home, with some simple equipment and guided workouts.
In this article, we’ll give you a simple routine that you can do right now, including yoga stretches for flexibility. Feel free to do this routine multiple times a week to help ease tension in the body, improve deep breathing, reduce anxiety levels, and bring a sense of mental calmness.
The more flexible you are, the less likely you are to get hurt when performing other physical activity, so these moves are also a great way to support total body health and strength. Plus, they can be performed in a short time period, so they’re easy to fit into busy schedules!
Before You Start: A Great Yoga Mat
Before you begin any yoga stretches for flexibility, the one thing we highly recommend is a superior yoga mat. You need a safe surface in order to perform your yoga exercises, that provides great cushion to all of your joints – to avoid injury and also make sure your experience is as enjoyable as possible.
In order to be free to focus on your breathing and do the movements correctly for the most benefits, invest in a high-quality yoga mat like the 310 Gym Yoga Mat. What makes this mat unique is that it’s extra-large and super-thick and cushiony, so it’s extra-comfortable for your floor exercises.
While it’s made of a soft material, it’s also nice and firm, so it supports your joints and lightens the blow on your knees while exercising. Plus, as an added bonus, it comes with a carrying handle, for easy transporting.
Next: Breathing Correctly
The next thing you want to do before you start your yoga stretching exercises for flexibility is to understand how to breathe in order to clear your mind, and get into the best state to begin.
The practice of controlling your breath during yoga is called “pranayama”. To break it down, “prana” means “life force”, (or breath that sustains the body), and “ayama” means “expansion” or to draw out. Though there are different kinds of yoga breathing techniques geared towards specific goals, the basic premise is the same…
When utilizing correct breathing during yoga stretches for flexibility, you want to bring your total awareness to your breath. As you breathe in and out, you want to focus on the act of your breathing, bringing your attention completely to the present moment. You want to inhale deeply, into your belly, and then exhale in a slow and purposeful motion.
Continuing to focus on your breathe and ensuring it doesn’t quicken too much as you do your yoga exercises, will help ensure that you’re getting the most benefit from them in mind, body, and spirit.
Yoga Stretches For Flexibility At-Home Routine
Now that you know how to begin with yoga, even if you can’t go into a studio or gym right now, that’s okay… Know that you aren’t alone! You can ask any of your yoga-directed questions to our Health Coaches in the 310 Community on Facebook, so you can feel confident in your practice.
To help alleviate the stress from everyday living and busy schedules, try the basic yoga routine, below… Remember that as you do the following routine, stretching should be felt in your body without being painful. If you start to feel pain, back off and reduce the stretch a bit!
Also, as discussed, remember to breathe deeply in each position… in through the nose, out through the mouth. And hold each pose for a minimum of 30 seconds, but up to 3 minutes, based on your comfort level.
Yoga Stretching Exercises For Flexibility
1) Standing Forward Fold
Focus: Mainly targets the hamstrings and the lower back.
Tip for Success: You can fold your arms, grabbing each elbow and gently swing side-to-side.
2) Halfway Lift
Focus: Targets hamstrings and lengthens spine.
Tip for Success: Keeping your back straight, bring your hands down to your shins.
3) Standing Forward Fold With Shoulder Opener
Focus: Same stretch benefits as forward fold, plus shoulder flexibility.
Tip for Success: If you cannot clasp your hands together, hold a towel or band.
4) Downward Dog
Focus: Stretches hamstrings and calves.
Tip for Success: For an easier stretch, bend the knees slightly.
5) Lunges (both legs)
Focus: Stretches hips.
Tip for Success: Add a deeper stretch by laying both forearms on the floor on the inside of the front leg.
6) Pigeon Pose
Focus: Stretches hips.
Tip for Success: Support your body with your arms if you’re not able to fully sit into the pose.
7) Butterfly Pose
Focus: Stretches adductors, abductors and groin.
Tip for Success: Deepen the stretch by grabbing the feet and pressing elbows into the inner part of lower thigh/knee area. To reduce stretch, add support under the knees.
8) Spinal Twist
Focus: Stretches spine and shoulders.
Tip for Success: Twist starting at the bottom of the spine, not in the shoulders.
9) Cobra Pose
Focus: Stretches chest, shoulders, abdomen.
Tip for Success: Start with half cobra pose if needed for beginners flexibility.
10) Child’s Pose
Focus: Stretches hips and spine (especially lower spine).
Tip for Success: Place arms by your side for a completely relaxing pose, or add a bit of a stretch by bringing arms stretched out in front of you with your palms actively pressing down into the ground, with all fingers spread out evenly.
Did you enjoy this workout?! Let us know in the comments, below! Want more easy, at-home workouts for your healthy lifestyle? Join the 310 Nutrition Community on Facebook to get routines for all fitness levels, every week! Plus, discover more articles on achieving your health, nutrition and fitness goals on the 310 Blog.