These 11 Yoga poses for flexibility are great for beginners wanting to increase their flexibility. I often hear people say that they aren’t flexible enough for yoga, but the truth is, we do yoga to become flexible! While there are many other benefits of yoga besides flexibility, it is a life-changing side effect.
11 Yoga Poses for Flexibility
There are many contraindications (including pregnancy) for yoga poses, which is why consulting your doctor before practicing yoga is essential. You should also have a certified yoga teacher that learn and practice under in person. These poses are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
These poses could be done as a sequence or as independent poses. Make sure you do one-sided poses on both sides!
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Try to connect your stomach to your thighs, bending your knees if needed. You can bend your knees a little or a lot. Pull yourself gently into the pose by holding your legs or by using the stickiness of your mat. Another nice alternative is holding onto opposite elbows and dangling, perhaps swaying gently side to side.
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
In a low lunge, your back knee is on the ground. Make sure that your front knee does not extend past your ankle. Your back foot can have toes tucked under or the top of your foot can rest on the mat. Press your back shin firmly into the ground (or your toes if you have your toes tucked under) to help stabilize yourself in the pose. You can also widen your stance a little to help with your balance.
Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)
Keep both legs and your spine straight as you lean forward. If your back starts to round, come back up a little so that you can comfortably keep a straight spine. Keep your hips in one line by drawing your hip of the front leg back and your hip of the back leg forward. You can keep your palms together resting at heart center or try reverse namaste with palms together behind your back. The advantage of reverse namaste is that you can easily feel if your spine is straight.
Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
Open your chest as much as possible. The goal is to have your shoulders in one line. However, don’t worry about your hips being stacked. If your top hip comes forward a little, that’s okay! Some teachers will insist that you pull that top hip back, but it can be very harmful to your lower back, especially if you have a history of low back problems. I was adjusted once by a well-meaning teacher that gently pulled my top hip back and I could barely walk for a week!
Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
As your body warms up, you will find that you can bring your heels closer to the mat. Elongate your spine by bringing your hips up and back in space. Keep your chin slightly tucked and bring your gaze to your thighs or maybe even your stomach.
Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
You have probably heard of this pose as Butterfly Pose. One nice variation of this pose is opening your feet as if you are opening a book. This can change the stretch for some people and often feels quite nice.
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana)
This can be a very challenging pose. If you feel the stretch before you lean forward, I would recommend staying upright and place your hands on the ground behind you to help sit up tall. If you do feel comfortable coming forward, you can use a bolster (or two!) to support your upper body.
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Use your hand behind you to help you sit up as tall as possible. On your inhales lengthen your spine and on your exhales deepen your twist.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Your hands are placed under your shoulders, but they aren’t doing the work. Your back is doing the work in Cobra Pose. In fact, you should be able to raise your hands off the ground and keep your upper body in the same position.
Sleeping Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Your hips should be in an even line. You can use a block or blanket under your hip to help stabilize you. Using a block in front of you to rest your head on is also a nice modification.
Eye of the Needle (Sucirandhrasana)
If you can’t reach behind your leg to guide your leg forward, hold onto your knee and ankle or the leg that is crossing over. If holding behind your leg doesn’t give you a deep enough stretch, bend that leg more hold over your shin.
Remember that flexilibilty takes time. Doing these poses a few times a week for several weeks will give you the biggest benefit. After doing these 11 yoga poses for flexibility I would recommend doing Savasana Pose for 5-10 minutes to seal your practice.