Flexibility improves circulation, muscle health, and endurance, can help prevent injury, and perhaps even ward off arthritis and osteoporosis. Becoming more flexible involves daily routines and exercises designed to stretch the muscles and joints. You can start with yoga to gain more flexibility and increase range of movements.
Perform Yoga at home
Yoga is an ideal daily practice to increase all over body strength and gain flexibility; as nearly every pose increases flexibility with practice. It is customizable to your fitness level and can be as easy or intense as you need it to be, all while increasing your flexibility.
- Poses like the the Forward Bend adapt to your current level of flexibility (that is, you only go as far forward as you can), but each time you practice them your flexibility level increases just a bit. The change will be subtle and hard to notice at first, but keep at it and eventually you will notice a drastic change in your flexibility.
Try this simple routine daily.
It takes only moments from start to finish, and is a great way to begin working on overall body flexibility. Try to hold each pose for five to ten breaths before moving into the next:
- Start with Mountain Pose. Stand tall with your feet together and hands extended at your sides, palms angled downward, and eyes closed. This is a very basic pose, but standing tall stretches your back, shoulders, and arms.
- Lower into Child’s Pose. When sitting on your feet with your knees touching the floor, lower your upper body down onto the ground with your arms extended in front of you. Stay in this pose as long as desired.
- Raise into Downward-Facing Dog. Stand from child’s pose and with feet hip-distance apart, bend at the waist and place hands on the floor in front of you. Your body should hinge at a ninety-degree angle If this pose is hard for you; spread your feet a bit wider.
Learn more to target more specific areas.
If you have a particular flexibility goal, like doing the splits or touching your toes; there are specific yoga practices that can help. Consider joining a yoga class or following a video program to learn more poses and become more flexible.
Learn about breathing techniques.
Yoga is about mind-body relaxation and discipline, and one major element of that process is proper breathing. In fact, proper breathing during yoga can further the stretch itself by relaxing the body and increasing oxygen flow to the muscles under focus.
- To get an idea of how this works; raise your arms as high as you can above your head, and then take a deep breath. Notice how your arms naturally extend even higher during the breath.
- Breathe in through your nose as you stretch, and out through your mouth as you hold the stretch. Your abdomen, not your chest, should expand as you inhale.