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Yoga for flexibility: Poses and sequences to increase your range of motion

The beauty of yoga is that it will increase your flexibility whatever your age or level of fitness may be. Yoga asanas are postures that rebalance the body. They bring strength to the weak areas of the body and softness to the tight spots. The truth is that were all born with the ability to naturally move our bodies and muscles through their complete range – babies and young children are an example of that. However, as we grow up, due to our sedentary lifestyle and limited movement of the body, we lose this ability. The good news is that we can totally reverse this stiffness and improve our range of motion through regular yoga practice.

Yoga practice can help increase flexibility by stretching and strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the body. By incorporating yoga poses into your regular routine, you can improve your range of motion and reduce muscle stiffness and tension. (Also read: Monday motivation: 9 simple Yoga exercises to do every day for beginners )

“Flexibility is essential for maintaining a healthy spine and avoiding back problems. Flexibility in the body promotes mental flexibility and this brings a sense of ease to life. If time is the constraint, we don’t necessarily need to spend 90 minutes to do a long practice, “says, Pooja Nidadavolu, Certified Hatha Yoga Teacher, Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Madurai, in an interview with HT Lifestyle. She further shared some short sequences of asanas (poses) that you can include in your daily life to reap the benefits of an agile and supple body:

  • Marjariasana (Cat pose): Cat Pose stretches your wrists, shoulders, and entire spine. It’s a great pose on its own and also prepares the body for the rest of the practice.
  • Gomukhasana (cow face pose): Releases stiffness in the shoulders, lengthens the spine and corrects bad posture. It also stretches the arms, ankles, hips, thighs and back.
  • Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle pose): This opens the deepest part of the hip muscles and is one of my personal recommendations to all my students to include this in their daily practice. It improves flexibility in the lower back, hips, thighs, groins and ankles.
  • Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward-facing dog): This one is almost a full-body stretch. It stretches your wrists, hamstrings, and back while also strengthening your wrists, arms, and shoulders.
  • Paschimottanasana: Stretches the hamstrings, hips and lengthens the entire spine. Massages and tones the abdominal and pelvic organs, helps reduce belly fat.
  • Purvottanasana (Inclined plane): This is the counter pose to Paschimottansana, which is an intense forward-bending pose. This pose balances the stretch while also strengthening arms, shoulders and the core.
  • Bhujangasana (Cobra pose): The spine receives a deep backward stretch. Each vertebra is pulled back thus giving the body a rich blood supply. Strengthens the back. It also opens up the shoulders and neck, corrects hunched shoulders and relieves pain.
  • Kapotasana (Pigeon pose): This is the king of all hip-opening asanas. Opens tight hips by stretching the thighs, groin, hip flexors and psoas muscle. Prepares for deeper back-bending asanas too.
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half spinal twist): Energises the spine and increases its elasticity through the twisting on either side. Boosts more bloody supply to the discs.
  • Padahastasana (Hands to feet pose): Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and thighs. Increases blood supply to the brain.

Talking to HT Lifestyle, Sneha Desai, Yin Yoga Expert, shared a few yoga poses that can help increase flexibility.

  • Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation): This is a series of poses that warm up the body and can help increase flexibility in the spine, hips and shoulders.
  • Triangle Pose: This pose stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, and spine. It can also help to improve flexibility in the shoulders and chest.
  • Upward-Facing Dog: This pose strengthens the upper body and can help to open up the chest and shoulders.
  • Yin Yoga: Helps an individual to calm the mind, body and breath allowing flexibility to increase along with building endurance.

In addition to individual poses, there are also sequences that can be practised to increase flexibility. A popular sequence is the Yoga Sun Salutation, which consists of a series of poses that flow smoothly from one to the next. This sequence can help to warm up the body, improve flexibility and increase strength.

It’s important to keep in mind that flexibility is not something that can be achieved overnight. It takes consistent practice and patience to see improvement. It’s also important to listen to your body and not push beyond your limits. If you feel pain or discomfort, stop the pose and release it.

Practising these asanas three to four times a week for 6 weeks will show a great improvement in flexibility. It is very important to breathe consciously while practising yoga. This not only keeps your mind in the present moment, it also allows you to practice the pose with ease and hold it comfortably. Remember to be patient, listen to your body and have fun with your practice.

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