‘I’m not flexible enough to do yoga’ is something I hear all the time (mostly from my dad), and honestly? That’s like saying ‘I’m too sick to go to the doctor’! It doesn’t matter how flexible you are when you step on to your yoga mat. What matters is that yoga can help you to build flexibility over time – especially in our pesky hamstrings.
Maybe you’re a runner, maybe you have a job that requires a lot of sitting, maybe you’re hamstrings are just naturally a bit tight. Whatever the reason, yoga can help. Here are our top 5 yoga poses to help you limber up.
Forward bend (Uttanasana)
Stand at the top of your yoga mat, lift you arms up over head and start to fold forward, hinging at the hips. Keep a soft bend in the knees here, and either bring your hands towards the mat or to blocks. Again, keep as much of a bend in the knees as you need to here. Over time, your body will stretch and begin to feel safer, and lengthening the legs will come more naturally. For now, bent knees are A-ok.
Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Check out Laura’s blog post all about Downward dog here for more details about this posture. From your hands and knees, lift you hips up and back towards the ceiling, coming into an upside down V shape. Just like in your forward fold, keep knees bent here as you draw your chest towards your thighs, tailbone towards the ceiling. Don’t worry about getting your heels to the ground, just focus on creating length in the spine.
This one can be intense, so move softly and gently here – no forcing. From a standing position at the top of your mat, step your right foot back behind you (about 3 feet distance), both toes pointing forward. Bring your hands to your hips and exhale to hinge forward at your hips and fold over the front leg, keeping both legs straight. You can either keep your hands on your hips, or bring palms to your mat or to blocks. If you don’t have blocks, books can be a great at-home alternative!
Wide-legged forward fold (Prasarita Padottanasana A)
From standing at the top of your mat, step back to face the long side of your mat, feet wide (if you spread your arms out, ankles should be roughly under wrists here). Bring your hands to your hips and exhale to fold forward, hands coming to blocks (or books) or to the mat.
Modified Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
For this one, you’ll need a yoga strap – if you don’t have a strap, a belt does the same job. Come to lay on your back and loop the strap around your right foot. Straighten the leg and start to draw it towards your body. That left foot can be planted on the mat for more support, or if you prefer you can extend the leg long. Again, no forcing or pushing here, just working slowly and mindfully with your body. Use your inhales to lengthen, and your exhales to go a bit deeper.