Whether you want to improve your flexibility, and your strength, or just carve out some time for yourself in the day, yoga is an excellent practice. Yoga is a low-impact exercise that allows you to connect to your body and help ease the mind.
Although, knowing how to start your own practice can feel like you are drowning in poses. While many influencers and professionals like to challenge themselves with difficult acrobatic poses, there are many basic poses that everyone can benefit from.
Below are 7 of the best yoga stretches to try for yourself. Whether you have never even heard of a Downward Dog or you want to know how to challenge yourself, we have got you covered!
Child’s Pose is a great place to begin your routine as it opens the shoulders and can loosen up the hips. You can use it as a rest pose in between other stretches to give your legs and back a nice break.
How To Do It
Begin on all fours in a tabletop position. Bring your big toes together and gently sit back on your heels with your torso resting on your thighs. Stretch your arms out in front of you with your palms facing the floor. Make sure to extend your arms as far as they can go. Relax for 5-10 breaths.
For those who find it painful to sit so far back on the heels, fold a small towel and place it between the calves and thighs for slight elevation.
Bring your knees together, lay your forehead on the tops of your knees, and extend your hands back towards your feet to open up your lower back.
If you find that your back, hips, and neck are stiff during certain movements the Cat/Cow Pose is excellent for warming up the spine. This stretch is awesome for relieving the stress of the day making it effective in a nighttime routine.
How To Do It
Begin on all fours in the tabletop position with your knees underneath the hips and the hands underneath the shoulders. Your spine will naturally enter a neutral position. As you exhale, round your back to the ceiling and slowly let your head release towards the floor. Stretching the entire spine.
On the inhale you are going to enter the Cow Pose by lifting your head, chest, and butt to the ceiling. Only move to feel a slight stretch. Alternate between Cat and Cow at your own pace, following your breath for 5-10 reps.
If you find leaning on your wrists to be painful, bring yourself down to your forearms for extra comfort. A folded pillow might provide some padding for sore knees. Keep your neck in a neutral position during the movements if your neck is bothering you.
Downward Dog is probably one of the most known poses in yoga. It helps to open up the shoulders, calves, hamstrings, and even the arches of the feet. This stretch is where you begin to work your muscles and really get your blood pumping.
How To Do It
Begin on all fours in a tabletop position. Ensuring the hands are beneath the shoulders and the knees are beneath the hips. As you exhale, lift your knees off the floor, facing your hips towards the ceiling.
Reach for the floor with your heels and try to keep your knees from locking up as much as possible. Keep your head between your arms while you press through your fingertips and look between your calves.
Many Yogi’s prefer to keep a slight bend in their knees to protect the hamstrings or have elevation under their hands until they gain strength in the shoulders.
This pose is brilliant for anyone who feels they need a good wake-up in the morning.
Now it is time to open up the hips. The Pigeon Pose is great for stretching the hamstrings, glutes, and groin. You are going to want to take this stretch slowly and only go as far as you can.
How To Do It
Begin in your Downward Dog Pose and bring your right leg back behind you before bringing your right knee forward to your right wrist. Twist your right foot to face your left arm. Slowly, lower yourself to the group with your shin perpendicular to the front of the mat or whatever position is most comfortable.
You don’t want to have too much pressure on your right knee. Your left leg should be straight out behind you with your toes facing backward. Hold for 5-10 breaths and really feel the stretch in the hips.
Again, if you feel this stretch to be too intense, use a rolled-up towel and place it under your pelvis.
Many people use this stretch in mobility routines before running or weight training to open up the hip flexors before training.
When it comes to toning the legs, Warrior 1 is one of the most popular stretches. This pose helps open up the hips and shoulders while engaging the leg and core muscles.
How To Do It
Begin by standing at one end of the mat with a wide stance. Rotate the hips and torso towards your right foot and take a nice inhale. As you exhale, bend the right knee to stack over your right ankle. Keep your left leg solid.
Extend your arms upright making sure to not overstretch the back. Keep your tailbone tucked in. Your left foot should remain parallel to the back of the mat. Hold for 5-10 breaths before moving onto the other side.
Put your hands on your hips if you’re having problems bending your front knee to a 90-degree angle. You can concentrate on the strength of your legs using this. You can also lower your hands to the floor to lessen the intensity of the stretch.
When you need a stretch that works practically every muscle in the body, you need to include the Triangle Pose into your routine. Your hips, hamstrings, calves, chest, shoulders, and spine are all stretched in this standing position. Additionally, it works wonders for ankle, quad, and knee strength.
How To Do It
Begin by facing the long end of the mat in a wide stance. Raise your arms to shoulder height with your palms facing the floor. Face your right foot and rotate the food until facing the front of the mat. As you inhale, face the right leg and hinge forward. Reach towards an imaginary wall at the top of your mat.
When you can no longer hinge forward, exhale, and extend your torso over your right leg. Hinging from the hips. Turn your body to the left while placing your right hand on the outside of your right foot, your right shin, or your right ankle.
Make sure both shoulders are in a straight line as you raise your left arm toward the ceiling. By softly looking up at your left hand, maintain a neutral stance for your head. On the opposite side, repeat.
For beginners, you may want to place a block to reach instead of the ground. This lessens the intensity of the stretch.
The Tree Pose is one of the easiest balancing poses to master. It helps you get in tune with your mind, spirit, and body while getting a nice stretch.
How To Do It
Begin in a neutral standing position, engaging the leg and core muscles for balance. As you inhale, lift your chest, and as you exhale draw your shoulder blade back. Looking straight ahead, find a spot to gaze at on the wall.
Rest your hands on your hips and raise your right foot high onto your left thigh or shin. Do not rest your foot on your knee. When you find your balance, extend your arms above your head, palms together. Hold for 5-10 breaths before moving to the other side.
If you have never done a balancing pose before then you may find it better to practice a few inches from a wall. The fact that the wall is close by gives you confidence that you won’t lose your balance even if you don’t contact it. But if you start to sway, just extend your hand and balance yourself again.
Another tip is to really focus on your pelvic position. This is where your balance comes from and requires training to master.
Yoga is an excellent practice that will help you strengthen your body, improve your flexibility and mobility, and increase your mind-body connection.
Anyone with any level of fitness can begin their yoga journey with a few simple moves. Take the time to get to know your body through breathing and stretching exercises.
Above are 7 of the best yoga stretches that you can try for yourself. With slight modifications, you can begin to transform your body and challenge yourself in ways you never thought possible.
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