Not flexible? You’re not alone. There are many factors that contribute to a less-than-bendy body, from genetics to the weather. Unfortunately, age and gender play a role, men and older people tend to be less flexible than women and younger people. But that does not mean you should rule out yoga, there are moves that will help you feel calmer, sleep better, and yes, get more flexible.
There are many people that have been avoiding yoga because they are not flexible, but these are the same people that should be practicing yoga. Yoga increases concentration, strengthens muscles, reduces stress, and will allow for better posture.
Before we get started, there are some things to remember. Maintain a smooth and even breath throughout the poses and don’t hold any pose longer than you are physically able. As you gain more practice, you will be able to lengthen and deepen each pose. One sign that you held a pose for too long is that you do not have enough energy to come out of the position with “grace and integrity”.
These are some poses that should be practiced by those of us who are flexibly challenged.
“Tadasana” or Mountain Pose
This pose seems very simple, but it is the basic template for all the other yoga poses. It is a welcoming way to get started connecting with the breath and begin a yoga practice.
This is how you do it: Stand tall with feet together, perhaps with the big toes touching, eyes closed. If you are feeling stiff, separate your feet slightly and let your arms rest at your sides, with fingers together.
If this is too much standing, there is a modification. Lay on your back with the soles of your feet pressed up against a wall. It should feel like you are standing, but your lower back will get a slight stretch.
“Balasana” or Child’s Pose
This pose a basic yoga move. It is a resting pose and you can stay in this one for up to a few minutes. If your head doesn’t reach the floor-don’t worry, use a yoga block or pillow to rest your head on.
Do you think that doing nothing is easy? Many of us, especially those of us who have not tried yoga before, the concept of doing nothing is actually very challenging. This pose is both calming and grounding, and you can use it to cool down.
In this pose you will need to close your eyes and attempt to just relax the body while lying flat on your back. Lie with your legs about hip-width apart and rest the arms at about a 45-degree angle to the torso, palms facing up and allowing your limbs to completely relax.
“Setu Bandha Sarvangasana” or Bridge Pose
In this move, you can move in and out of bridge on alternating breaths, or hold the pose, if you are able to. This is a very energizing move that opens the whole front of the body; hips, abdomen, and chest.
If modification is needed, hold onto your mat with both hands, this will give you leverage to turn the arms, so your palms are facing up. Shimmy the arms under the back, while maintaining an arched back, and open your chest.
“Salabhasana” or Locust Pose
This is a back bend move and is extremely accessible for beginners. It is energizing while strengthening all the muscles in the back. This pose is perfect for improving posture, and weak upper back muscles.
This is how you do this move, lie on the belly and inhale while raising everything off the floor – by everything I mean, arms, legs, and chest. Palms should face the floor, while you focus on keeping your neck long and extending the head up and away from the chest.
Once you have practiced this move to feel a bit more flexible, clasp your hands behind your back when you lift up your limbs, this will create a deeper opening for the chest and shoulders.
“Viparita Karani” or Legs-Up-the-Wall
After a long day of being on your feet, lay in this pose for 5-8 minutes, it will improve circulation and you will feel like a brand new person.
This is how this one is done- Lie on your back and walk your legs up a flat wall. Your legs should be straight and the end of your back should meet the wall. If you need, place a pillow under your lower back for more support.
If modification is needed you can bring your knees in close to your chest, open the legs so that the knees go out in opposite directions. The soles of your feet should touch. This stretches the inner thighs and groin.
As mentioned in the beginning, these are just a few poses you can do to help with flexibility, there are many more that available. Practicing yoga on a regular basis will not just help with flexibility, but it will also help with reducing stress, increase concentration and improve muscle strength.
So, don’t avoid yoga any longer! Do it… you will love the benefits it brings to your mind, body and soul.