Yoga is more than just stretching, but there’s more than enough of it to go around. Finding a good stretch, whether it’s for a warm-up or just to stay fresh during the day, is invaluable and many people go through poses looking for one that’s perfect for their situation. If you’re looking for ideas, read on and we’ll show you the best yoga stretches, making sure they cover your entire body.
1. Standing Forward Bend
There are few poses as simple, and devious, as the standing forward bend. It’s a test of the flexibility of our lower back and hamstrings, and a basic stretch many people neglect in their daily life.
All you have to do is bend forward and reach for your toes while your legs are straight but not locked. If that’s too easy, you can reach past your ankles behind you. Contortionists sometimes take it a step further, but it’s not doable for the average person.
The Standing Forward Bend will stretch your hamstrings, the back of your calves, and your lower back. Find a position which is tight but not painful and hold it for thirty seconds, come up slowly, and then repeat.
It’s one of the best stretches around, and improving is easy if you make it part of your daily routine.
2. Wheel Pose
The Wheel Pose looks challenging to many beginners, but once you have a semi-solid foundation in yoga it’s easy to accomplish. It’s also called the “back bridge” in a gymnastic context if you’re not familiar with the pose.
Bringing yourself into position is easy enough: just lay on your back and bring your hand’s palm down by your head. Your fingers should be facing your shoulders, then you’ll press into the ground and arch your back.
The position feels precarious, and you shouldn’t push it initially, but it’s a fantastic stretch for the entire front of the body. Those who are dedicated will also find it increases the range-of-motion in their shoulders.
Wheel Pose is one of the first “advanced” poses that most new yoga practitioners learn, and it’s one of the best ways to loosen your body up a bit.
3. Downward Facing Dog
Some poses are just synonymous with Yoga, and Downward Facing Dog is one of them. Even if you’ve never stepped on a mat in your life you already know what it entails.
Despite the simple nature of the stretch, it’s remarkably effective for creating a whole-body stretch. Lay prone on the ground, then bring yourself up so your body forms an inverted V. You can walk your hands or legs back and forth to change the difficulty or target different parts of your back or shoulders.
This pose stretches the core, shoulders, and arms a bit. It primarily targets the back of the body, creating a nice release of tension if you carry a lot of your weight there.
It’s simple, but it’s remarkably effective. Downward Facing Dog is truly one of the best yoga stretches, there’s a reason it’s so well known.
4. Cobra Pose
The Cobra Pose is one of the best ways to stretch out your lower back. That said, it may not be a good idea for those who have previous injuries, especially serious ones.
To assume the pose lay prone on the ground, then press upwards with your palms by your sides. Arch your back forwards and shift your weight to get a good bend. Advanced practitioners may be able to form a crescent and look behind themselves, but that’s far more than a newbie needs.
Hold the pose for thirty seconds to a minute for the best result. You’ll feel a load taken off of your spine when it’s done correctly. If done incorrectly, however, it’s possible to hurt yourself so be careful when starting.
The Cobra Pose is possibly the lower back stretch for healthy individuals. Give it a shot, it’s one of the few asanas which provides immediate relief.
5. Bow Pose
The Bow Pose relies on tension through your body, and how good of a stretch you get depends on your strength. For that reason, it’s a self-limiting pose… which makes it exceptionally newbie-friendly.
The Bow Pose is assumed by lying prone, then grabbing your ankles. Use your legs to lift your body in an arch, maintaining tension by pulling your limbs against each other, creating an isometric hold that will challenge a beginner a lot.
The Bow Pose stretches most of the upper body easily and can stretch the legs out some as well. The trick is in finding the right tension for your body. You’ll advance over time, but in the beginning, it’s wise not to push the limits of what you can do here.
With the ability to seemingly lengthen the entire body, the Bow Pose is a great stretch for anyone. It’s nature also makes it particularly well suited for the beginner who wants to move a bit beyond Sun Salutations and foundational poses.
6. Butterfly Pose
Stiff hips can be a serious problem, and most people don’t know how to stretch them. It’s relatively easy if you have a moment to sit down, you’ll just want to use the Butterfly Pose.
Butterfly Pose is simple: sit down, press your feet together, and lower your knees towards the ground. Those with tight hips will have a lot of trouble at first, but naturally bendy people will have no trouble getting their legs to the floor.
Hip flexors are important for everyone. Athletes need strong ones to produce explosive movement, while desk-bound people can often get a whole-body “loosening” effect simply by keeping the hips warmed up.
It’s simple, you can do it anywhere, and there’s no better stretch for your hips. Give it a shot the next time you feel bound up, it may be just the thing to free you.
Stay Fresh, Stay Loose
There’s more to Yoga than stretching, but stretches are a large component. The above poses are only some of the great possibilities which are out there for the would-be yogi. The only question now is how you’ll use them in your daily life.
Stay loose, and enjoy the ride to better joint health!