Flexibility is something that we often lose as an adult. We get into bad habits, and the result is a loss of flexibility in our bodies.
Often mistaken to be one and the same, there are significant differences between Pilates and Yoga. One of which is the exercises' ability to help improve a person's flexibility.
Yoga is one of the recommended cardio for seniors as it is a great way to regain the strength and flexibility that have been lost , and it can be modified to suit your level of fitness and flexibility.
What are the best movements to practice to help improve flexibility?
Yoga is often mistaken to only help improve your calmness levels, but there are many other benefits to practicing yoga.
It can be used as a way of strengthening your muscles, improving your joint movements, helping your muscle movements, and increasing your flexibility.
It can help you to improve both your physical health, but also your mental health.
This article will help you practice the movements that can help to increase your flexibility without injuring yourself.
Find out more about how yoga helps improve your flexibility and how you can start to see a difference in your movements.
Why Is Flexibility Important?
When you focus on improving your flexibility, there are lots of benefits that can help to change your life.
These changes can help to make you a happier person as you will be able to see positive changes in your body that you may not have seen if it wasn't for practicing yoga.
By focusing on improving your flexibility, you will be able to reduce any feelings of stress that you may be having.
As yoga releases tension, your mind, and body will feel more relaxed as you will be releasing any unwanted tension from your body to feel like a calmer and stress-free person.
Reduce Muscle Tension
If you suffer from stiff or tense muscles, focusing on flexibility will help you to release any tightness and muscle tension that is preventing you from relaxing or moving.
Releasing muscle tension makes it easier to perform a wide range of movements that you may not have been able to do otherwise.
Improve Blood Circulation
When you are more flexible, your blood circulation improves as blood is able to flow to your muscles. This helps your muscles when they are in recovery, so you will be less likely to have stiff muscles that prevent you from moving.
Less Likely To Have An Injury
When you strengthen your muscles and improve their movement, you will be less likely to experience an injury. As your muscles will become stronger, they won't be easy to damage, meaning that you won't have to wait for them to heal after an injury.
When Will I Begin To Feel More Flexible?
As everyone is different, there is no set time when you will begin to feel more flexible. However, some people find that they notice a difference within just a few weeks of starting to practice yoga.
Others find that it takes longer to feel the effects of yoga. Everyone is different, so some people will take longer than others to feel the effects of the flexibility of yoga.
Head To Knee Yoga Pose
The head to knee yoga pose is great for increasing the flexibility in your thighs, back, and hips. As well as increasing this flexibility, you will be able to increase the blood flow in your lower abs, which will relieve stress and tension in your body.
To practice this pose, you will need to sit on the floor with your right leg extended in front of you. Bend your left knee and position it to the side of the mat.
Your left foot should be placed on the inside of your right thigh. Take a deep breath and begin to raise your arms above your head, sitting up as tall as you can.
When you breathe out, bend your hips forward and fold yourself towards your right leg. Don't force yourself to lean forward too much that it is uncomfortable as this could damage your ligaments.
Hold the position for a couple of minutes before practicing it on the other side.
Cow Face Yoga Pose
The cow face yoga pose is suitable for people of all abilities, so you can practice this pose as a beginner and if you are more advanced. Firstly, begin by sitting on the floor in a position that is comfortable for you.
Sit up straight to elongate your spine and open out your chest. Taking one arm, reach it over your head and then bend your arm to place your fingers down your spine.
Place your opposite hand on your elbow and gently draw it to the opposite side of the arm that is raised. While you are doing this, let your hand move down your spine as far as it can go.
You can also bend your opposite arm up to the arm that is already raised and draw it up your spine to meet the other hand. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before repeating it on the other side.
Bow Yoga Pose
The bow yoga pose is perfect for stretching the muscle that we spend so much time not using during the day.
As we spend a lot of time on computers or sitting at desks, our back and shoulder muscles can sometimes begin to feel pain. This pose helps to increase the flexibility in these muscles and reduce any feelings of pain.
To begin this pose, lie face down on the floor or on a mat. Place your arms next to your body and remain to lie flat on the floor. Next, bend your knees so that your feet curl up to the top of your legs.
Hold your ankles and lift your chest off the floor. Keep your head facing forward and hold this pose for 30 seconds, taking deep breaths throughout.
If you struggle to do this pose, don't panic! You can work your way up to this flexibility, just make sure that you listen to your body.
Cat-Cow Yoga Pose
The cat-cow yoga pose is able to help you improve the flexibility in your neck, spine, shoulders, and core. You will be able to have more mobility in these muscles and any pain will be reduced.
Firstly, position yourself on the floor or mat on all fours. Make sure that your wrists are situated directly underneath your shoulders in a straight line and that your knees are below your hips.
Balance your weight across your body and breathe in. When you are breathing in, let your stomach drop close to the floor.
Then, make sure that your chest and tailbone have risen while your stomach is still dropped. Breathe in and then begin to round your spine, tucking your chin into your chest. This will help to stretch these muscles and increase your flexibility.
Wide-Angle Forward Bend
The wide-angle forward bend will help your hips to open up and stretch your lower back. This will help to strengthen the muscles and improve your flexibility. Sit on the floor and open your legs as wide as you can.
You don't need to force yourself to open your legs any wider than they can, just open them so that you are sitting comfortably. Your toes need to be pointing upwards, not to the side.
Raise your arms over your head and lean your entire body forward over your legs. Keep your legs straight and walk your hands down your legs as close to your feet as you can get. Hold this position for a couple of minutes before repeating.
Side Stretch Yoga Pose
The side stretch yoga pose stretches the muscles in your legs, hips, and spine. It helps to improve not only your flexibility, but your posture, digestion, and balance.
To practice this pose, you will need to stand up straight and position your feet so that your left foot is in front of your body and so your right foot is behind you. The foot at the back needs to be slightly turned out.
Make sure that your hips are facing forwards and place your hands on your hips. Begin to bend your hips while keeping your spine and neck straight, before dropping your hands to the floor.
Hold this pose for about a minute before slowly returning to the starting position. Swap your feet around to repeat this pose on the other side.
Tips For Beginners
When you are beginning yoga for the first time, it is important to listen to your body and not force it into positions that you are uncomfortable with.
If you are in a position and it starts to become painful, release it straight away. This could cause an injury, so take it at your own pace.
If you are unable to hold the poses for as long as a minute, only hold for as many seconds as you can. This is still helping your muscles and you can work towards being able to hold the poses for longer.
You will begin to become more flexible, so don't force yourself straight away.
To conclude, there are lots of yoga poses that can help to increase your flexibility. The poses above target different areas of your body so you can make sure that you are strengthening your entire body, not just one section.
Flexibility is important for feeling good about yourself, but it is also important for making you happier, healthier, and less at risk of experiencing injuries.
You should never force yourself into any yoga positions when your body can't do it, so it is better to gradually increase your movement.
Don't force yourself into difficult yoga poses too quickly as this could damage your nerves and muscles.
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