Be it bade bade celebrities or your favourite Insta influencers, everybody swears by the magic of yoga! And if strength and flexibility are the top contenders on your list of fitness goals, this ancient practice is just what you need.
But first, let’s understand what makes building strength and increasing flexibility so important? The combination of strength and flexibility is important for the smooth function of your shareer. It improves the body posture and increases the range of motion. It also reduces fatigue during and after the day to day physical activities. But hey! The list does not end there. Strength and flexibility is also important because it develops co-ordination and balance in the body, which helps it to react faster.
Moreover, practising yoga to increase flexibility regularly will also lower your risk of serious injuries in case of accidents and other mishaps. Yoga is nothing short of a vardaan for your mind and body. It is a great way to increase flexibility and develop strength in the body. Slow movements and deep breathing during yoga reduces stress. It also helps in increasing stability and balance. It promotes joint health, pain-free movements and better blood circulation. Yoga for flexibility works on the groups of muscles that are otherwise difficult to target.
8 Effective Yoga Asanas For Strength & Flexibility
Planning to start with or switch to yoga for strength and flexibility? Here are a few simple and effective poses to help you get started.
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
This is the basic yoga for flexibility and is the foundation of all standing poses. It engages the whole body and improves the posture and strengthens the thighs, knees, ankles, abdomen, chest and shoulders.
- Stand straight with your feet parallel and big toes touching each other. Stretch all the toes.
- Distribute the weight of the body on both heels and feet.
- Pull your knees upward and contract your hips.
- Keep the neck straight and pull your stomach in. Keep the chest forward and shoulders open.
- Place your arms on the side of your thighs, with palms facing the thighs.
- Stand in this position and breathe evenly.
2. Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
This pose improves stability, and stretches and strengthens the whole body. It tones and strengthens the leg muscles, and removes any stiffness in your leg and hips, making them flexible. It strengthens the ankles also and stretches the chest, shoulders and spine.
- Stand in Tadasana and spread the legs apart sideways.
- Raise the arms parallel to the floor with palms facing downward.
- Turn your right foot 90 degrees to the right.
- Turn your left foot slightly to the right and keep it fully stretched.
- Bend (from your hips) to your right and bring the right palm near the right ankle. If possible, rest the right palm on the floor.
- Stretch your left arm towards the ceiling.
- The back of your legs, and the back of your chest and hips should form a line.
- Pull the knee cap of the right knee and keep it locked.
- Stay in this position for about a minute and keep breathing deeply.
- Lift the palm from the floor and return to standing position.
- Repeat the pose on the other side.
3. Adho Mukha Svanasana (The Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Next up on the list of yoga asanas for flexibility is this extremely popular and simple pose. This yoga for flexibility for beginners pose strengthens the ankles and relieves stiffness in the heels. Regular practice of this asana increases the flexibility of shoulder muscles and helps in strengthening the abdominal muscles.
- Come onto your fours and raise your hips up.
- Straighten the arms; move your head towards your feet.
- Keep your legs stiff and press the heels down. Don’t bend your knees.
- Your hands should be shoulder width apart and feet should be hip width apart and parallel to each other. Your toes should point straight ahead.
- Continue taking deep breaths and stay in this pose for about a minute.
- With exhalation return onto your fours and lower the body gently on the floor and relax.
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4. Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose)
This yoga for back flexibility brings elasticity to legs and back muscles and makes them stronger. It also helps open the hips.
- Stand in Tadasana and spread your legs apart sideways. Raise your arms sideways with your palms facing down.
- Your ankles should be beneath your wrists.
- Turn the right foot to the right for about 90 degrees and left foot slightly towards the right.
- Bend your right knee till it is parallel to the floor and forms a right angle between the right thigh and the right calf. Bent knee should be in line with the heel. Turn your face to the right side.
- Keep your left leg stretched out.
- Stay in this pose for about 30 seconds while breathing deeply.
- Return to standing position and repeat the process for the other side.
5. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
This asana gets its name from the posture which resembles sitting on (an imaginary) chair. It is a balancing and strengthening pose. Practise this yoga for leg flexibility and also to remove stiffness in the shoulders and develop leg muscles. It also builds cardiovascular health and tones the core and back muscles.
- Stand in Tadasana, inhale and stretch the arms straight overhead and join the palms.
- Exhale and bend your knees. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor.
- Push your shoulder blades against your back. Keep your lower back long by directing your tailbone down towards the floor.
- Stay in this pose for about 30 seconds and breathe normally.
- Come out of this pose by straightening your legs and then lower your arms.
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6. Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand To Big Toe Pose)
Supta padangusthasana is great for stretching the hamstrings with your back in a resting state. This yoga for hip flexibility will also stretch and increase the flexibility of your hamstrings, calves, and thighs.
- Lie down on your back with both legs stretched and knees locked.
- Raise your left leg to face the ceiling. Keep the right leg straight and stretched on the floor. Keep the right hand on the right thigh.
- With your left arm, hold the big-foot of your left leg.
- Stay in this pose for a minute and keep breathing.
- Relax and repeat it on the other side.
7. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
This yoga for flexibility pose helps in reducing back ache and stretching your abdomen and chest. It also provides strength to back muscles, glutes and ankles.
- Lie down on your back and bend the knees, keeping them hip-distance apart.
- Move your feet closer to the hips and raise your hips.
- Place your hands under the hips.
- Open your shoulders and pull your upper thighs inwards.
- Maintain this yoga for back flexibility pose for a minute, while continuing to breathe deeply.
8. Marjaryasana (Cat Pose)
One of the best yoga stretches for flexibility, Marjaryasana helps stretch the spine, hips and shoulders. It also aids in improving your posture.
- Come onto all fours with your hips and knees in a line.
- Hands should be slightly ahead of the shoulders and shoulder distance apart.
- Exhale and round the spine upwards. Drop the crown of the head and tailbone. Suck the lower belly in.
- Keep the hips over the knees and keep your arms straight.
- Remain in this pose for a few seconds, while continuing to breathe deeply.
5 Safety Measures To Consider While Practising Yoga
It’s always a good idea to #BeALittleMore conscious and aware when it comes to your health and fitness. Before you begin practising yoga, make sure you are doing everything you can to ensure your safety.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind while practising yoga for strength and flexibility.
- Don’t rush yourself into performing advanced poses. Start with easy yoga asanas for flexibility.
- Listen to your body and don’t overstretch. You can try different variations of poses according to the flexibility of your body.
- Don’t forget to breathe while performing these exercises.
- Don’t perform yoga immediately after meals.
- If you are practising yoga for flexibility for beginners, it is best to do so in the presence of an expert or a professional.
Yoga is a one-stop solution to a number of health and fitness issues. It helps build muscle strength, prevent cartilage breakdown, boost immunity, regulates blood circulation and improve your balance, among other things.
Incorporate yoga stretches for flexibility into your routine for better overall health and lifestyle. It’s time to learn more about yoga and take a step towards creating a happier and healthier YOU!
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