Start the year right with this easy 30-minute yoga flow for flexibility. By Kino MacGregor
Flexibility doesn’t just help you get into those impressive looking yoga poses. It’s an important component of your health. Having pliable, flexible muscles can decrease pain and lessen your risk of injury.
We tend not to move around as much as we should in the modern world. This creates muscle imbalances and tension. Stretching releases that tension and lengthens short, tight muscles. When you stretch, you increase blood flow to your tissue, helping the cells get more oxygen and allowing the muscle fibres to release.
Follow this simple 30-minute yoga sequence to increase your flexibility and help you feel good all over (find the video online via the OM app or website or visit omstars.com for more sequence ideas).
1. Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Start on your knees and step forward to a lunging position. Your left knee is on the ground with the left foot pointing straight out behind you. Your right leg is bent with your knee stacked over your ankle. Don’t let your knee go in front of your ankle. Draw your tailbone down and squeeze the inner thighs inward. Stabilise your pelvis. Drop your hands to the side as you lift through the torso. Externally rotate your shoulders and send your arms straight up overhead. Hold for five breaths. Then repeat on the other side.
2. Extended Side Angle Pose (Parsvakonasana)
From standing, step your left foot back so your feet are roughly four feet apart. Turn your left foot out. Bend your right leg so your knee is stacked over your right ankle. Place the right hand on the floor on the outside of the right foot. You can use a block on the outside of the right foot if your hand doesn’t reach the floor. Spiral the left arm up over your head. Try to make your body a straight diagonal line from the left foot all the way up to the tip of the fingers on your left hand. Hold for five breaths. Then repeat on the other side.
3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana B)
From standing step your left foot back again so your feet are roughly four feet apart. Turn your left foot out. Bend your right leg so your knee is stacked over your right ankle. Open your torso and pelvis to the left. Hold your arms out straight at shoulder height. Your right arm is in front of you and your left arm is behind you. Your shoulders are relaxed. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
4. Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana A)
Stand with your legs about four to three feet apart with your feet parallel to each other, so you’re facing the side of your mat. Put your hands on your waist and take a deep breath in, rising up through the chest. Exhale and fold forward. Bring your hands down to the ground. Inhale and lengthen through the spine with your hands flat on the ground. Exhale and fold to bring the crown of your head toward the ground. Stay here for five breaths.
5. Yogic Squat (Malasana)
Face the side of your mat and step your feet about two feet apart with your feet turned slightly out. Bend your knees, lowering down to a squat. Try to keep your feet flat on the floor. Sink down through the hip joints and hold your hands in front of you in prayer position. Stay here for five breaths.
6. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you and your feet flexed. Pivot at your hip joints and reach forward. Grab your shins, ankles, or toes. Inhale and lift your chest up out of the pelvis, straightening your back. Exhale and fold your torso over your thighs. Stay here for five breaths.
7. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Kneel on your mat with your knees about hip-width apart. Your toes are curled under. Inhale and lift through your chest. Feel your chest expanding. Now push the front of the pelvis forward. Reach both arms down and back behind you and grab your heels. If this feels good to you, point the toes and lean back further pressing the hands into the heels of the feet. Roll your shoulders forward. Keep the spine lifting out of the pelvis. Stay here for five breaths.
8. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Lay on your stomach. Come up onto your elbows. Now bend your knees so your heels come toward your buttocks. Reach your arms back and grab hold of your ankles. Kick your legs back and lift your body up off the ground. Stay here for five breaths.
9. Pigeon Pose
Facing the front of your mat bring your right leg out in front of you. Bend your right knee so it’s at a 90-degree angle and your shin is parallel to the front edge of your mat. If you have knee issues you can bend the knee more to give your joint added support. Your left leg is straight out behind you with your left foot pointed. Try to keep your weight evenly distributed between both sides of the pelvis. Fold forward and rest your head on your forearms. Let your hips relax and open. Stay here for five breaths.
10. Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall) Lay on your back.
Extend your legs straight up so they are at a 90-degree angle from your pelvis. Lay in this pose and relax. Stay here for five breaths.