Fitness is not only about strength and endurance, an important part of maintaining a fit body, is having a good level of flexibility. Unfortunately, as we get older, our flexibility reduces and many people – even strong, healthy young people – have very limited flexibility.
Limited flexibility can increase your risk of developing injuries when you exercise and can also lead, over time, to reduced movement and agility. Fortunately, there are several yoga poses that are able to increase your flexibility. If you do these movements regularly, you will begin to see improvements very quickly.
Many people have really tight hamstrings that run along the backs of the thighs. One of the best stretches for loosening these up is the forward bend. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, inhale and as you exhale, bend your body forwards, bringing your hands to rest on the floor in front of your feet. Try to keep your legs straight, but you can bend your knees if you need to. Hold the pose for a few breathes and then roll up into the original standing position.
One of the most effective poses for opening up the hips is the triangle pose. Start feet together, standing tall. Step your right foot out about three feet, swivel your right foot out so it is pointing away from the direction of your hips. Shift your body across to the right with your arms stretched out to the sides at shoulder level.
Keeping your arms straight keep reaching your body down and try to touch your right hand to your right ankle. Quite often your hip might give a click when you extend down. Hold the pose for a few breathes and then come back to your original standing pose.
Our shoulders often lose their flexibility as we store stress in our shoulder area and have poor posture habits. The bridge pose is useful for gently stretching the shoulders and helping to reduce tension and increase flexibility.
To do this pose, lie on your back with your legs curled up and your feet flat on the floor close to your bottom. Push into the floor with your feet and raise your body and pelvis up towards the ceiling leaving your shoulders pressing into the ground. Bring your arms together on the floor in line with your bottom and clasp them together. Hold for a few breathes and release.
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