Have you been feeling stiff lately? Perhaps some stretching time might be added to your schedule. You only need a mat and this collection of the best yoga poses. It won’t be long until you notice (and feel) significant benefits. You can finish them in as short as eight minutes, or you can linger for 20-minute yoga stretches session.
Why are these the greatest yoga stretches to practice on a daily basis? They can, however, assist you in increasing your flexibility and the entire range of motion from head to toe. The yoga stretches work on your hips, hamstrings, calves, back, shoulders, and arms (everything).
Keep in mind that the fundamental purpose of any sort of static stretching is to hold the position long enough for your brain to send a signal to your muscles that it’s okay to relax. It takes at least 30 seconds for them to catch on, so nama-stay in each pose for at least that long to get the maximum effect.
Regularly slowing your flow and settling into these yoga stretches can unlock a plethora of benefits from this ancient practice. “Yoga does wonders for your blood circulation, respiration, and immune system, in addition to enhancing your mobility, posture, and joint health.
Here are 14 yoga stretches or poses to practice on a regular basis to improve your flexibility and overall well-being.
1. Child Pose
Excellent for: lats, hips, thighs, and ankles
Begin seated, toes together and knees open, buttocks on heels.
Walk your hands forward until your arms are straight, your forearms are on the floor, and your lower torso is positioned such that your stomach rests on your thighs and your forehead is on the mat. For at least 30 seconds, hold the stretch.
Grab a bolster or blanket if you notice tightness in your hips and lower back. “Place a bolster or layered blankets lengthwise on your mat. “Rest your torso on the bolster or blankets while you lower yourself to the floor.”
2. Needle Threading Yoga Stretches
Excellent for the shoulders, chest, arms, upper back, and neck.
Begin on all fours.
Raise your right arm toward the ceiling while twisting your torso to the right side.
Continue rotating upper body and extending right arm through the center and to the left, bringing right arm and shoulder to rest on the floor behind left palm (hips remain high) and placing a right ear on the mat.
Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds before repeating on the opposing side.
If you have tightness or tension in your knees, use a yoga block as a substitute. “For improved alignment, try pressing a yoga block between your thighs. “For further support, lay a brick beneath your shoulder.”
Excellent for the chest, abs, and hip flexors.
Begin by lying on your stomach with your legs extended straight behind you, arms bent and palms flat on the floor by your ribs, shoulders, and head lifted a few inches above the mat, and stare just in front of your nose to keep your spine neutral.
Push through your palms to lift your upper body higher, but stop if your lower back suffers.
Stretch for at least 30 seconds.
If you have lower back stiffness, Iya Magazine suggests that if raising your hands on the floor is too hard, you can maintain your forearms on the floor and merely lift halfway instead.
4. Dog facing upwards
Excellent for Quads, hip flexors, ankles, abs, and chest
Begin by lying on your stomach with your legs extended straight behind you, arms bent and palms flat on the floor by your ribs, shoulders, and head lifted a few inches off the mat, and gaze directly in front of your nose to keep your spine neutral.
Push through palms to straighten arms, lift torso up to stare straight ahead, push shoulders down away from ears, and lift legs and shins off the mat.
Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
If you have strain in your lower back or arm and are having difficulty raising your entire body off the floor, try elevating your body halfway or placing a rolled-up towel, blanket, or yoga mat below your thighs for support.
Excellent for Shoulders, upper back, arms, and abs
Begin seated, butt on heels. Bring your hands forward to all fours. Lower your forearms to the floor, lowering your torso and bringing your forehead to rest on the mat.
Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds, holding your hips up the entire time.
If you experience tension in your shoulders and/or back and are unable to sink all the way into this pose, try stacking blankets under your forearms for extra support.
6. Dog with Downward Facing
Excellent for Hips, hamstrings, and calves
Begin on all fours. Tuck toes and lift hips into the air, straightening legs and shifting weight back onto feet to form an upside-down “V” shape. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
To avoid straining your hamstrings and/or lower back, try lifting your heels and softly bending your knees. For added support, tuck a rolled-up towel, blanket, or yoga mat under your heels.
7. Chair Pose
Excellent for Gluteus maximus
Begin by standing with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
Lower into a squat by pulling your buttocks back and down, then raise your arms overhead, bringing your biceps up to your ears. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds.
If you have knee pain or difficulties balancing (you’re wobbling in this pose), consider practicing it against a wall. “Stand about a foot from the wall and, when you sit into the pose, lean your backside against the wall,” she instructs.
8. Lunge High
Excellent for Ankles, calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors
Begin by standing in front of the mat with your feet under your hips and your arms at your sides.
Fold forward, rest your fingers on the floor, and take a step back with your left foot so that your right knee can bend to 90 degrees.
Raise your torso until your shoulders are above your hips, then raise your arms overhead, biceps near your ears. Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds. Then, on the opposite side, repeat.
9. Side Angle Extending
Excellent for: abs
Begin in a warrior II stance with your right leg front, your knee bent at 90 degrees, and your heel bisecting the inner arch of your left foot.
Tilt the torso forward over the right thigh and down, allowing the fingertips of the right hand to rest on the floor within the right foot, and stretch the left arm forward, bringing the bicep to the ear.
Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds. Then, on the opposite side, repeat.
If you are unable to lay your hand on the floor or are having problems balancing, consider resting your front forearm on the top of your front bended knee or placing your hand on a block adjacent to your front foot. You can also use the seat of a chair to support your front bowed leg in this pose to assist you in balance.
Excellent for: hamstrings (front leg), hips
Start with your right leg in front, your left leg behind, your feet wider than your shoulders (right toes facing the top of the mat, outside of your left foot parallel to the bottom of the mat), and your upper body facing the left side, and your arms extended straight at shoulder height.
Lean forward and lower your torso until your right hand may rest on the floor, a block, or your ankle, while reaching your left hand toward the ceiling and looking up.
Modification: If you have knee discomfort or hip tightness, consider sitting on a folded blanket or a block and moving your feet further away from your torso.
Ideal for: inner thighs
Begin by sitting with your legs together and bent, your feet flat on the floor, your hands clutching your knees, and your spine long. Open your legs like a book and bring the soles of your feet together, clutching your toes. Knees should be actively pushed down toward the mat.
If you have tight hamstrings and hips, place your hand on a block next to your front foot for support and to minimize straining.
Hip flexors and quadriceps benefit from this exercise.
Begin by lying on your back, arms at your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes and push your hips into the air. Bring your shoulder blades together and clasp your hands under your body on the mat.
If you have tightness in your neck or spine, consider placing a folded blanket behind your shoulders or a block under your lower back for extra support.
Excellent for the shoulders, back, neck, hamstrings, and calves.
Begin by lying on your back, arms at your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Push your arms into the mat and lift your legs straight up and then overhead, bringing your toes to touch the floor while balancing on your shoulders. Bend your arms and bring your hands to your lower back for more support.
If you are unable to touch your toes to the floor, try placing a chair behind you and resting your toes on the seat of the chair instead.