Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned yogi, the following yoga class is suitable and designed for you to practice daily, to help increase your flexibility.
This 15 minute yoga sequence is gentle on the body, making it a great one to do in the morning and/or evening. You can follow along watching the video or using the picture/instruction format – both below.
Note: This video is part of this yoga video series which you may like.
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And if video’s not your thing – here’s the sequence in picture and instruction format:
1. Begin lying on your back. Bend your legs, placing your feet wider than your hips, allowing the knees fall in toward each other, softly opening up the hips. Begin to soften the body, allowing your arms to relax and feel heavy. Take three deep breaths to oxygenate and calm the mind.
2. Coming into a ball, bring your knees into your chest, squeezing the knees toward the face to open up the hips. Then allow the back of your head to relax down to the floor, while the knees stay squeezed. Take a couple deep breaths here, holding the pose.
3. Place you feet down on the ground with the knees bent. Hug the right knee in towards your right shoulder, making sure to avoid the front of the body. For a further stretch, lengthen the left leg out long in order to open the hips further.
4. Repeat on the opposite leg. Be sure to hug the left knee in towards the left shoulder, rather than on top of the chest. Ensure to hold the stretch for at least 3 breaths.
5. Bring the feet together, the knees wide. Let your arms reach in between your knees and grab the outside of your feet, ankles or calves. Whatever works! Again, let the head relax down. It is always important to focus on release neck tension. This is where most of our stress lingers! Reach according to the level that allows the head to relax. Deep breaths and slow exhales.
6. Gently let go of your legs, placing your feet back on the mat and gentle rock the knees to the right side while gazing to the left. Then slowly and softly, windshield wipe the knees to the other side while gazing to the right side. Repeat a few times.
7. Kick the right foot up and cross it on top of the left knee. Focus on bringing the right knee wide. This might feel intense enough and if that’s the case, simply relax the head down. If you feel you need a little more opening in the hips, option to thread the fingers behind the left thigh or above the left shin (see photo below). Stay here for about three breaths!
8. Bring your legs back to the midline and then cross the left foot up and over the right knee. Again same option to stay like the photo in step 7, or reach the hands through the legs like this. Always listen to the body! Don’t fret if the pose differs from each side. Our body is never completely even.
9. Unwrap your legs and squeeze them back into the chest for one breath.
10. Take a strap or belt and wrap the right foot at the arch. Flex the foot and attempt to straighten the leg. The purpose of the strap is to help us straighten the leg, so grip lower if you need more space in order for that to happen. Take a few deep breaths here while focusing on flexing the foot and lifting the leg.
11. Inhale and take the strap in the right hand, while holding the left hip down with the left hand. On the exhale bring the leg out wide. Don’t worry about how far you go, focus on keeping that left hip on the ground! We aim to open the hips here so they should stay on the ground. Take a couple deep breaths here and then switch to the other side.
12. Allow your feet to relax down. Lift the right arm up and then roll to the right side, cradling the head with your arm. Give your body one deep inhale and long exhale here, before pushing up towards a table top position.
13. From table top position, take a deep inhale as we push our chest forward, dropping the belly and lifting our gaze for cow pose.
14. Then exhale to tuck the tailbone and the chin, lift the upper back to feel a stretch in the upper back and spine – this is cat pose. Repeat transitioning between cat and cow poses three times.
15. Return to a neutral spine and then sit back on the heels. To love into child’s pose, let the forehead relax through the arms to relieve tension in the neck. Take a couple deep breaths here.
16. Inhale to return to the table top pose. Moving into puppy pose, keep your hips stacked over the knees and reach your hands further forward. Let your face relax down and aim to get the chest on the ground, opening the upper back. Take a few breaths here to open the chest up.
17. Return back to the table top position, hands stacked under the shoulders and hips on top of the knees. Step your left foot forward and place a couple books or blocks around the foot. Place your hands on the blocks and sway front to back and possibly left to right a little, to help open up the hips.
18. Slide the hips back and straighten the left leg into a runners stretch. Keep the hands on the blocks to help this reach. It is more important to focus bringing the lower belly to the thigh rather than the head to the knee. We want to lengthen the lower back rather than round it. Take a few breaths here and then repeat the previous step (17) and this step, on the opposite side.
19. Bring the feet back together and sit the hips back on the heels, while letting the forehead rest through the arms. One deep breath. Roll the body up and then let the head dip to the right side. Place the right hand on top if you would like a bit more weight on the neck. Repeat on the other side.
20. Inhale one deep breath as we sweep the arms over head, hands meet in prayer and then bring the hands down to the chest. We bow our heads in gratitude towards taking the time to work on both our body and our mind.
How did you go?
As a yoga teacher I’m often asked, “how can I make myself more flexible”. And while there isn’t a particular ‘type’ of yoga for flexibility, there are many yoga poses that can help you to build flexibility.
So I want to hear from you – how did this yoga sequence for flexibility feel in your body?
Remember – as with anything, to see results, consistency is key. Practice this sequence at least once a day for at least a month, perhaps adding other stretches that feel good in your body (pop your experience in the comments below so I can give suggestions). Then compare where you’re at at the end of the month, to when you started.
P.S. Who you know that’s trying to increase their flexibility? They may enjoy this sequence, so share it with them now – the big social buttons are below for you. Plus they’ll thank you later!