Not all of us were born with a naturally limber body. For many of us, tight muscles and tension throughout the body is our norm. Sitting all day at a desk doesn’t help matters, and can increase tension in the muscles and reduce the circulation necessary to increase flexibility. Increasing flexibility takes time and dedication, but can allow greater mobility and make movement safer and prevent injury. Practice these stretches regularly to increase flexibility throughout the entire body.
Cross your right arm over your chest at shoulder height, grabbing your right upper arm with your left hand, encouraging a shoulder stretch. Hold for around a minute before switching sides and repeating on the left.
From a standing position, bring your right foot into your right glute and grab the foot with the right hand. Encourage your foot toward the glute with your hand and hold for 30 seconds before switching sides.
Come to stand with your feet hips width apart. On an inhale, reach your arms up toward the sky, stretching the side body and abdomen. Keep your core engaged and lift your hip points slightly toward your ribs, keeping the integrity of the spine. You can grab opposite wrists and reach to one side and then the other for a side stretch. You can also gently reach back, inviting a slight backbend into the posture. Hold here for a few breaths, exploring the variations of this posture in a way that feels good to your body.
Start standing with your feet hips width apart. Take a deep breath in and on an exhale, fold over your legs. Keep a gentle bend in the knees and allow the head and neck to hang heavy. You can let your arms heavy to the floor or grab opposite elbows to add extra weight to the stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
Place your right foot in between your hands and extend your left leg behind you, tucking the toes under and engaging your quads. Keep the front leg bent at a 90 degree angle, stretching into the hip. Keep your hands planted on the ground surrounding either side of your front foot, or place them on the right knee. Hold for around 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Come onto your knees and extend your right foot in front of you, planting your heel on the floor as you flex your toes toward your face. Keep a long spine as you hinge from the hips and fold over the extended leg. Hold and breathe for up to 20 seconds before switching sides.
Bring your knees hips width apart and sit back onto your heels, extending your arms forward. Plant your palms firmly on the ground as you melt your chest toward the mat. If the sensation in your hips is too intense or is causing any pain, you can bring the knees closer together. If you are desiring a deeper stretch in the hips, separate your knees further apart for increased sensation. Take long and deep breaths in this shape and hold for at least one minute.
Gabrielle Marchese is a certified yoga instructor.