God created the human body to be lithe and limber, capable of moving or bending without restraint. But over the many centuries, we have gone from exerting physical energy into our work to a more relaxed state of mental toil. Thus, our once flexible bodies - so used to gliding about- are now accustomed to sitting in office chairs.
Flexibility not only provides freedom of movement, but it also aids in the avoidance of injury and maintenance of health. Yoga, a system of exercises for attaining physical and mental balance, may very well provide the stretches to increase flexibility. Following is a list of simple stretches to increase flexibility with yoga:
- Forward Bend- One of the simplest stretches to increase flexibility is this pose. The hamstrings can be stretched simply by standing in an upright position and bending forward to touch the toes. If the toes cannot be reached, do not fret. Just remain still for 10 to 15 seconds before moving forward from that position.
- Raised Big Toe - With your back to the floor, wrap a yoga strap or belt around your raised foot and release after 10 to 15 seconds.
- Wide-Legged Position - Sit with your legs wide open and bend forward (if comfortable for you). This will stretch the thighs.
- Low Lunge - Kneel to the floor, place your left knee behind you, and bring your right knee forward. Lay your hands on the floor in front of you to balance yourself as you straighten your left leg and lift your right knee. Hold this pose for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat the process on the other side.
- Downward-Facing Dog Pose - Get on all fours and lift your leg, ensuring that your foot is pointed downward. Lift the leg as high as you possibly can without breaking the pose. Hold pose for 10 to 15 seconds, and repeat the process on the other side.
- Dancer's Pose - While standing upright, grab hold of your right ankle with your right hand. Press your ankle into your hand while slightly leaning backward. Raise your left arm, and hold this posture for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Bound Angle Pose - Sit down and straighten your legs. Bend the knees and pull them in until they reach your groin. Touch the soles of your feet together and turn your knees outward to the sides. Grab your feet, pull them slightly closer to the groin, and hold this pose for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Cat & Cow Pose - To begin the cow pose, get on all fours and tilt you neck upward. Transition into the cat pose by inhaling a breath of air and slowly exhaling it as you raise your spine and drop your head. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, and repeat the process a second time.
The ancient yogis realized how absolutely powerful the practice of yoga had on one's physical constitutions, and now that you are armed with these simple stretches to increase flexibility, you will also reap its benefits.