5 Incredible Restorative Yoga Poses to Increase Your Flexibility

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Jane Taylor in Health & Wealth

Last updated: 14 January 2020, 05:15 GMT

Living a sedentary lifestyle isn't healthy for anyone. The human body is designed to move and stretch. Through a routine of restorative yoga poses, anyone can regain his or her vital life force. If you're searching for some amazing yoga poses that will increase your flexibility, then this article is for you.

What Is Flexibility?


Bodies at Rest versus Bodies in Motion

If you have lived a sedentary lifestyle, you are familiar with the cramped joints, low energy, and other aches and pains that arise from only getting short bouts of activity. The adage that bodies at rest stay at rest is true—the opposite is also correct. If you want to become flexible, you need to gradually work your body into that state of high activity. In particular, practice flexibility exercises more like the restorative yoga poses discussed below.

 

How Do You Define Flexibility?

Flexibility is the range of motion in any joint or part of the body. It contributes to muscle length and strength that cross joints, inducing a bending movement. Without great flexibility, the body's limbs and muscles weaken and can lead to a host of problems.

 

How Does Yoga Help to Instill Flexibility and Health?


Flexibility and Immunity

The body has an immune system that protects against diseases and other foreign invaders. This biological shield both destroys pathogens and acts as a wall against harmful microorganisms that allows the body to heal.

Through yoga, the body--and therefore the immune system--is stimulated, promoting the body's defense against disease. In Sanskrit, the word "yoga" means to join or to focus. Regular practice of restorative yoga poses grants the practitioner health, immunity, and flexibility.

The Main Principles of Yoga

Fortunately, there are many types of yoga programs that can cater to your needs. These programs involve a physical aspect that stimulates the muscles, improving flexibility, and a more spiritual, abstract aspect that calms the mind.

Four main principles make up yoga's therapeutic system:

  1. The human body is a holy temple, composed of interdependent dimensions and energies. Therefore, the state of health for one dimension influences the other parts.
  2. All individuals are unique and therefore have different needs or requirements for optimal health. Each yoga program must tailor to one's individual needs.
  3. Yoga is self-empowering. The practitioner is his or her own healer, able to restore and maintain flexibility and vitality.
  4. The state of mind of the student is essential to the therapeutic program. A positive mind aids the healing process more than a negative mind.

These four principles show how yogic practices improve strength and immunity. These practices will banish diseases and disorders while healing the body, and the mind, promoting muscle and limb endurance.

5 Restorative Yoga Poses to Help Increase Your Flexibility


Below, we will discuss five restorative yoga poses--ones we have selected from our research--that will guarantee improved flexibility and health.

1. Setu Bandhasana

Also known as Bridge Pose, this restorative yoga posture is fantastic for the chest, heart, knees, shoulders, spine, back of the neck, and hip flexors. It also relieves stress, exhaustion, insomnia, while regulating blood pressure and stimulating the thyroid. Setu Bandhasana is considered a mild inversion, which attests to its health benefits.

To perform this yoga pose, have your meal a few hours prior. When your food is digested, your body will have enough energy to achieve this posture. You can practice this asana, or yoga pose, whenever you'd like, but we recommend mornings.

Here's how to perform Setu Bandhasana:

  • Lie flat on your back
  • Bend your knees and have your feet on the floor with ankles and knees placed in a straight line, set hip-width apart
  • Rest your arms beside your body, palms facing downwards
  • Grab your ankles if you need an anchor
  • Inhale, lifting your back slowly off the floor
  • Roll your shoulders back with your chin on your chest
  • The shoulders, feet, and arms should support the weight of your body.
  • Squeeze your buttocks with your thighs parallel to the floor and each other
  • Interlace your fingers
  • Push your hands harder on the ground; this gesture will lift your torso higher for a better stretching motion
  • Remain in this posture for at least a minute
  • Breathe slow and deep, remaining mindful of your breath
  • Exhale and gradually release the pose, anchoring yourself to the floor

2. Balasana

This asana, also known as Child Pose, is a potent immune system booster that resembles the fetal position. It tones the abdominal muscles and digestion system while improving waste elimination. It also stretches the lower back and spine, relieving any backaches.

As with other restorative yoga poses, have your meal a few hours prior to optimal results. Because this is a resting posture, you can perform it at any time, even between workout exercises at the gym. Balasana is perfect for resting or catching your breath.

Here's how to perform Balasana:

  • Touch your knees to the floor and bring your heels together as you sit on your heels
  • Spread your knees hip-width apart until you reach a comfortable position
  • Inhale: remain mindful of the breath
  • Bend your back forward and rest your chest between your thighs
  • Exhale
  • Widen your sacrum across the base of the pelvis by pointing your hip towards your navel and squeezing gently
  • Relax your inner thighs, finding a comfortable position
  • Push your tailbone away from your pelvis, lifting the head gently away from the back of the neck
  • Stretch your arms in front, keeping them parallel with your knees
  • Relax the front of your shoulders to the floor: the weight of the front shoulders should pull the shoulder blades across your back
  • Remain in this pose for thirty seconds to a few minutes
  • As a resting asana, this asana should be gentle and relaxing, so don't overdo it here
  • To exit the posture, stretch the front torso and then breathe and lift from the tailbone, pushing down onto the pelvis

3. Anjaneyasana

Known as the Crescent Pose, this asana works the hamstrings, quads, and groin. It opens the chest, heart, and lungs, clearing out mucus and promoting strong, healthy breathing. This posture stimulates body heat and works well in colder temperatures.

To perform this yoga pose, have your meal a few hours prior. When your food is digested, your body will have enough energy to accomplish this posture. You can practice this asana, or yoga pose, at any time of the day; but we recommend mornings.

Here's how to perform Anjaneyasana:

  • Begin by entering the Adho Mukha Svanasana, or downward-facing dog pose
  • Exhale and place your right foot in front, next to your right hand
  • Line up your right knee and ankles so they form a straight line
  • Slowly bend the left knee to the floor behind your hips
  • Inhale and lift your torso
  • Raise both your arms above your head as if to welcome someone above you
  • Keep your biceps next to your ears
  • Face your palms to each other
  • Exhale and let your hips relax and inch forward: you should feel an intense stretch in your leg and the pelvis
  • Pull your tailbone towards the floor and extend your lower back and stretch your arms further behind your head so that your chest pushes upwards
  • Look behind you as you mildly bend your back
  • Hold this pose for a few seconds, remaining mindful of the breath
  • For those who wish to go further, lift the knee of the back leg off the floor; this is considered a full crescent pose
  • To exit this asana, anchor your hands back to the floor and return to Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog)
  • Repeat this ritual by switching sides and putting your left leg forward instead of your right

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4. Tadasana

Meaning Mountain Pose, this asana appears simple at first but requires proper alignment. Tadasana is a base pose that can transition into several other asanas. It gently strengthens all muscles in the body, including the nervous, digestive, and respiratory systems, and corrects spinal posture; this aligns the skeleton and returns your body to a neutral, grounded state. Tadasana is a great pose for office workers seeking to correct their bent posture.

To perform this restorative yoga pose, have your meal a few hours prior. Although not required for this asana, having your food digested will give your body enough energy to perform this posture in an optimal state. You can practice this asana whenever you'd like: mornings, afternoons, or evenings.

Here's how to perform Tadasana:

  • Stand erect with your spine straight, chin and tailbone tucked in, and your legs slightly apart
  • Place your hands loosely at the sides of your body: keep the chest aligned with the abdomen
  • Lift the kneecaps and tighten the thigh muscles inward (do not tighten the lower part of your belly)
  • Imagine four points on your feet; one at the ball of your pinky toe, one at the ball of your big toe, and two at the heel
  • Remain balanced on these four points and then strengthen the inner arches of your inner ankles as you lift them
  • Imagine a stream of light passing through the earth, into your ankles, up to your inner thighs, groin, back, neck, and up to the crown of your head
  • Close your eyes and relax
  • Breathe in as you stretch your shoulders, arms, and chest skywards
  • Remain mindful of the breath as you observe the stretch in your body, from the feet to the head
  • Hold this pose for a few seconds
  • Exhale and release

5. Utkatasana

Known as Chair Pose, this asana is a potent posture that stimulates the entire body. Utkatasana simulates sitting in an imaginary chair. Utkatasana is good for insomnia, knee and ankles issues, headaches, and low blood pressure.

To perform this yoga pose, have your meal a few hours prior. When your food is digested, your body will have enough energy to achieve this posture. You can practice this asana, or yoga pose, whenever you'd like, but we suggest mornings.

Here's how to perform Utkatasana:

  • Stand erect as if for mountain pose
  • Place your feet slightly apart
  • Stretch the arms forward, palms facing downwards and keeping your elbows straight
  • Gently bend your knees
  • Push down your pelvis as if to sit in a chair
  • Find a comfortable position, keeping the hands parallel to the floor
  • Breathe and shut your eyes, entering a state of mindfulness
  • Keep your spine lengthened
  • Hold this pose for one minute
  • Gently lower to the floor and sit cross-legged in Sukhasana

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Conclusion


Performing these restorative yoga poses routinely will tone your body and improve endurance, strength, and flexibility. We hope this article on restorative yoga poses has given you the tools you need to heal your body, improve flexibility, and strengthen your immune system. Remember, yoga is about gently stimulating the body and entering a calm mental state.



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