Yoga has been found to provide many health benefits, like building muscle strength and increasing relaxation. One of the other benefits is increased flexibility. Today we’re looking at the best type of yoga for flexibility as well as how to improve yoga flexibility.
What are the best types of yoga for flexibility?
Serving as the foundation of most of Western yoga practices, Hatha is a time-tested type of yoga. In yoga studios Hatha classes are usually slower-paced. Poses are held anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute, allowing you to sink into your proper alignment and build strength in every position. This slower approach allows you to truly get the full benefit of lengthening into your poses, and offers a greater flexibility.
Next up is Vinyasa yoga. In these faster-paced classes, each pose is linked together with the breath to make sequences that flow. You’ll hold poses for less than 30 seconds, usually working up to moving to one pose to one breath. This practice helps warm up the body, which leads to greater flexibility as you flow from one pose to the next. It’s a wonderful way to raise the heart rate and improve flexibility.
One of the best ways to gain flexibility is to practice in a heated room. You can choose from many hot yoga classes, like Vinyasa flow and Bikram yoga. Bikram features 26 poses done twice, which are always done in the exact same order. Just be careful--you can easily stretch past your limit in a hot yoga class. You’ll want to take it easy until you know how far you can push yourself.
Yin yoga works to dive deeper into poses, helping you sink into a meditative state. Poses are held for over 2 minutes, and are meant to work on lengthening and strengthening connective tissues. You’ll use props like blanket, bolsters and blocks to help support you as you stretch your muscles and tissue. It’s a wonderful way to get both the flexibility and relaxation benefits of yoga.
How to Improve Yoga Flexibility
Perhaps you already have found your class and are seeking to improve your flexibility in poses. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but the best way to increase flexibility in yoga is to practice more. Practicing for 15 to 30 minutes every day will have incredible results. If there are specific poses that you’re wanting to stretch further in, working on those day by day is an amazing way to see improvement quickly. Before you do that, you’ll want to warm up.
These are our four favorite yoga poses for warming up and increasing flexibility:
- Cat and Cow Pose: Start in a tabletop position with wrists below shoulders and knees below hips. Inhale and look up and arch your back. Exhale, rounding the back. Move through the poses until you feel warm.
- Intense Side Stretch: Stand straight with your legs more than hip-width apart. Close your arms behind your back. Lean forward to try and touch your left knee with your head. Return to standing. Do the same on the other side. For a modification, hold your arms straight and touch your left and right foot.
- Plough Pose: Lie on your back with your arms flat on the ground close to your body. Lift your legs and bring your feet past your head. Lift your back and move your feet further from your head.
- Hands to Feet: Stand straight with your arms above your head. Bend forward and reach for your toes. If you can, bend until your abdomen touches your legs. Take deep breaths.