27 Easy Beginner-Friendly Yoga Poses And Stretches For Increased Flexibility

Laura Finch
written by
part of Yoga Routines
created on September 30, 2019
updated on October 7, 2019

Are you looking for the best way to increase your flexibility?

You’re in the right place.

Yoga is one of the most effective exercises to improve your range of motion, regardless of age. Whether you’re 20 or 50, you can stretch to reach your toes if you want.

Besides, apart from making you bendier, yoga offers a myriad of other health benefits. From boosting your mood to helping you sleep better, yoga can bring more mindfulness into your daily life.

The best thing?

Lots of yoga poses for flexibility build strength and stability while lengthening your muscles, making yoga more fun and balanced compared to a typical stretching session.

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There are a ton of yoga postures for increasing flexibility out there. I was a beginner yogi once, and I know how overwhelming it can get.

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of my top yoga poses and stretches to improve flexibility. They target main muscle groups such as hips, hamstrings, shoulders, which are the first to suffer from a sedentary and inactive lifestyle.

All yoga poses below are beginner-friendly and include modifications. So you’ll be good to go even if you’re the most inflexible person ever.

Yoga For Flexibility: FAQ

How often should I do these yoga poses to improve my flexibility?

The best yoga pose for increasing flexibility is the one you do regularly. Don’t expect fast results overnight.

Consistency and regular practice are essential.

Strive for at least 10 minutes of yoga every day to loosen up the body. Do a full yoga session with longer holds at least 2-3 times a week to see the results as soon as possible.

How long should I hold each pose?

Whatever you feel like. Every day is different from another, and your body might feel very open at one point and super stiff at another.

In general, I suggest you start out by holding each pose for about 2-3 full breaths and increase the number of breaths over time.

Short holds are great for quick morning yoga routines to limber the body and prepare for the day. Longer holds are better after a workout or in the evening when your muscles and joints are warm.

How long does it take to improve flexibility with yoga?

It depends on many factors: your age, gender, current fitness level, even genetics. Many reasons can negatively impact your flexibility gains.

For example, lack of strength and joint stability is one of the most common reasons for the lack of flexibility. So make sure to not only lengthen the muscles but to stiffen them by adding a strength-building routine to your schedule.

What should I feel in the poses? How do I know I’m stretching enough?

Never go for teeth-gritting pain. Well, any pain whatsoever.

Other red flags, apart from pain, that you have to back out of the pose are:

  • You’re having a hard time breathing normally
  • You’re making a ‘pain face’
  • You feel nauseous from the strain

Aim for feeling slight discomfort in a yoga pose. From a scale to 0 (no sensation) to 10 (pain), go to 5-6.

Do I have to practice all these 27 poses to improve flexibility?

Absolutely not. Choose the ones that work for you and target the areas you’re trying to make more supple. Don’t forget to include strength-building exercises into your routine.

Do I have to relax my muscles in the pose or tense up?

It depends on:

  • The pose you’re doing
  • The type of yoga you’re practicing

Yin Yoga, which is said to be the best yoga for flexibility, promotes passive stretching and encourages yogis to let go of any muscle engagement. However, many yoga poses are done either sitting or lying on the mat.

The poses I’ve included in the list require you to engage various muscles groups depending on the pose. Staying active in your muscles will help you stretch more effectively and safely.

Please get familiar with the contradictions and precautions for every pose. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Easy Pose With Side-Body Stretch/Sukhasana Variation

Stretches: hips, abdominal muscles, shoulders, neck

How-To:

  • Start in a comfortable cross-legged position with a long spine.
  • Inhale as you sweep your arms overhead.
  • Exhale, bring your right hand to the side and lean to the right while extending your left arm over.
  • Look from underneath your left arm, if that’s comfortable for the neck.
  • Lean on your elbow instead of the hand if you feel like going deeper into the pose.
  • To come out, press into your hand and lift your torso upright.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Draw your chest open as you lean to the side. Avoid rounding your shoulders.
  • Don’t let the hips lift from the ground when you bend to the side.

Modifications:

  • Sit on a yoga block or a blanket is you find it hard to keep your spine upright in the pose.

Seated Eagle Pose/Garudasana Variation

Stretches: chest, shoulders

How-To:

  • Begin in a comfortable seated position.
  • Breathe in and extend your arms to the sides with elbows bent and fingertips pointing up.
  • Exhale and wrap your arms, bringing your left arm under the right one. Press firmly into your palms.
  • Keep your elbows at about shoulder height. You can gently lift and lower your arms to find the stretch that works for you.
  • Unwrap the arms.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Stay upright and avoid rounding forward.
  • Keep your forearms away from the face.

Modifications:

  • If you can’t wrap your wrists, simply bring your hands across and place them on your shoulders as if you’re giving yourself a hug.

Cobbler’s Pose Or Butterfly Stretch/Baddha Konasana

Stretches: hips, groin muscles

How-To:

  • Sit upright with your knees bent.
  • Bring the soles of your feet together and draw them in as close as possible.
  • Grab the feet with your hands and gently press your elbows into the knees to help them open.
  • If you want to go deeper, slowly fold forward on an exhale, leading with your chest.

Tips:

  • Keep your spine long, and your shoulders relaxed as you lean forward.
  • Avoid rounding through your lower back.
  • Don’t let your hips lift as you bend forward.

Modifications:

  • Sit on a yoga block or a blanket to support the hips.
  • If you have a tight groin, place a yoga block below each knee for extra support.
  • Lean against the wall to help your back stay straight.

Hero Pose/Virasana

Stretches: hips, thighs, knees, ankles

How-To:

  • Kneel on the mat with your knees touching and the tops of the feet flat on the floor.
  • Without moving your knees, widen your feet so that they are about hip-distance apart.
  • Inhale and lengthen. Exhale and lower your buttocks between your heels.
  • Press into the tops of your feet and draw your chest open.
  • Rest your hands on the thighs and softly gaze forward.
  • To release, press your palms into the heels and lift your hips into starting position.

Tips:

  • Keep your knees together.
  • Engage your thighs to protect your knees.

Modifications:

  • Place a yoga block, bolster, or a yoga blanket under your buttocks if you can’t sit down between your heels.

Cow Face Stretch/Gomukhasana

Stretches: hips, lower back, shoulders

How-To:

  • Start in a seated position with your legs extended and feet flexed (Staff pose).
  • Bend the knees and slide your left foot under the right leg. Bring it all the way to the outside of your right hip.
  • Lift your right foot and place it outside of the left hip.
  • Your right knee should be stacked on top of the left one.
  • Breathe in and raise your right arm towards the sky, palm facing back.
  • Bend your right arm down as you wrap your left arm behind you and reach for the right hand.
  • Clasp your palms together.
  • Inhale and lengthen your spine. Exhale and slowly fold forward.
  • To release, release the clasp of the hands, uncross your legs and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Ground your buttocks to the ground. Don’t let the hips lift.
  • Engage your core muscles to protect the lower back.
  • Flex your feet while in the pose.

Modifications:

  • Hold a yoga strap between your hands if you have tight shoulders. It will help you connect the hands together behind your back.
  • Sit on a rolled yoga blanket or a bolster to support your spine and sit evenly on both sit bones.

Seated Forward Bend/Paschimottanasana

Stretches: hamstrings, back, spine

How-To:

  • Begin in a seated position, spine tall, and legs extended in front of you (Staff pose). Keep your feet flexed toward your body.
  • Bend your knees slightly.
  • Inhale as you sweep your arms to the sides and overhead, palms facing inward. Keep the arms parallel with the ears.
  • Start hinging at your hips and leaning forward as you breathe out.
  • Place your hands as far as you can reach – knees, shins, ankles or balls of your feet while keeping the spine long.
  • Contract your abdominal muscles to maintain the stretch and gaze at your legs.

Tips:

  • Keep a micro-bend in your knees at all times.
  • You should feel no stretch behind the knees, only in the calves and hamstrings. If you feel sensations in your knees, bend them a little bit more.
  • Don’t hunch your shoulders. Keep the chest open and lead with your heart when folding forward.

Modifications:

  • Placing a pillow, a yoga block, or a blanket under the buttocks will help you maintain a neutral position in your spine while sitting upright.
  • Wrap a yoga strap around the outer edges of your feet and hold onto the ends of the yoga strap as you lean forward.

Half Lord Of The Fishes/Ardha Matsyendrasana

Stretches: hips, spine, abdominal muscles

How-To:

  • Begin in a seated position, spine tall, and legs extended in front of you (Staff pose). Keep your feet flexed toward your body.
  • Bend your right knee and bring the foot close to you. Lift the right foot and cross it over to the outside of your left hip. Your right knee should point up to the ceiling.
  • Place the right hand behind you to help you keep the spine upright.
  • Inhale as you raise your left arm to the sky.
  • Exhale, hug the right knee with your left hand and twist your torso to the right.
  • Look to the right over your right shoulder.
  • To come out, shift your gaze to the front and slowly release the twist.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Start twisting from your core, then turn with the upper back and the neck. To come out of the twist, lead with the neck, then upper body, and core.
  • Keep your straight foot flexed.
  • Press your buttocks into the mat. Both of your sit bones should stay on the floor while twisting.
  • Don’t collapse on your back hand. Instead, press into the palm to create a lift in your spine.
  • Keep your shoulders drawing back and down your spine.

Modifications:

  • Sit on the edge of a yoga block to prevent slumping forward.

Cow/Bitilasana

Stretches: spine, back, neck

How-To:

  • Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  • Align your shoulders over wrists and hips over your knees.
  • Inhale and raise your head and tailbone towards the sky while dropping your belly to the mat.
  • Gently gaze upward.

Tips:

  • Be careful and gentle when moving the neck.

Modifications:

  • Place a blanket under your knees for extra cushion.
  • In case of knee or wrist injury, do the pose in the chair or while standing.

Cat/Marjaryasana

Stretches: spine, back, neck

How-To:

  • Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  • Align your shoulders over the wrists and hips over your knees.
  • Press into your hands. Breathe out and engage your core as arch your spine toward the ceiling.
  • Gently drop the chin to the chest and tuck your tailbone.

Tips:

  • Avoid hunching your shoulders.
  • Don’t strain your neck.

Modifications:

  • Place a blanket under your knees for extra cushion.
  • In case of knee or wrist injury, do the pose in the chair or while standing.

Thread The Needle/Parsva Balasana

Stretches: back, shoulders, neck

How-To:

  • Begin in a tabletop position with your knees about hip-distance apart.
  • Align your shoulders over the wrists and hips over your knees.
  • Imagine you’re holding the needle in your right arm.
  • Inhale as you lift your right arm, fingertips pointing up to the sky. Rotate your upper body up and gaze towards your right fingers.
  • Exhale as you thread your right arm underneath the left. Rest your right shoulder and ear on the mat.
  • To come out of the pose, root through your left palm, breathe in and lift your right side off the mat.
  • Return to a neutral tabletop position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Keep the chest open by broadening through the collarbones.
  • Release the tension in your neck and jaw.

Modifications:

  • If you have sensitive knees, fold your mat or use a yoga blanket for extra cushion.
  • In case of wrist pain or injury, begin in a tabletop position on your forearms. Use a yoga bolster or a yoga block and stack your forearm on it for extra height.

Camel/Ustrasana

Stretches: quadriceps, hips, abdominal muscles, chest, neck

How-To:

  • Kneel with your legs about hip-width apart. You can tuck your toes or place the feet flat on the mat, whatever feels more comfortable.
  • Position your hands on the lower back with fingers pointing down.
  • Inhale. Lengthen through the spine, engage your core and inner thighs. Softly gaze upward.
  • As you breathe out, start pushing your belly and hips to the front while gently leaning up and back with your upper body.
  • Draw your shoulder blades down and open through your chest.
  • Slide your hands from the low back down to the legs and, if comfortable, grab your heels with your hands.
  • Keep the neck in line with the spine. Alternatively, let your head drop back if that feels okay and if you have a healthy neck.
  • To release, bring your hands to your lower back, tuck your chin slightly and come up as you breathe in.
  • Sit on your shins in a neutral position for a few breaths.

Tips:

  • Keep the hips aligned over your knees. Don’t push them too far forward or back.
  • Don’t collapse in your lower back. Engage your core and start the movement from your upper body.

Modifications:

  • Fold your yoga mat or place a blanket under your knees for extra padding.
  • If you’re not ready to reach the soles of the feet while bending back yet, grab a pair of yoga blocks and place them on a highest stetting beside your feet. Slide your hands from the low back and onto yoga blocks.
  • Place a yoga block between your thighs as you lean back to activate the inner thighs.
  • Try doing Camel facing the wall. Bend back as you push your thighs and belly into the wall.

Child’s Pose/Balasana

Stretches: hips, lower back, shoulders

How-To:

  • Start in the tabletop position with tops of the feet flat on the floor.
  • On an exhale, shift your hips back towards the heels while stretching your arms forward, palms down.
  • Rest your forehead on the mat, a blanket, or a yoga block.

Tips:

  • Keep your neck neutral, and jaw relaxed.

Modifications:

  • If your hips are really tight, roll a yoga blanket and place it between your calves and hamstrings.
  • Instead of extending your arms forward, place your hands alongside your body with palms facing up. It will take the pressure off your shoulders.

Half Pigeon Pose/Ardha Kapotasana

Stretches: hips

How-To:

  • Begin in a tabletop position on your hand and knees. (Alternatively, you can start in Downward-Facing Dog).
  • Bring your right knee forward and rest it near the right wrist.
  • Depending on your hip flexibility, your right ankle may fall somewhere around your left wrist, and your right shin will be parallel to the front of the mat.
  • If that’s not happening, bend your right knee and bring your right ankle away from the wrist and closer to your left hip.
  • Slide and extend your left foot back.
  • Level your hips.
  • Inhale as you raise your torso and puff up through the chest.
  • Exhale and start walking your hands forward while slowly lowering your chest forward.
  • To release, push back through your palms and lift back into the tabletop position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Engage your hips in the pose as if you’re drawing the legs together.
  • Flex the front foot to protect the knee.

Modifications:

  • Put a block or a rolled yoga blanket under your buttocks if your hip rests too high from the floor.
  • Place your head on fists or stacked yoga blocks instead of folding all the way down.
  • Fold your yoga mat or place a blanket under your back knee.
  • If your hips are far off the ground, try Figure Four Stretch while lying on the back.

Downward-Facing Dog/Adho Mukha Svanasana

Stretches: calves, hamstrings, shoulders, spine

How-To:

  • Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position with your toes tucked.
  • Align the hips over the knees and move your hands slightly forward of your shoulders.
  • Spread your fingers wide with the middle finger pointing straight forward.
  • Inhale. Root through your palms, engage your core muscles by drawing the navel back to the spine.
  • As you breathe out, press into your palms and lift your knees off the ground.
  • Push your hips up and back and imagine your tailbone is reaching up to the ceiling.
  • Keep your knees bent slightly as you find length in your spine by pushing your chest towards the thighs.
  • Gaze towards your navel and release the tension from the neck.
  • If your hamstrings are open, reach your heels to the ground. Your body should resemble the inverted letter “V.”
  • To release the pose, bring your knees down to the floor and come into a tabletop position.

Tips:

  • The long spine is more important than straight legs. Keep your knees deeply bent if that helps you maintain the integrity of the spine.
  • Draw the shoulder blades down your spine to keep your chest open.
  • Press firmly into the outer edges of your palms, fingertips, and knuckles rather than dumping all weight into the center of your palms.
  • Keep a micro-bend in your elbows.

Modifications:

  • If you have tight hamstrings, bend your knees deeply or spread your feet wider than hip-distance.
  • Place the heel of your hand on a towel or a blanket in case of wrist pain.
  • Put a rolled blanket under your heels for extra support.
  • Do the pose against a wall or with a chair.

Three Legged Dog/Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana

Stretches: calves, hamstrings, shoulders, spine

How-To:

  • From Downward-Facing Dog, exhale and extend your right leg up and back.
  • Keep your hips level.
  • Alternate between flexing your right foot and pointing your toes several times.
  • Return to Downward-Facing Dog and repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Focus on the length of your spine rather than on straightening your leg.
  • Keep your body level; don’t dump all the weight on the left side.
  • Keep your neck and jaw relaxed.

Upward-Facing Dog/Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana

Stretches: entire front body

How-To:

  • Lie on your stomach.
  • With the legs hip-distance apart extended behind you, lay the tops of the feet flat on the mat.
  • Place your palms near the chest with your elbows bent, framing your ribs.
  • Your fingertips should point forward.
  • Press into the tops of your feet, flex your thighs and core and push the pelvis into the mat.
  • On an inhale, press firmly into your feet and hands and straighten your arms.
  • Your palms and tops of the feet should be the only parts of the body touching the mat.
  • Broaden through your collarbones and keep your shoulder blades squeezing back and down.
  • To release, slowly lower your body back on the ground as you exhale.

Tips:

  • Wrists, elbows, and shoulders should form one vertical line.
  • Keep the knees from sagging down to the ground by engaging the front of your thighs.

Modifications:

  • Place yoga blocks under your hands to gain more height.
  • Put a rolled blanket under your thighs for support.

Reverse Table Pose/Ardha Purvottanasana

Stretches: chest, shoulders

How-To:

  • Begin in a seated position with your legs extended.
  • Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor about hip-distance apart.
  • Lean back slightly with your torso and place your palms behind you with the fingertips spread and pointing towards your body.
  • Press into your hands and feet.
  • Breathe in and lift your hips up so that they’re in line with your knees and shoulders.
  • Keep your neck in line with your spine or let it drop back if that’s comfortable.
  • To release, lift your head, tuck your chin slightly as you lower your hips to the mat.

Tips:

  • Keep your knees hip-width apart; don’t let them cave in or splay to the sides.
  • Avoid locking your elbows. To do this, keep a small bend in your elbows while you’re in the pose.

Modifications:

  • Place a block or a bolster under your shoulders or hips to help you stay lifted.

Bridge Pose/Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Stretches: abdominals, chest, shoulders, neck

How-To:

  • Lie on your back with the arms alongside your body, palms facing down.
  • Bend your knees and place them about hip-width apart.
  • Inhale and root through your feet. Breathe out as you lift your pelvis towards the ceiling.
  • Flex your buttocks, abdominal muscles, and outer arms to lift yourself higher.
  • Broaden your shoulder blades and keep the chin away from the chest.
  • To release the pose, exhale and slowly lower down the spine to the ground one vertebra at a time.

Tips:

  • Keep the thighs parallel with each other.
  • Don’t harden your buttocks, but keep it engaged.
  • Relax your jaw and avoid moving your head in the pose.

Modifications:

  • Place a blanket under your shoulders to protect the neck.
  • Take a bolster or a yoga block and slide it under your tailbone for support.

Standing Forward Bend/Uttanasana

Stretches: hamstrings, back, spine

How-To:

  • Begin in a standing position (Mountain pose).
  • Distribute the weight of your body evenly across all four corners of the feet. Your feet can be positioned hip-distance or together with big toes touching and heels slightly apart.
  • Inhale and raise your arms overhead, palms facing each other.
  • Engage your core and the front of your thighs. Bend your knees slightly.
  • Exhale as you hinge forward from your hips.
  • If possible, bring your fingertips to the floor and imagine you’re trying to touch your chest to the knees.
  • To release, inhale as you lengthen the spine, bring your hands to your hips and raise your torso back to Mountain pose.

Tips:

  • Keeping a straight spine is more important than reaching the floor with your fingertips.
  • Don’t round your shoulders while coming forward. Draw the shoulder blades back and down your spine.
  • Lengthen on every inhale and bend a little bit deeper on every exhale.
  • Keep a micro-bend in your knees even if your hamstrings and lower back are very flexible.
  • Keep your neck relaxed.

Modifications:

  • Bend your knees as much as you need to keep your spine long.
  • If you can’t reach the floor with your fingertips, place your hands on whatever is accessible to you – knees, shins, yoga blocks.

Pyramid/Parsvottanasana

Stretches: hamstrings, hips, back, spine

How-To:

  • Start in a standing position (Mountain pose) with your feet slightly apart.
  • Step the left foot behind and rotate it to the left side at about 45-degree angle.
  • Inhale as you place your hands on the hips and lengthen your spine up to the sky.
  • Engage through your right thigh – your knee cap should lift.
  • Breath out and hinge at your hips, folding your torso over your right leg.
  • Press firmly through your both feet and engage your belly.
  • Keep your hips square. Often, it means you have to draw your right hip back and left hip forward.
  • Bring your fingertips to the mat and let your head hang heavy.
  • To release, press firmly into your feet and lift your torso.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Don’t place your feet in one line as you step the left foot behind. Instead, keep a hip-distance stance. It will help you keep the hips level.
  • Keep a micro-bend in your front knee.

Modifications:

  • Grab a pair of yoga blocks and place them outside your front foot. Lower your hands to the blocks as you fold over your front leg.
  • Instead of folding all the way down, fold your torso halfway to the ground. Keep your spine long.

Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend/Prasarita Padottanasana

Stretches: hamstrings, hips, groin muscles, back, spine

How-To:

  • Begin in a standing position (Mountain pose).
  • Step your right foot parallel to the short edge of the mat, so your feet are more than hip-width apart.
  • Your toes should face forward or should be slightly turned inward.
  • Engage through your thighs and place the hands on your hips.
  • Inhale and expand through your chest.
  • On an exhale, hinge at the hips and fold forward.
  • Place your fingertips under the shoulders. The crown of your head should point towards the mat.
  • Fold as deep as you can while keeping your spine long and chest open.
  • Relax your neck while in the pose.
  • Try to keep your hips and ankles in one line. You might need to shift the weight of your body slightly forward.
  • To release, place the hands on your hips and raise your torso while keeping a straight spine.

Tips:

  • Avoid rounding your back and hunching the shoulders. Don’t compromise the alignment of your spine just to reach your fingertips to the ground.
  • Draw your shoulder blades together and down your back.
  • Keep a micro-bend in your knees, even if your hamstrings are open.

Modifications:

  • Widen your stance and bend your knees as you fold your torso forward.
  • Place your hands on yoga blocks if you find it hard to reach the mat while keeping your spine elongated. Alternatively, you can place the crown of your head on stacked blocks once you folded forward.

Warrior II/Virabhadrasana II

Stretches: calves, hips, groin muscles, shoulders

How-To:

  • Start in a standing position (Mountain pose) with your feet slightly apart.
  • Step back with your left foot and turn your toes to the left at about 90 degrees. Turn your right toes slightly inward.
  • Breathe in, extend your arms to the sides, and bring them to shoulder height, palms facing down.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades and keep your chest open.
  • Breathe out and bend your front knee until the right thigh is parallel with the floor.
  • Rotate your front knee externally. You know you’re doing it right if you can see your right toes.
  • Press firmly through the outer edge of your left foot.
  • Engage your core muscles and gaze to the thumbs of your right hand.
  • To release, inhale and straighten your right leg. Lower your arms on an exhale.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Avoid collapsing your front knee inward. Engage your legs to press the knee open externally.
  • Don’t let your front ribs flare. Stay engaged through your belly and keep your lower back long.
  • Keep your torso upright without leaning too much forward or back.
  • Relax the shoulders away from the ears.

Modifications:

  • Place the back foot against the wall to help yourself with balance.
  • Widen the stance between your front and back feet. Instead of placing the back foot in a tightrope manner with the front foot, keep the feet hip-distance apart.

Low Lunge/Anjaneyasana

Stretches: hips, groin muscles, chest

How-To:

  • Begin in Downward-Facing Dog.
  • Inhale as you lift right foot straight behind you.
  • Step the foot forward in-between your hands as you exhale. Your back heel will lift off the mat.
  • Bend your front leg, so the thigh is parallel to the ground. Stack the front knee over the ankle.
  • Drop your back knee to the ground and untuck your toes.
  • Slide the reclined leg back to deepen into the stretch.
  • As you breathe in, contract your core and lift your torso upright as you sweep your arms overhead, palms facing each other.
  • Gaze up at your thumbs and slowly come into a gentle backbend.
  • Release the pose on an exhale.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Keep the core muscles engaged to protect the lower back.
  • Instead of pressing down with your hips, engage through your inner thighs as if you’re trying to scissor your legs together.
  • Make sure your front knee is pointing straight forward and not caving in or splashing out to the side.

Modifications:

  • Pad your back knee by folding a yoga mat or by placing a yoga blanket underneath.
  • Keep your hands on your front thigh, the floor, or blocks instead of raising your arms overhead.

Crescent Lunge Or High Lunge/Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana

Stretches: hips, chest

How-To:

  • Begin in Downward-Facing Dog.
  • Inhale as you lift right foot straight behind you.
  • Step the foot forward in-between your hands as you exhale. Your back heel will lift off the mat.
  • Bend your front leg, so the thigh is parallel to the ground. Alight the front knee over the ankle.
  • Engage your core muscles. Sweep your arms over the head and lift your torso upright while maintaining an active stance in your legs.
  • Keep the arms straight and parallel, palms facing each other.
  • Square your hips to the front of the mat. Often, it means you have to draw your right hip back and left hip forward.
  • Stay open through your chest.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Keep your front knee facing straight up. Don’t let it cave in or splash out to the side.
  • Root firmly through both legs. Avoid dumping all your weight to the front.
  • Stay aware of your lower back position. Keep the tailbone lengthened – often it means you have to tuck it slightly.

Modifications:

  • Keep both hands on the floor or yoga blocks instead of lifting your torso and arms. Be careful not to dump your weight onto the hands. Stay active in your legs and core.
  • To make the pose easier, drop the back knee to the mat.
  • Place your hands on the hips instead of lifting them overhead.

Garland Pose Or Deep Yogi Squat/Malasana

Stretches: ankles, hips, inner thighs, lower back

How-To:

  • Begin in a standing position (Mountain pose).
  • Press the palms of your hands together in a prayer position.
  • Place your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Turn your toes outwards.
  • Inhale and lengthen.
  • Exhale as you bend your knees and squat deeply.
  • Draw your chest open and slightly press your elbows into the knees, inviting them to open.
  • To release, press your palms into the mat and transition into a Standing Forward Bend as you exhale.
  • Slowly lift your torso.

Tips:

  • Firmly press your palms together at the heart center to create resistance in your upper body.
  • Don’t lift your heels off the mat.
  • Keep your spine lengthened from the crown of the head to your tailbone.
  • Your buttocks should be engaged to help the hips open more.

Modifications:

  • Sit on a yoga block or a bolster for additional support.
  • If you can’t keep your feet flat on the ground, roll up a yoga blanket and place it under your heels.
  • Bring your fingertips to the floor behind you if you find it hard to balance with your hands at your chest.

Side Lunge Or Half Squat Pose/Skandasana

Stretches: hips, groin muscles

How-To:

  • Start in Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend.
  • Bend your right knee and come into half-squat to the right.
  • Keep your right foot planted flat on the mat or lift on the balls of the foot.
  • Keep your left leg straight and your left foot flexed. Your left toes should point upward.
  • Place your hands on the floor in front of you for support.
  • Alternatively, bring the palms of the hands together at your heart into Prayer Mudra.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tips:

  • Keep your core muscles engaged.

Modifications:

  • Place a rolled blanket under the heel of your feet for support.
  • Place a block behind your buttocks if you’re struggling with balance.

Do you have any question about any of the given yoga poses? Let me know in the comments!

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