Yoga has been a major trend in the United States since the 1960s when yoga centres sprang up like mushrooms. Since then, it has been a part of the daily routine for millions of Americans. Although a century ago not many people heard about yoga in the Western world, nowadays no one is surprised by the sight of people in weird poses on blankets in parks, beaches, or forests.
Yoga has been proven to have many benefits for our minds and bodies, so if you haven’t jumped on this bandwagon by now, you should give it a try. In a moment, I’ll explain why you should consider starting your adventure with yoga for beginners, and I’ll also show you poses that are excellent if your goal is to improve your flexibility. Let’s go!
Why Taking up Yoga Is a Good Idea?
Your neighbours are doing it, your wife is doing it, even your arrogant work colleague is going on about Kriya yoga and what have ou. We are talking about yoga – its popularity has reached the current level because it provides a wide variety of benefits.
- Reduces stress. The studies show that yoga can help you deal with stress by decreasing your cortisol levels. There are probably dozens of different stress factors present in your life, and getting rid of all of them might simply be unattainable. That’s why it is essential to find ways to relax after a difficult day at work. You might be tempted to spend several hours in front of the TV, but a 40-minute yoga session would be more efficient at helping you destress.
- Reduces chronic pain. Most people spend their days sitting – in their office, in their home while working, or while relaxing by reading books or playing games. Our muscles are not used to remaining in those often awkward positions for long hours, which makes them tense and aching. Yoga, or even stretching, can be helpful when trying to reduce the intensity of the chronic pain that you’re experiencing. According to the experts at Primal Harvest, eating foods rich in collagen or supplementation could be helpful in this regard as well.
- Improves mood. Physical activity is often recommended as having a positive effect on our mood. That’s because it increases our dopamine and serotonin levels, both of which are essential neurotransmitters responsible for our mood, but also motivation levels. If they are low, we might dwell on the negative aspects of our existence, and be unable to deal with our responsibilities. However, yoga’s focus on being in the moment is even better than weight-lifting if you want to achieve a calm mind. You could look at yoga as combining physical activity and meditation, both of which are excellent for the proper functioning of our brain.
At the same time, apart from helping to deal with chronic pain, yoga can also help you avoid injuries that could lead to it. Yoga is often chosen by people who want to improve their flexibility. Even if you go to the gym regularly, staying in some of the yoga positions for half a minute is extremely difficult.
After your first yoga session, you might find out that some of your muscles are underdeveloped, and it’s not surprising. After a while, your body will get accustomed to this type of physical activity; just remember to let your body rest, as you don’t want to over-train yourself.
Below you will find 4 yoga poses for flexibility.
Yoga Poses for Flexibility
To do this pose, place your left foot forward and a little bit out to the left. Turn your right feet out at 45*. Now, with hands-on your hips, bend forward and try to touch the floor with your hands. Try to remain in this position for 30 seconds. You’ll discover that it’s harder than it sounds. After those 30 surprisingly long seconds have passed, reverse the position of your legs, and follow the same steps.
Though you might be hearing the name of this pose for the first time, the chances are you’ve done a similar exercise in the past. While sitting on the mat, extend your right leg forward, and place your left leg at the 45* angle, so that your right foot will touch your left leg. Then, extend your arms toward your right foot, and grab it with both hands. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Afterwards, extend your left leg forward, place the right leg at the same angle, and repeat the steps.
If you are not a fan of squatting, this exercise might not be your favourite as well, but just like Gomukhasana, it is excellent for flexibility. Place your feet around 12 inches apart. Then, turn your feet out, and switch to the squat position, with your butt low, almost touching the ground. With your elbows pointing downward, fold your hands in the middle. Try to remain in this position for 30 seconds, though if your posterior chain muscles are not trained, it might be too difficult. However, this exercise is excellent for flexibility, and it helps you develop the muscles that are weak if you spend a lot of time sitting.
First, lie down on your stomach on a mat. Now, bend your knees, and try to touch your butt with your feet. Now, grab your ankles with both hands. Then, lift your chest off the floor, and do the same with your thighs with your gaze forward. Try to maintain this position for 30 seconds, and stop if you feel pain in your neck. It’s certainly not one of the easiest yoga poses, but it’s great for the flexibility of your core muscles.
If you are just starting your journey with yoga, do check out my recommendation of yoga books to complement your learning. You might still be surprised by the number of different muscles that are sore after a yoga session. However, worry not – it’s perfectly normal! If your goal is to increase your flexibility, yoga is one of the best choices available, as apart from the physical prowess, you’ll also help your mind be in the present moment, something about which we often forget.
Apart from that, if you do yoga several times a week, you’ll notice that your mood has improved, which is the consequence of the increased levels of neurotransmitters, serotonin, and dopamine. Even though flexibility might be your primary goal, let’s not forget about another aspect – yoga is quite fun, and you don’t have to pay anything, as you can start doing yoga in your own house!