It needs no convincing that adding Yoga to your daily routine has abundant benefits. Something as simple as a five-minute flow can be incredibly rewarding! Stretching, a vital part of yoga has numerous positives -there are some yoga stretches to revitalize your daily life.
1. Enhanced Muscle Health
The most evident merit of stretching is to relieve stiff, sore muscles. Whether it’s from a tough game from your last football weekend or from sitting at a desk all day, stretching almost instantly releases the tension and alleviates the stiffness.
2. Quickest Stress Reliever
Today, stress is one of the biggest threats to mental and physical health, with almost 63% of the population suffering from it. Stretching is one of the easiest and quickest ways to combat stress. A brief stretch with proper deep breathing provides repose and the much-needed clarity during the day.
3. Increased Flexibility and Range of Motion
Our body is inextricably connected; every bone and muscle; every joint and ligament. If any of the muscles around a joint aren’t flexible, movement efficiency decreases considerably, limiting your full range of motion and can cause serious injuries. Regular stretching keeps the muscles from cramping and overtime will even increase your range of motion!
4. Improved Blood Circulation
Regular stretching improves the circulation of blood across your body. This improves blood flow to your muscles and drastically reduces recovery time and muscle soreness.
All in all, a few minutes invested in stretching every day, is indispensable for a healthy lifestyle. Yoga may seem difficult to pursue, but in actuality, it is not demanding at all. A few poses every day and you’re guaranteed to see the difference in how your body feels.
Here are 10 yoga stretches that you must add to your daily workout regime-
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog):
Purpose – To finely stretch your back, hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon.
- Begin with a tabletop position, with your hands aligned to your shoulders and fingers spread wide.
- Tuck your toes and gently raise your body by the hips whilst straightening your elbows and knees, forming the shape of an inverted ‘V’.
- Ensure that your toes point outwards, ears touch your inner arms allowing you to gaze at your navel.
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward facing dog):
Purpose – To open your chest and shoulders for a better posture.
- Begin with lying flat on the ground, belly facing the floor, top of your feet positioned downwards and elbows folded on either side.
- Gently straighten your arms and raise your knees, hips and torso off the mat, thereby evenly sharing your body weight onto your palms and the top of your feet.
- Look ahead and slightly bend your head backward.
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds
Tiryaka Tadasana (Swaying palm tree pose):
Purpose – To lengthen a compressed spine and release a tight back.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart, raise your arms straight up over your head and interlock your fingers, palm facing upwards.
- Gently bend your body towards your right side whilst exhaling by lowering your right arm and extending your left arm over your head.
- Hold for a few seconds and inhale and return to the center and repeat the same on the left side.
Uttanasana (Standing forward bend):
Purpose: To release back pain by stretching throughout – the soles of your feet, back of your legs and the entire spine.
- Inhale and stand tall on your feet with hands on either side of your body.
- Exhale and gently bend forward, curving from your hip bone.
- Stretch forward and extend your knees until you feel your back elongate and the pull in your hamstrings.
Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Horse-riding pose):
Purpose – To stretch the lower abdomen, hips, psoas, groin, pelvis, quadriceps, hamstrings, knee, ankle and toes.
- Begin with being in a Vajrasana pose. Next, gently stand on your knees holding your feet together.
- Bring your right leg forward such that it forms a 90-degree angle between the calf and the thigh.
- Ensure that your knee is in alignment with your ankle and place your arms on either side of the right leg.
- With your left knee resting on the floor, look upwards whilst maintaining your balance with your fingers touching the ground.
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining hand-to-big-toe pose):
Purpose – To increase the circulation and vitality to the pelvis by stretching your hips, thighs, hamstrings and calves.
- Begin with resting on your back, legs extended and feet flexed.
- Exhale and bring your right knee towards your chest. On doing so, hook onto the big toe with two of your fingers. In case you find that to be difficult, encircle the arch of your right foot with a strap.
- Next, extend and straighten your right leg upwards. Ensure that your arms are linear and shoulders are pressed onto the floor.
- Alongside, gradually outstretch your left leg and push your left thigh down with your left hand whilst feeling the stretch in your right leg.
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds or as long as you’re comfortable, and then repeat the same with the left leg positioned upwards.
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Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose):
Purpose – to open your chest and shoulders, provide a good stretch to your hip flexors and thighs and strengthen your back, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Begin with resting on your back and arms placed on either side of your body facing downwards.
- Gently bend your knees and place your feet on the floor hip-width apart. Ensure that ankles and knees are aligned with each other.
- Inhale and gradually raise your lower, middle and upper back off the floor.
- Roll in your shoulders, fingers interlaced, and touch your chin to your chest.
- Push your arms against the ground to lift your body higher. While doing so, allow your shoulders, arms and feet to support your weight.
- Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds. Exhale when you release the pose.
Frog pose (Mandukasana):
Purpose – to open and stretch the hips, groin and inner thighs.
- Begin with a tabletop position with your hands aligned to your shoulders and knees aligned to your hips.
- Gently bend your knees out to the sides and flex your feet to the ground, toes facing outwards.
- Allow your pelvis to sink and come down onto your forearms. Keep your spine erect and head forward.
- Hold this pose for as long as you are comfortable and practice mindful breathing whilst feeling the stretch.
Parivirta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved head-to-knee pose):
Purpose – to stimulate your digestive system by stretching your neck, shoulders, spine, and back of your legs.
Begin with sitting on the ground, legs stretched forward. Gently bring the sole of your left foot in, towards your right inner thigh.
- Begin with sitting on the ground, legs stretched forward. Gently bring the sole of your left foot in, towards your right inner thigh.
- Rotate your chest towards your bent knee. Place your right hand on the left thigh; lift your ribcage up, away from your pelvis and focus on the twist in the upper torso.
- Inhale as you bring the left arm up and exhale as you bend sideways to your right. Press down into your bottom arm and allow your face and chest to rotate upward.
- Next, attempt to link your left hand to your right outer foot. It is okay to slightly bend your outstretched leg while doing so.
- Hold on to this pose for as long as you are comfortable.
Ustrasana (Camel pose):
Purpose: to massage the internal organs by opening your chest and stretching your shoulders and abdominal wall.
- Begin with kneeling on the ground and placing your hands on your hips.
- Ensure that your knees are aligned to your shoulders and soles of your feet facing upwards.
- Inhale and draw your tailbone towards the pubis as if pulled from the navel. Simultaneously, gently arch your back and slide your palms over your feet, feeling a lift through the shoulders.
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds and exhale as you release the pose.