Some of us are born more flexible than others, but we can all benefit from improving our flexibility through active stretches practiced regularly. Stretching offers a great number of benefits such as improving circulation and posture, reducing the risk of injury, increasing range of motion, bettering physical performance, and allowing the body to use up less energy when active. Essentially, the more flexible you are, the less stress you're putting on your body—both on muscles and joints but also energy expenditure. To practice safe stretching that will help us attain these many benefits, we reached out to L.A. yoga instructor Alexis Novak to share and demonstrate her top three stretches for flexibility.
Practicing a modification of the Prasarita Padottanasana, a wide-legged forward-bend, can help safely ease you into leg flexibility. Stand wide-legged two to three feet from a chair or table and lean forward, bending at the hips. Flatten your back with arms outstretched by your ears, hands resting on the chair or table. "This helps stretch hamstrings without straining your back until you have more flexibility," explains Novak.
Reclined Figure Four
"This is a variation of pigeon and a great way to stretch the hip/gluteal complex without the harass pressure of pigeon," notes Novak. Lie on your back with your bum near a wall. Bring your legs up with one bent at a 90-degree angle and the other bent inward with your ankle resting on the other leg's thigh.
This position is Anjaneyasana with a block assist on the outer thigh. "This helps support your hip flexor and knee until you build the strength to stretch the groin and hamstring," says Novak. Get into a deep lunge then place a block at the front of the back thigh to support it.