8 Yoga Poses for Balance and Flexibility
Babes! Thank you SO much for the awesome reception I got for my first yoga post! Because you all loved that one so much, I have a second edition for you! This one is going to focus on balance and flexibility. Some of these poses may seem intimidating, and you will fall over (I know I still do sometimes!), but go ahead and give it a go! I've also included links at the bottom for videos a la Yoga with Adriene for actual at home practice!
Pigeon pose is my favorite stretch for hip opening, which is a key element for increasing flexibility. Alternate which leg is forward and start with your heart lifted like I am in the photo. Keep a strong core foundation and lift up while your hips sink down. For a deeper stretch, lean forward onto our elbows and rest your forhead on the ground.
2) forward fold
Essential to every yoga practice is a nice, standing forward fold. Stand with your feet hip width a part and let all your weight hang down toward your feet. I typically clasp my elbows at first and sway side to side to open up my hamstrings. Then I'll let my hands fall to the ground. A slight bend in your knees helps with stability and to prevent knee locking and pain.
3) warrior 3
Stick pose is a wonderful mix of balance, flexibility, and increasing core strength! To get into this pose, start standing with your feet together, lift one knee off the ground, and bend forward as you extend the lifted leg toward the back edge of your mat. Traditional warrior 3 pose has the arms reaching out above the head, but I like to do airplane arms (shown above) because it gives a good back and shoulder stretch!
No lie, this pose is extremely difficult! It took quite a few takes for me to be able to hold this long enough without falling over :P But everyone needs goals, right? To get into this pose, start standing with your feet together facing the front edge of your mat. Kick one foot up toward your butt and grab the top side of your foot. Slowly extend toward the sky and reach forward with the opposite hand.
My personal favorite standing pose! Because it's relaxing, easy, and I'm tall so the fact that it is called tree is awesome :P This pose is nice and simple...start with your feet together, raise one knee up toward the sky, then rotate the hip out. For assistance, grab your foot and place it where your flexibility allows (either on the ankle, shin or thigh, but do not place your foot on your knee!)
I combined two poses here for optimum practice with balance and flexibility. Start with your arms...take one arm under your other and cross at the elbows then again at the wrists for a double bind. For the legs, start your feet together, toes facing forward. Lift one knee up, cross the ankle over the opposite thigh, and sink down while flexing your foot.
Sorry guys can't get away with no major core strengthening poses! Your core is so essential for any balancing posture, and no matter how hard you concentrate, without a strong foundation, you're goin to fall. For a still core pose, try boat! Lift both legs so the shins are as close to parallel with the ceiling as possible. I like to cross at the ankles and flex my feet for a little added stability.
8) reclined hamstring stretch
End your practice with some reclined stretches such as this hamstring stretch. You can use a towel or yoga band instead of your hands if you want and added pull as well. Place your hands either behind your thigh, calf or foot and pull gently toward your face.
And as promised, here are two awesome videos for you guys to try out! Happy yoga-ing!