Best 4 Yoga Poses to Reduce Stiffness & Increase Flexibility

I was chatting with someone after class last week and they asked me “What four poses would you recommend to do at home when I’m feeling really stiff after work and can’t make it in for a class?” 

This was tough because there are SO many fantastic poses and exercises but these are the four poses that I recommended to her and I though everyone would benefit from these 4 poses at home! They cover the lower body, upper body and spine and they are relaxing as well so will help to reduce stress too. You will feel better immediately after you’ve done them. These are especially great for people who spend a lot of time sitting and anyone who suffers from back pain will get a lot out of these too. And good news, they can be done daily and all in under 10 minutes! 

POSE 1: Low lunge with side bend

BENEFITS: This is a great anti-sitting pose that also helps you feel calm, focused and stretched. It stretches the hips, front of the leg, muscles around the knee, arms, neck, chest and side body. It also strengthens the legs, shoulders, and arms. It engages and strengthens the deep, inner core muscles, which are needed to create stability. The feet and ankles are also stretched and strengthened in the pose. 

HOW TO: From all fours, step your right foot forward. Rise up to a kneeling position, place something under your knee if you need to. The knee should be over the ankle here.

Feel the tailbone lengthen and then start to move the hips forward, keeping the ribs over the hips. 

Stretch the arms up overhead and then hold your left wrist and gently pull the wrist over to the right.

Keep lengthening through the tailbone and reach through the crown of your head to open through the front of the hip and your side body. 

Hold for a minute then repeat on the other side.

Pose 2: Thread the needle 

BENEFITS: Thread the Needle Pose stretches and opens the shoulders, chest, arms, upper back, and neck. It releases tension that is commonly held in the upper back and between the shoulder blades. This pose also provides a gentle twist to the spine, which creates more movement and less pain for your spine and back.

HOW TO: As you take a breath in, lift your right arm up to the top corner and look at it. On your breath out, slide your right arm underneath your left arm with your palm facing up. Repeat this three times and the last time let your right shoulder come all the way down to the mat and hold here. Rest your right ear and cheek on the mat and gaze toward your left. Extend the left arm to the top of your mat. Stay for five breaths here. 

Repeat sequence on the other side

POSE 3: Reclined Hamstring stretch with strap

BENEFITS: This pose is a fantastic stretch for the hips, hamstrings, and calves as well strengthening the muscles around the knees. Also incredibly helpful in helping to relieve lower back pain.

HOW TO: Lie down on your back, with knees bent. Extend your right leg into the air (the knee can be bent if you need to) and place the strap around the ball of your foot. Pull down on the strap and feel the length and stretch through the back of your right leg. (NB If you don’t have a Yoga strap, grab a scarf or a belt instead.)

You can straighten the left  leg out on your mat to release though the front of the left thigh. Stay here for one minute then gently move the leg across the midline of the body for a more intense stretch. Hold here for another 30 secs.

Pose 4: Reclined pigeon stretch

BENEFITS: This pose is amazing for opening the legs and hips. It stretches some of the deep muscles of the hips and releases around the sciatic nerve. It also lengthens the IT band, which runs along the outside of the leg. Tightness of the IT band can cause pain in the knees so this stretch is amazing for both knees, hips and lower back. It’s also deeply relaxing and calming. 

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. 

Cross your right ankle over your left knee, with your right knee sticking out to the side. Lift your left foot off the floor and reach behind the hamstring on your left leg and hug it toward your chest as you open your right knee. (For a deeper stretch you can hold in front of your knee) Keep your head flat on the floor by tucking your chin down, you might need a blanket under your head for this. Tailbone keeps lengthening down towards the floor too.  

Hold for one minute then repeat on the other side.

That’s it, a short sequence to get you unstuck and feeling amazing. 

Comment below which is your favourite stretch!