Yoga poses don’t have to be complicated to be effective at increasing flexibility and mobility in the joints and surrounding tissues. When we think of gaining flexibility, we should aim to create as much balance around a joint so that it is not pulled on unevenly. A joint is where two bones come together and move.
For example, because of the amount of time we spend in one position, either sitting or standing, the hip joints are often restricted and feel less flexible.
Creating mobility in the hip joint through some simple movements will help the hips feel more mobile and spacious.
1. Goddess squat: bring your feet wider than shoulder distance apart and slightly turn the toes out. Bring one hand in front on your abdomen and one hand on your low back and press the hands together to keep the pelvis more neutral. Bend your knees without changing the length of the spine. You can add a slight pulse up and down to open up the inner thighs.
2. Crescent lunge: Bring your left foot in front in your right foot in back on two parallel lines. Bring the hands behind your head and move your skull back into your hands with the elbows pointing out to the sides. Lightly bend your right knee to feel an opening across the right front hip. Hold for 10 breaths. Repeat with the right foot forward as well.
3. Down Dog: start in quadruped, on all fours with the wrist under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Tuck your toes and lift your hips straight up to the ceiling. Start to put more weight into the feet without shifting the weight off of the hands. The knees can stay as bent as needed to feel the lengthening in the back, hamstrings and calves. Hold for 10 breaths.
4. Warrior 2 variation: stand with your feet wide apart, turn your left foot 90° and bend your left knee, coming into left warrior two pose. Bring your left forearm on your left thigh, and reach the right arm over your right ear, while lifting the left rib cage away from the left thigh. The top arm will help to stretch the side body and down to the pelvis.
How we move and build strength is a combination of nature and nurture. You can work on the different type of muscle firing through purposeful exercises to gain strength or speed or both.