Which Yoga Is Best For Flexibility?
There are a plethora of benefits that one can take advantage of when it comes to incorporating a yoga practice into their wellness journey. Most of the time when people discuss these, they mention things like mental clarity and other mental and spiritual benefits. But there's a wealth of physical benefits as well, such as increased flexibility. Of course, there is also a multitude of different practices within the yoga realm and so knowing which one is best for flexibility might be beneficial.
Almost any type of yoga is going to increase your flexibility in some way or another. There are a few that specifically are targeted for this. Maybe one of the best yoga practices for flexibility is Hatha yoga. This yoga focuses on physical poses moving through a slow space which helps you build strength and increased flexibility. Others that are good for flexibility are vinyasa, hot, and yin.
So let's take a look at which yoga is best for flexibility. Along with this, we will look at a couple of other important things like poses that might be a good fit to help with your flexibility and why flexibility is so important in the first place.
Flexibility: Why Is It Important?
When most people think about physical activities, especially in regards to exercise, they'll automatically move to build muscle and strength. But flexibility is a key part of having a healthy body as well. Yoga is perfect for helping with flexibility, and by making this a focus of your wellness journey and health regimen, you will begin seeing the following benefits:
- Reduced Tension & Pain - Tension and tightness in the muscles can cause a lot of problems. Yoga, through its measured movements helps with flexibility which in turn will help relieve the tension and pain in your body through the stretching of those muscles.
- Lowers Stress - The tension that you house in your muscles sometimes is brought on about by stress, so relieving that tension is a way of getting rid of stress. Often after you're done with a yoga session, you'll find that your mind and body are way more relaxed, and this is partially due to flexibility.
- Better Circulation - One of the ways to stay as healthy as possible is to ensure that your circulation is good. Flexibility through the release of the tension and the stretching of the muscles allows for better blood flow. With this comes better muscle recovery, which also may mean that the flexibility you're looking to cultivate helps keep you from being sore and stiff after a yoga session.
- Range of Motion - Flexibility gives your body the ability for your joints to move easier. This means that you will have a wider range of motion which, in turn, could lead to a reduced chance of injury when executing physical activities.
- Improved Posture - People tend to slouch when they get tense. So by working on your flexibility through a yoga practice of your choice, you'll be able to improve your posture.
Types of Yoga Best for Flexibility
The answer to the question of what is the best type of yoga for flexibility is, in part, unanswerable. The truth is that all yoga practices, through their poses and movements, help one improve their flexibility. So you can choose any type of yoga and get the benefit of increased flexibility. However, several types of yoga are more popular than others and that heralds a good result when it comes to this attribute.
Here are the four options we think would be best for you:
Hatha yoga is maybe one of the most popular forms of yoga that came from the western boom in the 70s. Typically this is a yoga practice that has you moving through a set number of physical poses at a slower pace than other practices.
Most of those poses will be held for 30 seconds to a minute so that the individual can find the right alignment of their body and energies. Because of the slower-paced movement and the holding, it helps you strengthen your muscles as well as elevate your flexibility.
Vinyasa is a type of yoga that was born of Hatha. So you will see many of the same poses but executed in a faster manner. Each of these poses is tied together with breath work so that you are not only working on your physical body but your mental health as well. Most poses will be held for less than 30 seconds and are changed with an inhalation or exhalation of air.
Heat can help improve not only weight loss but also the elasticity of a muscle. That's why a hot yoga class could be a great idea for those looking to elevate their flexibility while burning a few calories. Depending on the style of yoga used in the hot yoga session will depend on what poses will be used.
Oftentimes this type of yoga is tied to Vinyasa or Bikram. If you use Bikram, you'll see 26 poses held for no more than 20 seconds as opposed to the 30-second hold of the poses and Vinyasa.
Utilizing the meditative aspects of yoga yin yoga helps you get more in tune with the poses and engage muscles more actively. The way this is done is by those poses being held for longer, sometimes up to two minutes or more. This gives you a deeper stretch, especially in the connective tissues, and that, in turn, will help elevate your flexibility.
Some Key Poses to Help With Flexibility
Knowing which type of yoga is best for flexibility is a great start to determining which option you're going to go with. but there are specific poses within these practices that are key to helping with flexibility. So we thought we'd take a look at four of the poses we think could help you begin to increase your flexibility:
This pose is intended to stretch out not only your legs and hips but your spine as well. It's perfect for balance and improves your posture as well as digestion. You'll want to start by standing with your left foot in front of you and your right foot behind you with your foot angled slightly.
Make sure you have your hips facing forward and then place your hands on them. Next, bend at the hips and fold forward. Once you've completed that fold, drop your hands to the floor and then hold this pose for up to a minute before coming back to your original position. Then swap out the feet and repeat the process.
Head to Knee
If you're looking to improve your hips, thighs, and back flexibility, this poses a great option. It also helps improve blood circulation in your lower body and can be a key pose to helping get rid of some stress. You want to sit with your right leg extended in front of you. Bend your left knee out to the side, and then press your left foot into your right inner thigh. As you're doing this, breathe in and sit up tall. While doing this, slowly raise your arms over your head and then breathe out as you bend at the hips forward. Hold this pose for up to two minutes and then switch legs and repeat.
This yoga pose helps with mobility as well as flexibility, especially in your neck, shoulders, core, and spine. Get down on the floor on all floors with your hands spread beneath your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Then balance your weight across your body. You're going to breathe in then and drop your stomach toward the floor.
As you do this, your tailbone, chest, and chin should rise. Breathe out and then press your hands as your back rounds. As you do this, tuck your chin into your chest, and you'll see that your spine rises. Do this for a minute for the best results.
For those that have an office or a desk job, this pose is great because it stretches the muscles primarily used when sitting. (If you have neck, shoulder, or back pain, this may not be a great option for you). Start by lying face down and placing your arms along your body.
Then you're going to bend your knees and then reach out to grab your ankles with your hands. Once you have a hold of it, you're going to lift your chest and shoulders and allow your head to remain facing forward. Take deep breaths and hold them for 30 seconds before releasing. Repeat this several times.
Yoga has a ton of benefits and one of the biggest among them is the improved flexibility you can garner from a consistent practice. The truth is, there is no yoga that is best for flexibility because all of them focus on movement and mobility.
This focus allows for all of them to deliver a heightened level of flexibility, so you are good with whatever you choose, though either Hatha or hot yoga may be better at delivering the results you're looking for.