Yoga is an amazing practice for lengthening, strengthening, and opening up the joints and muscles of the body.
By doing these poses regularly, you’ll see a vast improvement in the flexibility of your body. Tight muscles can cause discomfort, pain, and can limit your range of motion.
Opening up into your body can help increase comfort and prevent injuries.
Practice yoga for flexibility and choose from the poses below, categorized by level, related to the areas that you want to work into.
Beginner Yoga Poses
Half pigeon is a pose you’ll find in a lot of yoga flows. That’s because it’s a wonderful hip opener and can help you build flexibility in your hips, glutes, and quads.
Always make sure your hips are squared to protect your knees and joints.
Learn the pose here.
Bound Angle Pose
You might know of this pose as “butterfly.” This helps stretch out your inner thighs but can also help you work on your flexibility.
The more open your body is, the lower your legs will fall. Then, when you lengthen from the crown of your head and lean forward, you work on your hip flexibility.
Get into bound angle pose here.
Downward Facing Dog
This is a classic pose as far as yoga for flexibility goes. It will help stretch out and build flexibility in your hamstrings.
Always aim to get your heels as close to the ground as possible. The more you do this pose, the more flexible you’ll be and the closer those heels will get to your mat.
This is a great pose for flexibility because it’s in almost every yoga sequence so you’ll be able to judge your progress frequently.
Follow along here.
Seated Forward Fold
This is a classic posture, even outside of yoga. The forward fold is one of the ultimate tests of hamstring flexibility.
It’s important to activate your core to keep your lower back protected, and always bend with your spine straight, rather than arched.
Work down slowly and never push it to the point of pain. Doing this pose regularly is a relaxing stretch and posture for developing flexibility.
If you need a little instruction, you can follow along here.
Standing Forward Fold
This posture is super similar to the seated forward fold, though standing adds an extra element of balance.
Bend with a flat back, always and try to get your nose as close as possible to your shins without pushing to the point of pain.
If need be, you can keep your knees slightly bent when you’re first working into this pose in order to protect your lower back, and then slowly straighten your legs as your body opens up.
Learn how to forward fold in this video.
Happy Baby Pose
This is a very common pose in yoga and it’s a great way to add a little length into your inner thighs, glutes, and hips.
You can stretch your legs out or keep them bent. By extending your legs you’ll also build flexibility in your hamstrings and quads.
Keep them bent and open your inner thighs and hip joints. Learn how here.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
This posture is amazing for your hamstring and inner thigh flexibility. It opens up your lower back, legs, calves, and thighs for complete lower body flexibility.
It’s also gentler than a forward fold because your hamstrings are bearing the brunt of the stretch on their own.
Remember, to keep your back flat as you fold. Get more instructions here.
Intermediate Yoga Poses
Yoga for flexibility doesn’t just have to be confined to your legs. I find camel pose to be more intermediate because you’re working into the flexibility of the spine.
If you don’t do the pose correctly, you can injure your back or neck.
Camel pose is a great backbending pose that can help open your chest as well as your spine. It’s important to work into it gradually and slowly for safety.
For proper form, you can check out this video!
Half Frog Pose
Got tight quads? This is the perfect pose for you.
It’s a slight back bend with a supine twist and will help create tons of length in your quads.
Make sure your hips are squared and prevent the hip of your lifted leg from popping up.
Work into it safely here.
This is my absolute favorite hip opener. Yoga for flexibility isn’t just about lengthening. It’s about opening tight spots too.
Tight hips are not only uncomfortable and painful, but they can also contribute to back pain and poor posture.
This pose will help open up your hips and quads for greater comfort and flexibility all over.
Work into your low lunge here.
One-Legged King Pigeon
One legged pigeon is intermediate because it works flexibility in your spine, quads, and hips. This pose requires a lot of flexibility both in your legs and spine in order to get into it, so it’s important to listen to your body and work into it slowly.
Start with half pigeon and then build up to this. Make sure your hips are squared. The hip of your back leg shouldn’t be popping up.
Follow instructions for this pose and its variations in this video.
I love this pose because it’s great for helping you work into the long lines of your body.
You’ll work through your calves and hamstrings to build flexibility in your legs as you fold over your front facing leg.
Keep your back flat as you fold and your back foot should be at 45-degree angle as if you were in Warrior I.
Build your pyramid here.
Extended Triangle Pose
Extended Triangle is perfect for stretching into your inner thighs calves and side body.
It’s somewhat similar to pyramid, though there are key differences such as the position of your back foot. Your back foot should be parallel to the back edge of your mat, as if in Warrior II, and your hips will open as you extend your upper arm.
The great thing about this pose is that there are plenty of ways to modify it. Learn how here.
Extended Side Angle Pose
This is very similar to extended triangle, except you’ll bend into your front knee. Some people find this pose a little easier to get into since the bend in your front knee gets your torso lower to the ground naturally.
This pose builds flexibility in your inner thighs and side body and spine. Learn the form here.
Advanced Yoga Poses
Bird of Paradise
Bird of Paradise is an amazing challenge for both your flexibility and your balance. It combines a leg extension with a bind.
This is great for practitioners who are looking for a challenge and to build upon their existing hamstring flexibility.
I find that if you have tight hips, it can be difficult to keep your leg lifted. If this rings true for you, try some hip openers before going into bird of paradise.
Learn the pose here.
This pose is particularly challenging because it not only requires lots of flexibility in the hamstrings, but also balance as well.
Thea great thing about yoga is that there are modifications for so many poses, so you can work from your modification into the full pose over time.
With standing splits, you want to work on getting your leg as high off the ground and parallel to your other leg as possible. Many people keep their hands on the ground for stabilization.
See how it’s done in this video.
This is a full splits pose, so make sure your muscles are fully warmed up before you work into this pose.
Working into your splits is great for building flexibility in your calves and hamstrings.
Learn how to warm up your muscles to prepare them for monkey pose here.
Reclining Hero Pose
This is an amazing pose for lengthening your quads and opening your hips. Because you’ll be reclining backwards, remember you keep your lower abs drawn in to protect your lower back from pressure.
You’ll also want to roll your inner thighs in and down instead of letting them splay out the sides for an active posture.
View the form here.
Wild thing is one of my favorite poses because it opens your chest, hips, and heart. It involves a slight backbend, but feels amazing when you need to open up tight hips.
You need to enter the pose safely. Most of the time you get into wild thing from side plank. You can learn how here.
Extended Hand To Big Toe Pose
You’ll work into your inner thighs and hamstrings with this pose. Start by standing in tadasana, then lift your knee up parallel to the ground. Then, extend the leg out straight in front of you and grab your big toe with the first two fingers of your hand.
Extend the leg out to the side for an inner thigh stretch. You can always use a yoga strap to help.
Learn how here.
Remember, consistency is more important than how deeply you can stretch into a pose when practicing yoga for flexibility. The more regularly you do these poses, the more flexibility you’ll build.
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