Doing Ashtanga and other challenging yoga practices require a high level of body flexibility. It’s not enough that you can touch your toes. You should have full body ability to contort without the risk of injuries and cramps. This is where yoga poses for extreme flexibility are helpful. Many yogis face the risk of injuries in the mat because of improper stretching. If you have these asanas on your warm-up list, you’ll observe easier practice.
However, it’s important to remember that some of these poses might not be safe for people who already have underlying injuries. As much as these are helpful for physically fit yogis, it’s still advisable to proceed with caution.
1. Downward Facing Dog
The popularity of this pose isn’t for naught. Downward Facing Dog is one of the easiest asanas in the Ashtanga practice. Also, it holds a lot of benefits to the body as it stretches almost the entire muscle groups. However, some newbies may find it hard to have their legs all stretched. In this case, some variation allows the slight bending of the knees.
It may be a bit hard but it does a large favor on your hamstrings, calves, shoulders, hands, and arches. Not all Ashtanga poses can give such flexibility to all parts of the body. It targets two of the most important parts of the body if you’re just starting with yoga poses for extreme flexibility: arms and legs.
Aside from making the body more flexible, Downward Facing Dog also gives therapeutic effects like easing asthma, sciatica, high blood pressure, and flat feet. It’s also advantageous for women suffering from menstrual cramps and osteoporosis.
2. Cow Face Pose
As one of the seating postures, this may look easy. It consists of intertwined legs and arms reaching each one to the back. You might probably have done this when you’re younger which leads me to believe that you have one good flexy asana here. Anyway, people who have tight shoulders may struggle on this as they won’t hook their fingers at the back. If this is the case, you can use a strap to compensate for the gap.
Cow Face Pose stretches the hips, arms, thighs, armpits, and other parts of your limbs. For me, it’s easier than the Downward Facing Dog and this rarely needs the assistance of a yoga teacher. If you’re a beginner, it would be best to cushion your sitting bones with a folded blanket.
If you do these yoga poses for extreme flexibility, don’ forget to alternate the stretch of your arms and legs. Some people find it hard to clasp their hands on the other direction so you can use a band in such cases.
3. Reclining Pose
The reclining pose may look pretty easy but if you can’t comfortably sit your buttocks, you shouldn’t do this one. It takes a lot of back arching and if you’re not into intermediate asanas, this will be harmful to you. If you have back issues, you should do this under the watch of a yoga instructor.
The reclining pose consists of two variations. The advance one is fully reclining on the floor with bent feet on the side. This takes a lot of flexibility so for beginners who are just starting to stretch, they can use a folded blanket or piled pillow to elevate the surface.
If done well, this will benefit your back, feet, and knees. These are important parts of your body that you need to sustain to keep going on your postures. It’s also helpful for digestion, respiratory, and blood pressure problems.
4. Noose Pose
This pose takes inspiration from the noose knot as the arms are wrapped around your legs. If you’re an advanced or intermediate student looking for yoga poses for extreme flexibility, the noose pose is perfect for you. Since this will include twisting the torso, you’ll need a partner to guide you. Some practitioners of this pose want to deepen the twist. This will give more flexibility to the body but should be executed well.
The noose pose helps ease tension in the shoulder, back, and neck. Just remember that you should observe proper squatting to avoid injuries. Too deep squats are taxing in the knees and lower back. It’s advisable to start this asana while you’re sitting on a chair so you can focus first on executing the arms form.
Make sure to pair this with the proper breathing so you can also reap other benefits like improved digestion, less flatulence, and less menstrual cramps.
5. Standing Forward Bend
Standing poses are one of the beginners’ series of postures. It’s simpler and if you choose it right, you’re going to make the most out of its flexibility features. The Standing Forward Bend isn’t a piece of cake. It requires hamstring flexibility first so you can prevent tears on your Achilles heel. I suggest that you practice other yoga poses for extreme flexibility first that will improve your hamstrings.
If you can’t do this one yet, you can bend your knees while folding the torso. This will lessen the stress on your thigh muscles without giving away much of the flexibility benefits. If executed properly, it will make wonders on your thigh muscles especially the calf. It will also strengthen your knees and hips.
I suggest that you ask a teacher to guide you if you’re doing this for the first time. If you’re having trouble balancing yourself, you can press your buttocks on a wall with your feet at least six inches away from it.
6. Garland Pose
The Garland Pose is way easy compared to the postures I listed earlier. This doesn’t include any twisting and the only issue might be your squatting position. Some may find it hard to balance on such pose so it would be fine to sit on the edge of a chair. If you can’t plant your heels on the ground, you can use a folded blanket to cushion it. With variations of yoga poses for extreme flexibility, it would be easier for you to execute this without a teacher.
If you do this regularly, you’ll experience more flexible torso, ankles, and groins. This will largely help in toning your tummy so you can execute twisty postures in the future. Overall, this is a level 1 posture that even newbies can practice. Just observe caution if you have pre-existing back injuries.
You can hold this pose up to a minute then start with the Uttasana pose for reps.
7. Extended Triangle Pose
If you want to level up your flexibility poses, the Extended Triangle Pose will be a wise addition. It’s a powerhouse of muscle flexing as it uses your thighs, arms, neck, hips, and back. If you have neck issues, you can skip the upward facing position and you can lean on a wall if you have trouble with balance.
Another problem you might face with this posture is the inability of your hands to reach the floor. This happens a lot and you can use a block to compensate for the gap. It’s also a requirement to do this while leaning on a wall if you have heart problems. If you have high blood pressure, you can gaze on the floor instead of the ceiling.
Your spine will benefit a lot from this posture not to mention the flexibility it will give to your limbs. Even pregnant women up to the second trimester can practice this to reduce back pain.
8. Fire Log Pose
If you’re a total beginner, the Fire Log Pose could be one of your perfect yoga poses for extreme flexibility. It intertwines the legs while it stretches the outer hips. This is important so you can prevent sciatic pain that’s likely to happen in your yoga practice.
Before doing this, make sure that you’re not experiencing back pain and knee issues. You should also sit on the edge of a folded blanket so your buttocks have steady support. This will flex your hips and groin that are crucial body parts when it comes to advance asanas.
I suggest that you do basic stretching so you’ll release the hips. It may become tight over time if you’re not practicing yoga regularly. If paired with proper breathing, the Fire Log Pose will be an easy choice. If you’re not confident that you can nail this, you can ask a friend or a yoga teacher to spot you.
9. One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
If you think you’re prepared for a higher level of flexibility, you should check the One-Legged King Pigeon Pose. This will require you to resemble a pigeon by arching your back a lot and flexing your limbs. You should know first if you have tight hips and knees. If so, you’ll need to address it first. This pose isn’t advisable too for those who have ankle and back injuries. Don’t ever risk on intricate yoga poses for extreme flexibility as it’s very harmful.
Even veteran yogis find it hard to extend the hips for the perfect arch. If you’re experiencing the same thing, you can cushion your buttocks with a folded blanket for a little lift. You should grasp your folded foot using your hands. If you can’t do it right away, you can always utilize a strap.
It’s difficult to do but it brings a lot of flexibility benefits on your limbs, tummy, shoulders, and neck.
10. Seated Forward Bend
The Standing Forward Bend can be a challenge to newbies so I think it’s rightful to include an easier version here. The Seated Forward Bend will stretch your hamstrings with more support from the floor than when you’re standing up. This version is also friendlier for students who have very stiff joints. If your knees are the problem, place a rolled blanket below it. You can also sit on a folded blanket for added lift.
Slowly bend forward but don’t force yourself if you can’t reach the toes yet. It might look like mere sitting at first but this will improve as you stretch more in the future.
Some yoga poses for extreme flexibility are full asanas that you have to practice while observing the yoga progression. This may not be exclusive for Ashtanga as your teacher may recommend it along the way. Have you found your fit of flexing? Let us know!