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10 Yoga Poses for People with Stiff Body

... Flavio bossolan/Bigdatamadesimple:

Once Barbie and GI Joe started doing  Yoga , we could pretty much call it: Yoga is officially everywhere these days. But all that stretching and balancing is just for bendy people who can flop over their legs effortlessly—the rest of us non-bendy people who already exercise plenty don't really need it, right?

Not so fast: While being fit and being flexible don't always go hand-in-hand, being injured and being inflexible often does. But there are ways to get the full benefit from yoga—even if you can’t touch your toes—and without the special studios and the special pants. These 10 starter poses are for people at all flexibility levels, plus you don’t even need a mat!

What you do need: a kitchen counter or a chair; a towel; a milk crate, stool, or a small trashcan; an open doorway; and a blank expanse of wall.

With the following poses, keep these five general principles in mind.

1. You should always be able to breathe evenly, so find your edge but don’t go past it! Allow your body to open up and adjust over the space of about five or six breaths in each pose.
2. Keep your core muscles active but not to the point of holding your breath.
3. Keep a neutral spine; no “swayback donkeys” or sunken chests.
4. Twisting happens at the waist, not at the shoulders.
5. When bending forward, hinge from the hips, not the middle of your back.

Chest, Shoulders, and Upper Back

1. Upper Chest and Back Opener

Do this move anywhere, standing or sitting. And definitely bust it out at the end of a long flight to release that “cabin pressure” in your upper body.

Upper Chest and Back Opener

Upper Chest and Back Opener


2. Chest and Shoulder Opener

Here’s a move to get those chest and shoulders to open up. It’s the antidote to long stints hunched over a desk. Do this standing or sitting.

Chest and Shoulder Opener

3. Seated Spinal Twist

Keep this spinal twist handy as you work toward that corner office. It’s great for de-stressing and undoing the damage of a full afternoon of slouchy sitting. Remember: The twist happens at the waistline; resist using the chair's back to wrench your body around further into the twist.

Seated on a chair, swing legs to the left side. Twist to the left so torso is facing the chair back and grasp it with hands. If neck will permit it, complete the full spinal twist by looking over left shoulder. (Don’t force it. Just look ahead if neck twinges in protest.) Swing round to the right and repeat.

4. Standing Twist

Let’s invite more of your body to this yoga party. As with the seated version, the twisting should come at the waist and your hands should help hold you in the pose, rather than cranking your spine past the limit.

Standing Twist

5. Standing Wall Twist

C’mon baby, let’s do more twists! To get deeper in this pose, bring the wall into action.

Standing Wall Twist

Hamstrings and Calves

6. Half Dog

Let’s put a few more smudges on that wall! If you’ve ever tried a downward dog pose but couldn’t straighten your legs, a “half dog” against the wall is a great gateway pose that'll help to open up the entire backside of your body.

Half Dog

7. Chair-Assisted Half Dog

Cluttered wall? Here’s your workaround: the chair version of that forward bend.

Chair-Assisted Half Dog

Chair-Assisted Half Dog Lower

8. Seated Forward Bend Variation

This pose is the tried-and-true way to gain flexibility in your lower body. That said, it can be discouraging to watch others rest their heads on their knees while you go red in the face trying to graze your toes with a fingertip. Towels to the rescue! Lasso your foot with one, and you’ll increase your reach and do the pose in good form.

Seated Forward Bend

Seated Forward Bend Towel

9. Reclining One Legged Stretch

If stretching is an ongoing strugglefest, this pose will be a welcome way to make peace with your hamstrings. A doorframe provides solid support here. The corner of a wall works, too.

Reclining One Legged Stretch

10. Easy Balance Sequence

Yoga isn’t just a stretch-a-palooza. It also involves strength and balance. These simple standing poses are great for people who want to improve their balancing skills. Try them first with one or both hands on the chair back for support, and if you’re feeling like a boss, ditch the chair and hold your arms loosely out to either side for balance. If you start to topple, tap your raised foot down to the ground and try again: Your joints and muscles still have the challenge of keeping you upright and balanced, but you can bail out of the pose any time.

Easy Balance Sequence


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