A beginner's guide to yoga stretches

October 2, 2015

Stretching is a great way to increase your flexibility and stay in shape. Here are some basic yoga stretches you should know.

A beginner's guide to yoga stretches

What you'll need to complete the stretches

This is a medium-challenge routine for healthy, active people who currently lack any formal exercise in their lives. It's designed for:

  • Middle-aged people with busy lives
  • Sedentary people in good health
  • Active, healthy seniors
  • People who have noticed a recent decline in energy

What's needed:

  •  Light dumbbells
  •  Towel
  •  Mat, bed, or daybed
  •  Supportive chair
  •  Wall space

Try the cross and pull technique

This technique stretches glutes and lower back.

  • Lie on your back and cross your right leg over the left.
  • Lightly grasp your right knee with your left hand and your left knee with your right hand.
  • Gently pull your knee toward your chest as far as comfortably possible.
  • Hold, then release and repeat on the opposite side.

A simple standing calf stretch

This technique stretches calves.

  • Stand at arm's length from a wall and place your palms flat against the wall.
  • Extend your left leg 0.6 to 1 metre (2 to 3 feet) behind you and press your left heel to the floor.
  • Your right knee will bend naturally as you extend your left leg.
  • Keeping both heels flat on the floor, press against the wall until you feel a nice stretch in your calf.
  • Hold, then repeat with the other leg.

Easy tips for a downward dog stretch

This technique stretches hamstrings, glutes and calves.

  • Kneel on all fours with your feet flexed.
  • Press your hands and feet into the floor, raising your hips toward the ceiling (your body should look like an upside-down V).
  • Keep lifting your tailbone toward the ceiling as you lower your heels to the floor as far as comfortably possible.

The right way to complete a flamingo stretch

This technique stretches quadriceps and hips.

  • Stand (with your right hand resting on a wall for support, if needed) and bend your left leg behind you.
  • Grasp the top of your left foot with your left hand, keeping your back straight.
  • Slowly pull your heel toward your rear, stopping when you feel tension in your quads (the front of your thigh).
  • Keep your hips and knees in alignment and tilt your pelvis slightly forward to deepen the stretch.
  • Hold, then switch sides.

Keep these easy techniques in mind and start stretching the right way.

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