Yoga Poses For Strength and Flexibility

Yoga poses can help you build strength, flexibility and a strong mind-body connection. It can also help with back pain and anxiety.

Downward-facing dog calms the nervous system, works on overall flexibility, decompresses the spine, stretches the hamstrings and tones the arms. It is one of the best yoga poses for beginners.

Janu Sirsasana

Janu Sirsasana is a forward-bending pose that strengthens the back muscles and stretches the lower and upper back. It also helps to calm the mind and reduce anxiety levels. This pose is a good practice for people with respiratory problems as it brings fresh blood to the lungs and chest area.

To start, extend one leg out in front of you and bend the other knee so that your foot rests on the inner thigh. Make sure to flex the knee joint only as far as is comfortable. If the flexion of the knee joint causes pressure or pain, then you can modify the posture by not bringing the foot in as close to your body.

Practicing this posture regularly can help to improve hip and groin flexibility, which is important for overall hip health. It can also reduce stress and anxiety by encouraging introspection.

Tree Pose

Tree Pose, also called Vrksasana in Sanskrit, is an intermediate-level pose that builds balance and strengthens your core. It also stretches your groin, thighs, and shoulders, and improves your posture and helps you breathe deeply.

To be able to do Tree Pose, you need good hip-opening capacity. If your hips don’t open up, your pelvis might twist, causing you to fall out of the pose.

For beginners, practicing the pose next to a wall can help you stay balanced. As you get better at the pose, you can gradually move farther away from the wall. You should try not to go so far, though, because this can make your body tense and tight. This doesn’t make for a comfortable Yoga experience. It will also prevent your spine from moving into proper alignment, which can cause injuries.

Bridge Pose

This pose stretches the hip flexors, strengthens the abdominal muscles and improves balance. It also helps lower back pain by stretching the spine and improving posture. It can even prevent back injuries in women who wear high heels because it strengthens the deep abdominal muscles that support the back.

If you’re not able to lift your hips up, you can practice Bridge Pose by placing a block between the feet. You should always practice within your limits and work with the abilities of your body, which might change from day to day.

Bridge pose opens the heart and shoulders, which relieves stress, fatigue, anxiety and mild depression. It also relieves the neck and upper back of stress and tension. However, people with back or neck injuries should avoid this pose as it can strain the injury and keep it from healing.

Downward-Facing Dog

If you’ve ever done a vinyasa-style yoga class, you’ve probably been in Downward-Facing Dog at some point. Aside from being a beautiful pose to look at it’s a great full body stretch and inversion that stimulates blood flow and strengthens the back, arms, shoulders, and legs. This posture activates the Manipura and Ajna Chakras, dispels fear and insecurity and stimulates perception and inspiration.

This posture is also a great stress buster and improves the health of your hair, skin, and eyes. However, this pose is not suitable for people with recent injuries to the back, hips or arms; unmedicated high blood pressure; or eye or inner ear problems. You may need to use blocks under your hands if you have wrist problems. Practice against a wall to build up strength in the arms.

Warrior II

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) is a classic yoga pose that increases stability and strength. The name of the pose, Virabhadrasana II, references the legend of Virabhadra beheading Daksha, and the warrior stance symbolizes the balance between physical and spiritual energy.

The pose opens the hips, stretches the chest and shoulders, and strengthens the ankles and legs. It also strengthens the core and improves concentration and focus.

To practice the pose, stand with your feet hip distance apart and spread your arms out at shoulder height. You can work up to holding the pose for 6 breaths. If you find it difficult to keep the pose, try a variation by placing your back foot on a block or chair. This modification stretches the lower leg muscles and allows you to stay in the pose longer.