Yoga poses that will help you touch your toes

Flexibility has been one of the hottest topics in recent years. And no wonder why, as science is stressing more than before how important is to stretch regularly if not every day. Apart from feeling amazing after yoga class or simple stretch, flexibility improves blood flow to the areas involved, increases elasticity, and is helping us to stay pain-free. And while some people will be naturally more flexible than others, I am definitely of the latter one, when I first started practicing yoga. And even I am reminded every day of how long I have come by practicing regularly yoga, I can assure you with regular practice you will be able to achieve a greater range of mobility and space within and, oh yes to touch your toes.


With that in mind- can you set 20 mins aside to feel better and improve your mobility? Well, if the answer is yes, keep reading.


As a yoga teacher, I have been asked often how long is going to take to achieve a specific yoga pose. The answer to this question, really depends on your lifestyle, to be honest. Let's say you are an active person who doesn't stretch before or after training, or you are a regular jogger which in a nutshell is great, however, if you don't stretch after training you are not only risking tightening your hamstrings and muscles in general, but you are risking injuring yourself over time. Or you might be on the other side of the spectrum, sitting prolong hours without any physical activity( which is hey no judgment), but might lead to the same results as in the above case.


Check my article on " Health effects of sedentary behavior"

https://www.flexiwellness.biz/post/health-effects-of-sedentary-behavior


In all cases, you got what I mean, which is regular even short movements, yoga poses, or stretches are part of our health management. In this article more specifically I am focusing on the hamstrings and touching one's toes and surrounding areas to support that process.


When we talk about touching one's toes and lengthening the hamstrings we have to include the hips and back too. So let's dive in.


Cat and Cow aka Bitilasana - Marjaryasana


• Come to hands and knees position. Knees hips distance apart, hands shoulders distance.


•Shift the hips from side to side. With inhalation bring the chest forward and arch the back. Lift the tailbone up towards the sky and press the palms firmly.



•Exhale draw the navel in and bring the chin down towards the chest and round the back. Tuck your tailbone under and forward towards the pubic bone. The head is heavy.


•Inhale open the chest forward and slide the shoulder blades back. Exhale round the back. Flow with the breath and continue 5 to 10 rounds.


Benefits:

  • Strengthens the arms and the shoulders

  • Helps to improve the posture

  • Great pose to open the spine and improve flexibility and elasticity


Modifications and contraindications:

  • If you suffer from a lower back injury, avoid arching the spine deeply, instead keep an almost neutral spine.

  • If you suffer from a wrist injury place a rolled towel to elevate the heel of your wrist.


Downward Facing Dog


From Cat and Cow, start lifting the knees of the floor and pushing the hips up towards the sky while pressing the palms actively down. Keep the knees bend if your back is rounding or the calves are too tight. Keep opening the armpits outwardly.


Keep the feet slightly wider than hip-distance. Activate your core, and lengthen the tailbone towards the sky. Stay 10 breaths. Stay 10 breaths.


Benefits:

  • Great pose to stretch the ankles, calves, and hamstrings fully

  • Helps to build strength in the shoulders and upper arms

  • Being gentle inversion helps to improve the blood flow

  • Improves posture

Modifications and contraindications:

  • Bend your knees if your back is starting to round

  • Avoid overextending or locking the knees


Runners lunge


From Downward Facing Dog, drop the knees back down and step the left foot forward, aligning the knee with the hip. Keep both sides of the hips in one line.


•Frame the outstretched leg with both hands, if that's not possible you can use yoga blocks( or anything else at home to be able to reach in a more way comfortable towards the floor ).


•If your knee is sensitive place a blanket under it. With inhalation open the chest and look up, with exhalation fold from the hips. Pay attention to where do you feel the stretch. Ideally, we would like to feel the middle of the hamstrings stretching rather than the back of the knee. Stay 10 breaths.



Going deeper


•If the body allows keeping folding forward from the hips and bringing the chest closer to the outstretched leg. To come out of the pose, come back to the hands and knees position and swap sides.


Benefits:

  • Stretches the hamstrings, groins, calves, ankles, and hip flexor

  • Strengthens the knees, quads, glutes, and hips

Contraindications and modifications:

  • Beginner modification: use yoga blocks or anything you can find at home to hold with your hands if you cannot reach the floor

  • Bend your knee of the extended leg if your back is rounding.

  • Place a blanket under your knee if you feel discomfort

  • Avoid the pose if you suffer knee, ankle, or foot injury



Eye of the needle aka Sucirandhrasana


From the previous pose come laying on your back. Bend both knees and stack the knees over the ankles. Place the left ankle on the top of the right knee, check the hips are in one line. Relax your shoulders and gently press them down towards the floor so your collar bones could move away from the middle breast bone.


•You can stay here or you can lift the right leg of the floor, aligning the shin bone with the hips. Hold the back of the right thigh with both hands.


•Use your breath to mentally relaxed the hips and release any build-up tension there. Stay 5 to 10 breaths and swap sides.



Benefits:

  • Opens the hips

  • Lengthen the hips flexor

  • Calms the mind

  • Great alternative if pigeon pose is not accessible

  • Opens the chest and stretch gently the neck and shoulders

  • Great pose for sciatica

Modifications and contraindications:

  • Knee injury

  • If you have a shoulder problem you can modify by keeping the hands by your side and foot down, instead of perpendicular to the floor.



Reclining Hand-to-big-Toe Pose aka Suptha Padangusthasana


Suptha Padangusthasana is a great way to stretch your hamstrings without straining your back. And definitely one of the poses I am recommending to my students with lower back pain, so they stretch in a supportive way.


•From supine position bend the left knee and squeeze it gently in your chest. On inhalation start extending the foot to extend you feel a stretch at the back of the thi