Not feeling flexible? Try these 8 yoga poses
You don't have to bendier than a pipe cleaner to get into yoga - in fact one of the best things about yoga is that anyone can do it, with a few modifications, and the more you practice your poses, the bendier you'll become! If you're new to yoga or just not naturally very flexible, we've got 8 poses for you to try, complete with modifications to make it that bit easier. Try holding each pose for 5 to 10 breaths. Ready, set, namaste....
#1. Tadasana or Mountain Pose
This simple pose forms the basis of all other poses and is ideal for beginners starting out in yoga practice.
Stand tall, feet together with your eyes closed. You can separate the feet slightly if you feel stiff. Rest your arms down at your sides with your fingers together. Focus on breathing in and out through the nose.
If you find standing is a challenge, you can lie on your back, with the soles of your feet pressed up against a wall, to stretch the lower back.
#2. Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog can often be a challenging pose for beginners, but try increasing the distance between your feet and you'll find it's a bit easier!
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hinge forward at the waist. Press your palms flat into the ground with your hips in the air. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart and your shoulders, arms and back should be in a straight diagonal line. Keep your hands near the front of the mat and your toes facing forwards near the back of your mat.
Bend your knees to keep your spine stretched and move some of your weight into your legs.
#3. Balasana or Child's Pose
This resting pose is incredibly easy and relaxing - make the most of it by staying in it for a few minutes.
Kneel down with your knees and the tops of your feet on the floor, feet touching and together. Keeping your knees apart, rest your chest and belly between your legs. Place your head on the floor and stretch your arms out in front of you, over your head.
Try placing a block or pillow under your head
#4. Utkatasana or Chair Pose
This symmetrical pose strengthens your legs and warms you up.
Stand with your feet together, or, if you're stiff, feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees as if you're sitting in a chair and raise your arms up alongside your ears, outstretched.
This can be a challenging pose, especially for beginners, so if you start to feel tired, move out of the pose and into mountain pose on alternate breaths.
Most of us imagine that doing nothing will be easy, but if you're new to yoga, it can actually be very challenging. This is a great calming pose which can help you cool down.
Lie flat on your back, legs hip-width apart and your arms resting at a 45 degree angle to your torso, palms facing up. Let your limbs relax completely, close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
To lengthen your lower back, you can place a folded towel or blanket under your knees.
#6. Vrkasana or Tree Pose
Standing on one leg, bring your foot up to your ankle, calf or thigh - this depends how flexible you are. Lift your arms into the air, touching your palms together above your head, creating 'branches' for your tree.
Use a wall for balance - rest your hand on it or stand with your back against it.
#7. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or Bridge Pose
It's up to you whether to hold the pose or move in and out of it on alternate breaths. This pose flexes the chest, abdomen and hips.
Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, your knees pointing to the ceiling and your arms alongside your body. Press into your arms, keeping your feet on the ground as you lift your hips on the floor to open up your chest.
Try grasping your yoga mat with both hands, giving you leverage to turn your arms so your palms are facing up.
#8. Salabhasana or Locust Pose
This is a great move to strengthen the back muscles and improve your posture - if you suffer from upper back pain or shoulder pain, or spend all day hunched over a desk at work, this is the pose for you!
Lie on your belly and take a deep breath as you lift everything off the floor - your arms, legs and chest. Your palms should be facing the floor as you lift your arms out behind your head and your neck should be long, with your head looking up at the ceiling.
To open the chest and shoulders more deeply, you can clasp your hands behind your back.