Photo by Tamba Budiarsana.

Flexibility is a crucial component of any healthy and active lifestyle. With increased flexibility comes a wider range of motion and increased resistance to injuries. You’ll also get more out of your workouts, as your muscles will move more freely whilst straining less to perform dynamic movements.

Many people overlook the importance of cultivating flexibility, but it’s incredibly beneficial to our overall physical wellbeing. So if you’re leaning towards the stiffer side of life, here are 14 stretches and poses to increase your flexibility.

Downward Facing Dog

A fundamental yoga pose, and widely used across many styles, Down Dog is an excellent hamstring stretcher. Good for those who can’t touch their toes.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose is brilliant for opening up the hips. It can be a little tricky at first, especially if you’re tight to begin with in that area. But keep at it and it will yield some noticeable results.

Goddess Pose

Not only is this posture a great hip opener, but it also builds strength in the hamstrings and quads. A convenient 2-in-1.

Hamstring Stretch

A classic and crucial stretch that’s easily overlooked. But cultivating loose hamstrings is essential if we want to stay flexible and mobile.

Child’s Pose

Possibly the most comfortable and enjoyable pose on the list. Child’s Pose provides a gentle hip opening, whilst giving a slight stretch to the lower back and glutes. It’s also highly a relaxing posture, so great after a long day at work.

Cobra Pose

This one targets the lower back. You may be surprised at how inflexible you are to begin, especially if you don’t have a supple spine. But over time, and with gentle practise, you’ll find the bend getting deeper and deeper. The trick is to take it slow and avoid straining.

Bow Pose

Another back bend that’s also strong into the legs. It can feel somewhat awkward and uncomfortable for beginners, but it’s a very rewarding pose once mastered.

Shoulder Rolls

They’re not glamours and they’re not fancy, but for increasing flexibility and movement in the neck and shoulders, they’re amazing!

Camel Pose

In a sense, this is like Bow Pose on your knees. It’s considered slightly easier to perform, and there are several variations to make it gentler on the back. So if your spine isn’t too flexible, Camel Pose could be a better place to start.

Cobbler’s Pose

Another good hip opener. In Cobbler’s Pose gravity does most of the work, so it can feel quite passive and pleasant. Though it may be particularly difficult for those who struggle to sit with an erect spine. In that case, one variation is to sit on a folded blanket or block. Alternatively you can also place a block under either knee for extra support.

Eagle Pose

Eagle Pose is slightly more advanced and difficult to master, and can feel very strong in the shoulders. However, for your discomfort you’ll be rewarded with an excellent hip and shoulder, and upper back stretch. And if the full pose is too much, you can try a seated variation instead.

Seated Forward Bend

Another pose to target the hamstrings. Seated Forward Bend is ideally performed with straight legs. However if you’re very tight in the back of the legs you can try bending the knees.

Cat Cow

A fundamental yoga movement. This one’s gentle, easy-going, and feels great. The fluidity of the movement is excellent for improving flexibility and mobility.

Plow Pose

Plow Pose can seem be a little daunting at first, and it’s certainly one of the more advanced postures on the list. But it can be of great service to the neck and shoulders when performed correctly.

Beyond the stretch

Stick to these poses and you’ll be bending like rubber in no time. And once you’ve warmed up with a few stretches, why not try one of these 21 morning workouts that you can perform in ten minutes or less!