As you get older, muscle and joint issues are more prevalent. You may notice that your body is more uncooperative upon awakening and after a long day at work. What can you do to alleviate this chronic stiffness and have a stronger and leaner body?
Ten Yoga Positions to Relieve Body Stiffness
Yoga is an ideal stand-alone practice, or you can add it to your morning or evening routine. These ancient poses can benefit you physically, mentally, and spiritually. Here are ten classic poses for you to try.
1. Forward Bend-Seated
This simple pose can reduce stiffness in your spine and hamstrings and boost flexibility. It’s easier to do the seated option rather than the standing one. There’s less strain on your back, and you won’t feel a dizzy headrush from gravity.
•Sit comfortably on your mat with your legs pointing forward. As you keep your palms flat beside your hips, press your heels into the mat away from your body.
•Next, inhale deeply through your nose while keeping your torso straight. As you slowly exhale through your lips, lean forward from your hips toward your feet. It’s almost like trying to fold your body in half at the hips.
•Each time you inhale, reach toward your feet and a little more forward as you exhale. Try to hold for 1 minute, then return to the starting position. Your goal is to strive for at least five to 10 repetitions.
To make this position more comfortable, use a small pillow or folded blanket under your behind if your back is a bit weak. Do you have tightness in your hips or hamstrings? You can also use a strap looped around your feet to help bring your body forward.
2. Tree Pose to Relieve Stiffness
For a classic yoga pose that improves balance and relieves stiff muscles, you can’t beat this one. The tree pose offers you a sense of being centered while gently stretching your shoulders, torso, and lower body.
•For the starting position, stand naturally on your mat with both arms at your sides.
•Gently inhale while balancing on your left leg. Bring your right foot up and position it above or below your knee. Don’t place it directly on your knee because it can cause too much pressure on the joint.
•As you exhale, bring your hands together in the praying position in the center of your chest and gaze forward. Use your hand to position your foot on your standing leg. Hold this position for three to five breaths, then repeat the steps on your right side.
3. Spinal Twist
Here’s a pose that twists your body to align your spine while stretching your neck, shoulders, and hips. Another benefit is that it can stimulate your stomach and intestines. This pose is called the Half Lord of the Fish in the yogic tradition.
•Start by sitting comfortably on your mat with your legs pointing in front of you and your arms at your sides.
•Next, bend your knees to place your feet flat on the mat. Gently lower your right knee to the mat and bring your right foot under your left leg.
•As you inhale, raise your right arm over your head. Now, exhale while twisting to the left to bring your torso against your right thigh. Put your right elbow against your left knee.
•Gently twist your torso from your behind to your head. As you keep mindfully breathing, twist your torso a bit more. Turn your head and look over your left shoulder.
•Firmly press your left foot into the mat while stretching your torso. Hold this pose for about a minute and return to the starting position. Repeat these steps for your other side.
4. Mountain Pose to Reduce Stiffness
When you stand tall, it helps you maintain better posture. An article by Michigan State University states that proper posture can reinforce self-confidence. The mountain pose naturally stretches your body from top to bottom and can help relieve stiff muscles from sitting.
•Begin by standing naturally on your mat with your feet together. Inhale deeply and imagine a string pulling you upward from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.
•Tighten your thighs and knees as you feel your body pulled tightly and straight. Pull your shoulder blades together, then relax them. Gently raise your chest toward the ceiling while bringing your arms up at your sides, palms facing outward.
•Keep mindfully breathing as you bring your body back to the starting point. Try to keep your body as aligned as possible. Your goal is three to five repetitions. This pose relieves stiffness throughout your body and provides stability.
5. Warrior Pose II
Connect with your inner warrior strength with this yogic pose. It is excellent for relieving stiffness and strengthening your arms and legs. You can modify this pose by using a sturdy chair for balance.
•Stand firmly on your mat with your feet spread about three to four feet apart. Raise your arms until they are shoulder level, palms toward the mat.
•Now, turn your left foot to face the front of the mat and turn your right foot to a 45-degree angle. Bend your left knee so it’s aligned with your left ankle. Try to keep your right thigh parallel to the mat.
•Hold the position for two to three breaths, then return to the start position. Repeat the steps for your other side. Try to do three to five repetitions.
6. Cat/Cow Pose
Have you ever watched a cat stretch its back into a high arch after a cozy nap? This yoga position uses the same technique and flows to the downward stretch of a cow’s back. The combination can soothe your spine and help relieve painful stiffness.
•Get down on all fours on your mat with your hands aligned with your shoulders and your knees behind your hips. Keep your head and back in a neutral position. Inhale, then exhale slowly while arching your spine and tilting your head toward the mat, creating the cat.
•On your second inhalation, become the cow by gently lifting your head, chest, and behind toward the ceiling. It will curve your spine downward. Go back and forth for each pose five to 10 times, careful not to strain your neck.
7. Bridge Pose Alleviates Stiffness
The bridge pose may benefit you if you have stiffness in your hips and lower back. Feel free to use a pillow under your tailbone if needed.
•Lie flat on your back and bend your knees so your feet are flat and close together on your mat. This is the starting position. Now, inhale, and on the exhale, squeeze your glutes to raise your hips off the mat.
•Bring your arms behind and clasp your hands on the mat, aligned under your hips. Bring your shoulder blades together, hold this position for another breath, and return to start. Your goal is three to five repetitions.
8. Pigeon Pose
Sitting for long periods can create stiffness in your hips and back. This pose helps release the tension in those muscles and joints.
•Sit on all fours on your mat, then extend your left knee towards your left wrist. Feel the soothing stretch in your hip. Next, bring your right leg backward until your toes point behind you and your heel points to the ceiling.
•Draw your hips together. Inhale as you lean upon your fingertips and gently stretch your spine and chest. Exhale while moving your hands forward and lowering your upper body towards the mat.
•You can make this step more comfortable by resting your forearms and forehead on your mat. Hold the position for five breaths and allow the tension to melt in your left hip. Come back to the start position and repeat for your right side.
9. Triangle Pose
Many yogic positions, such as this triangle pose, are a general stretch that relieves muscle stiffness throughout your body. If reaching overhead is problematic, you can use a yoga block for support. Workouts that flow effortlessly are best; if there are issues, you can modify the pose.
•Stand tall and face your left foot, which should be angled at about 45 degrees in front of your mat. Lift your arms parallel to the mat with your palms facing down. Angle your right foot at about 45 degrees to your left foot with both heels aligned.
•Inhale deeply while facing your left leg, then bend toward the left to be as close to your left foot as you can. Your right hand will be pointing toward the ceiling. Return to the start position and repeat the steps on your right side.
10. Dolphin Pose
The dolphin pose is a bit more challenging than the other examples. However, you can do it with some practice. Not only does it benefit your body, but it also engages the muscles in your feet.
•Sit on all fours on your mat. Position your forearms on the mat with your elbows aligned under your shoulders. Place your palms downward or interlace your fingers, then inhale.
•Gently exhale as you curl your toes under a bit. Tighten your lower stomach while lifting your knees from the mat. Bring your behind up as you straighten your legs and bring your heels towards the mat.
•Now, tighten your thigh muscles as you draw in your lower gut and press your forearms against the mat. Tighten your shoulder blades and stretch your back. Position your head off the mat and between your arms.
•Hold this position for five to 10 breaths, then exhale, relax and return to the starting position.
Final Thoughts on Yoga Poses To Relieve Body Stiffness
Consider these ten yoga steps if you want to spend your day feeling revived with less tense in your muscles. They are easy to do, and you don’t need fancy equipment. You can give your body stability by incorporating a few of these poses in the morning, and your body will thank you for it.