13 Best Yoga Stretches to Do Every Day to Ease Stiffness and Pain: Know that yoga can be done by anybody given the proper modifications. And it can also be practiced in the comfort of your own home. If you’re experiencing pain or stiffness, know that yoga is for you, too—and it can even help you find relief.
So, there’s never been a better time to start stretching. The poses below are some of the most common positions you’ll find in yoga flows, whether you’re in a class or at home.
13 Best Yoga Stretches to Do Every Day to Ease Stiffness and Pain
1. Downward Dog
Downward Dog – How to start
- Start in a tabletop position with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips.
- Inhale. Exhale and lift your knees off the floor, positioning your hips toward the ceiling.
- Reach your heels to the floor and straighten out your knees as much as you can without locking them up.
- Press through your fingertips and keep your head between your arms as you gaze between your calves.
This pose—one of the most common in yoga—is an excellent morning stretch.
You’ll open up the shoulders, hamstrings, and calves as well as the arches of your feet.
Benefits of Downward Dog
- Down dogs also help to strengthen your shoulders and upper back.
- And by bending so that your heart is over your head, you’ll increase blood flow to the brain—a great way to kickstart alertness in the early morning hours.
2. Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose – How to do it
- Start in a tabletop position.
- Touch your big toes together.
- Then sit back on your heels and put your torso on your thighs.
- Place your arms straight in front of you with your palms facing the floor.
- This will help open up your hips.
3 – High Lunge and Warrior I
High Lunge and Warrior I – How to do it
- Start by standing over the long side of your mat.
- Rotate your hips and torso toward your right foot. Inhale.
- Exhale and bend your right knee so that it stacks over your right ankle.
- Keep your left leg strong as you root down through the outer edges of your left foot.
- Raise your arms overhead. Be careful not to overarch your back—keep a slight tuck of the tailbone.
- Repeat on the other side.
- For Warrior I, the position is the same except your back foot is planted on the floor, nearly parallel to the front of your mat.
- This creates more external rotation in the hips.
4. Triangle Pose
Triangle Pose – How to do it
- Stand over the long side of your mat. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and keep your palms facing down.
- Face your right foot and angle it to the front of your mat.
- The left foot should be at a 45-degree angle to the right.
- Both heels are in line with each other. Take a deep breath in as you face the right leg. Inhale as you hinge forward and reach toward an imaginary wall at the top of your mat.
- When you can go forward any farther, exhale and extend your torso over your right leg, hinging from the hip joint. Rotate your torso to the left and rest your right hand on your right shin, ankle or the floor on the outside of your right foot.
- Reach your left arm toward the ceiling and make sure that both shoulders are in one line. Keep your head in a neutral position by softly gazing up at your left hand. Repeat on the other side.
5 – Warrior II
Warrior II – How to do it
- Stand nice and tall over the long side of your mat. Take up space; your feet should be about 3-4 feet apart. Lift your arms until they are parallel to the floor, palms facing the floor.
- Turn your right foot to face the front of the mat and angle your left foot 45 degrees. Bend your right knee until it’s directly over your right ankle.
- Check to see that your right ankle is in line with the arch of your back foot. Try to get your left thigh as parallel to the floor as possible. Hold your gaze over your right hand. Step back and repeat on the other side.
6. Mountain Pose
Mountain Pose – How to do it
- Stand with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart. Lift and spread your toes, then place them on the floor. Rock back and forth, then side-to-side.
- When you’re done exploring your balance, come to a standstill. Contract your thigh muscles and lift your kneecaps. Imagine a line of energy traveling up from your toes to your head.
- Pinch your shoulder blades together then pull them down. Raise your sternum to the ceiling without raising your lower ribs. Tuck your tailbone slightly under as you pull your belly button in towards your spine.
- Arms are by your sides with your palms facing the front. Your head should be in line with your spine. Maintain a soft gaze.
7. Cat/Cow Pose
Cat/Cow Pose – How to do it
- Start in the tabletop position with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath you hips. Your spine and head will begin in a neutral position.
- Inhale. Exhale and enter cat: Round your spine to the ceiling and gently release your head toward the floor.
- Inhale and enter cow: Lift your chest, head and butt to the ceiling and be careful not to over strain the neck. Instead of holding each pose for 5 to 10 breaths, oscillate between these two positions 5 to 10 times going at your own pace.
8. Bridge Pose
Bridge Pose – How to do it
- Start by lying on your back with your feet on the ground and knees pointed toward the ceiling. Bring your heels as close to your butt as possible. Inhale.
- Exhale and squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off of the floor. Keep your knees over your ankles.
- Clasp your hands beneath you and stay on the tops of your shoulders. Pinch your shoulder blades together and hold as you press your pinkies into the ground.
Good for: chest, abs, hip flexors
- Start lying on stomach with legs extended straight behind body, arms bent and palms flat on the floor by ribs, shoulders and head lifted a few inches above mat, gaze just in front of nose so spine stays neutral.
- Push through palms to raise upper body higher, but stop if lower back hurts.
- Hold stretch for 30 seconds or more.
10. Chair Pose
Good for: glutes
- Start standing with feet together and arms at sides.
- Lower into a squat, by pushing butt back and down, and raise arms overhead, bringing biceps by ears.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds or more.
11. High Lunge
Good for: ankles, calves, hamstrings and hip flexors
- Start standing at front of mat with feet under hips and arms at sides.
- Fold forward, place fingers on floor, and step left foot to back far enough that right knee can bend to 90 degrees.
- Lift torso up until shoulders are over hips and extend arms overhead, biceps by ears.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds or more. Then, repeat on opposite side.
12. Extended Side Angle
Good for: abs
- Start in a warrior II position with right leg forward, knee bent at 90 degrees and heel bisecting inner arch of left foot.
- Tilt torso forward over right thigh and down so that fingertips of right hand can rest on the floor inside of right foot, and extend left arm forward, bringing bicep by ear.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds or more. Then, repeat on opposite side.
Good for: inner thighs
How to: Start seated with legs together and bent, feet flat on the floor, hands hugging knees, and spine long. Open legs like a book and bring soles of feet together, grasping toes. Actively push knees down toward mat.