Practicing yoga asanas or poses provides many health benefits, from toning your muscles and building strength to increasing relaxation and relieving stress.

One of the most sought-after benefits of yoga though is increased flexibility, so what is the best type of yoga for flexibility?

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The Best Type of Yoga for Flexibility

In truth, there isn’t a “best type of yoga for flexibility”, although we recommend Hatha, Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, and Vin Yoga to improve flexibility.

Plus, to get a better understanding of why and how yoga aids in improving flexibility, let’s take a closer look at some of the most common types of yoga taught in studios and the science of flexibility.

What Are the Most Common Types of Yoga?

The popularity of yoga in the West has been increasing steadily for decades.

Yoga is a practice that extends beyond holding physical poses but for many students, a physical practice in a studio is their first introduction.

Below are some examples of the most common types of yoga practiced at a yoga studio.

Hatha Yoga: Hatha yoga is the foundational basis of most Western yoga exercise practices.

Though by the yoga lineage and terminology, Hatha refers to any practice of physical poses, a Hatha class at a yoga studio is typically referring to a slow-paced class. These standard poses are held for 30 seconds to a minute allowing you to find proper alignment and build strength in the position. Source: BrettLarkinYoga

Vinyasa Yoga: Vinyasa yoga is influenced by Hatha yoga and adopts many of the same poses. In these faster-paced classes, poses are linked together with the breath to create sequences that seem to flow together.

Poses are typically held for less than 30 seconds as you move in connection with your inhalations and exhalations. Source: Yoga with Kassandra

Hot Yoga: Most any style of yoga can be practiced in a heated room for a hot yoga class. Vinyasa flow is one of the most popular styles to be practiced as hot yoga and Bikram yoga is the only style that requires heat.

Bikram yoga consists of a consistent sequence of 26 poses. In Bikram and other styles of hot yoga, poses are held for 20 seconds to one minute, depending on the pace of the class and the pose. Source: OneTreeYogaOmaha

Yin Yoga: As a more meditative practice, yin yoga uses props to help you move deeper into poses without actively engaging your muscles.

Poses are held for longer periods of time, typically two minutes or longer, so you feel a deeper stretch in the connective tissues. This passive practice aims to address stiffness in your tissues. Source: Boho Beautiful

How Does Yoga Help Improve Flexibility?

Despite the differences between these styles, the asanas or poses practiced remain rather constant across styles.

These poses encourage stretching and strengthening of muscles through alignment and repeated use. Our muscles are organs which function to enable movement through coordinated contraction and lengthening.

Even though muscle extension has an active role in skeletal movement, there is little scientific research to directly connect increases in muscle fiber elasticity to increased flexibility. In fact, after stretching, the elasticity of the muscle returns to normal.

You can see this in your yoga practice.

Attempt to move as deep into a pose an hour after a hot yoga class.

Do you see the same results?

After the class has ended and you have cooled down your muscles’ normal elasticity returns. Though you may have easily slid into the full expression an hour ago you may be unable to now.

The elasticity you gained through warming up and slowly elongating your muscles is gone.

For transient flexibility measures, hot yoga and yin yoga are great practices to see your current range of motion. In hot yoga, the heat helps muscles warm up faster so you can quickly ease into deeper expressions.

On the other end of the spectrum, yin yoga and other practices that hold poses for extended periods give your body time to slowly open up. By staying in a pose longer you find a deeper stretch as your body relaxes into the posture.

How Do You Achieve Long-Term Flexibility and Balance?

Our muscles are controlled by the central nervous system which consists of our brain and spinal cord. Muscle spindles act as sensors that detect changes in muscle length.

These changes are communicated to the nervous system via afferent nerve fibers. This communication triggers the myotatic reflex and the muscle begins to resist the stretch by contracting.

With sustained stretching, the spindles’ rate of firing slows down. As the spindles adapt to the force they allow the muscles to relax.

Current research theorizes that stretching aids in flexibility by helping our brains adapt to the sensations stretching brings.

As you stretch longer a greater change in muscle length is required to trigger the muscle spindles.

Because the acceptable range of motion is increasing you can stretch deeper without sending signals to your brain that the act is unsafe or painful.

Flexibility is gained gradually as the new norm and sensation of stretching is slowly accepted.

How Long Should You Hold Yoga Poses?

The length of time to hold a pose is dependent on the style of yoga being practiced as mentioned above. If you’re seeking to see improved flexibility it is best to hold poses for an extended period.

In faster-paced classes such as vinyasa, you still get benefits of increased flexibility but as you move through the poses with more speed you and your connective tissues don’t have as much time to respond.

When holding poses longer, as in a yin yoga class, the steady load applied to the muscle fibers invites the connective tissues to stretch.

Are There Benefits of Holding Yoga Poses a Long Time

Though the length of time a pose is held depends on the style of yoga practiced, holding poses for longer periods of time does introduce certain benefits.

Extending time holding a pose encourages your muscles and joints to settle into the posture and find the correct alignment. The additional time helps develop muscle memory of how the pose should feel.

This may help you reach proper alignment more immediately when practicing faster-paced flows like vinyasa. As you stay in a pose longer, the added load improves stamina and builds extra strength.

Finding ease in a pose held for longer periods also encourages a more meditative yoga practice and connection with your body.

How Should You Stretch in Yoga for Flexibility?

As warm muscles are more pliable, you will get the most out of your practice or stretches if you properly warm up first. Many yoga sequences are intentionally crafted to warm up target areas building to a deeper expression.

Pairing Marjariasana, cat pose, with Bitilasana, cow pose, is a common warm-up sequence to warm up the torso and spine in preparation for other backbends such as Chakrasana or Urdva Dhanurasana, upward bow.

Warming up muscles makes them less likely to reflexively contract and helps alert the brain to the expected range of motion. As you begin to stretch, move slowly and intentionally. All movements should be free of pain.

When first warming up, perform dynamic stretching. The movement in this stretching introduces heat and motion to the muscles, encouraging them to lengthen.

Does Yoga Hurt?

If first starting a yoga practice you may discover new sensations and muscles you didn’t know you had but you shouldn’t feel pain. After your first few sessions of intentional yoga asana practice, you will likely feel sore.

Holding poses that your body is unfamiliar with will also work to strengthen muscles that are rarely used leading to more awareness in your body.

As you practice find the maximum expression where you are able to find ease and always remember to breathe. Listen to your body and back away if you begin to feel pain.

What Are the Best Yoga Poses for Splits?

When working towards Hanumanasana (monkey pose) or full splits practice poses that target the muscles involved, primarily the hip flexors and hamstrings.

Of the group of muscles known as the hip flexors, the psoas major is the strongest.

The psoas is often considered together with the iliacus as the iliopsoas. The iliopsoas can be stretched by practicing Anjaneyasana (low lunge), Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (one-legged king pigeon pose), or Utthan Pristhasana (lizard pose).

The other main muscle group to stretch for the splits is the hamstrings. The hamstrings are responsible for extending the leg at the hip and flexing the knee.

To stretch the hamstrings practice Parsvottanasana (intense side stretch ) and Ardha Hanumanasana (half splits).

For all of these poses be sure to hold them for at least 30 seconds. You will see the most immediate benefits if practiced regularly so strive to practice multiple times a week or up to twice a day.

These each target one side at a time so remember to balance and stretch both sides.

What Is a Yoga Strap? Will a Yoga Strap Help Flexibility?

Amongst the props you may use in a yoga class is a yoga strap. These straps are typically 6 to 10 feet in length and come in a variety of widths, materials, and colors with either a metal or plastic buckle.

Despite the variations, these straps all effectively serve the same purpose – to aid in expressing poses. Whether a beginner or an advanced yogi, straps can be used to further deepen your practice.

When first starting out, a strap may help provide additional length as you work on flexibility.

Can’t touch your toes in Paschimottanasana, seated forward bend?

Place a strap against the balls of your feet and hold either end in each hand. This will help provide an anchor to fold deeper into the pose.

Progressing into binds, a yoga strap can also be used. A strap can make up for inflexibility in the hips and chest when binding in Utthita Parsvakonasana (extended side angle pose). Pulling on the strap will encourage these areas to open, eventually leading to full expression.

How Long Does It Take to Become More Flexible in Yoga? How Often Should I Practice?

It may not feel like it but you are already flexible! You may want to increase your range of motion but flexibility is necessary for movement.

If you want to increase the flexibility of a certain muscle group or region the time to see increased flexibility varies based on many factors.

The factors you have the most control over are the frequency of practice and time in the determined poses.

If you are serious about seeing visible changes in flexibility commit to practicing poses that lengthen the target area or muscle groups and commit to practicing them regularly.

As with any practice, you will see more immediate changes in your flexibility with a more consistent yoga practice. Practice yoga daily and hold the poses for at least 30 seconds.

If you can make time, hold them for longer. As your body grows increasingly accustomed to the stretches it will begin to release deeper into the positions.

The speed at which your flexibility increases depends on your own personal physiology and often times as we progress we may not see the gradual improvements made over time.

Photos or videos can be helpful tools to track progress as you continue on your stretching plan.

What Are the Benefits of Being More Flexible?

You may have your own personal flexibility goals like touching your toes or mastering the splits but the benefits of flexibility go beyond showing off to friends on Instagram.

Better flexibility can help your joints by allowing them to move through a more complete range of motion. This helps decrease the risk of injuries and tears.

Reaching your full range of motion also allows your muscles to move more effectively which can lead to improved performance in sports and other physical activities.

Though there may not be one style of yoga that is best for improving flexibility, you can use your yoga practice and poses as helpful entry points for deeper stretching.

As your body adjusts to regular practice and alignment in the poses it will begin to accept the sensation and let you move deeper into each stretch.

As with any practice, consistency is key; practice regularly to begin to see and feel the changes in your flexibility. You’ll be able to touch your toes or reach the split before you know it!

15-Minute Beginner Yoga Workout For Flexibility

Improving your overall flexibility has many benefits, including alleviating back pain and other health-related benefits.

We’ve designed a yoga workout for flexibility that can be done at home, and with practice, it will help beginners improve their flexibility.

It’s important to note that flexibility takes practice, and most people consider themselves reasonably stiff (or not flexible). Regularly practicing this yoga workout will greatly improve your flexibility over time.

This workout is great for increasing energy levels in the morning or unwinding your body after a tense day at work to loosen up your muscles.

Basically, you can practice yoga for flexibility anytime you want!

These yoga poses will often reduce back pain while (of course) improving your flexibility.

Who is this workout designed for?

  • Someone who is entirely new to yoga.
  • Someone who feels stiff and is looking to improve their flexibility.
  • Someone who likes to practice yoga and burn fat.

During this workout, attempt to hold the poses for at least 30 seconds. Some poses shown below will need to be repeated on both sides for consistent results.

There are 12 poses in all, try going through the entire routine at least 3 times.

12 Yoga Poses That Increase Flexibility

To start this pose, lie face down on the floor or face down on your yoga mat. Place your palms parallel to your hips.

Press up from the floor using your palms and the tops of your feet to lift your legs and hips up. Push your heart out and look straight ahead.

2. Downward facing dog Pose

Start by placing your hands directly on the ground or on your yoga mat, and spread your fingers wide. Slowly extend your legs upward so that your butt is pointed towards the sky.

You should be making an upside-down V with this pose.

While in this pose, you want to make sure your lower back is straight and not arched, and your butt stays pointed outward.

This pose will stretch your hamstrings and shoulders.

3. Revolved Chair Pose Variation

Begin standing up, then sit back slightly as if you are about to sit onto an imaginary chair. Your knees will be slightly bent, and your back will be slightly arched.

Extend your right arm down to the floor, touching the outside of your right foot. Your left arm will be extended towards the ceiling.

Move your head so that you are looking upward, and lean deeper into the twist to progress the stretch. This is a pose that will need to be practiced on both sides of the body.

4. Standing Half Forward Bend Pose

Start by standing tall with your feet firmly planted on the ground shoulder-width apart. Slowly bend forward, extending your arms to reach towards your feet.

It’s important to keep your back straight while practicing this pose which can present a challenge, as the back naturally tends to bend as your reach down. To counter this, arch your back and point your butt outward.

5. Camel Pose

The benefit of this pose is the alleviation of back pain, and it will open up your chest and back.

To begin this pose, kneel on the floor or on your yoga mat allowing your arms to dangle on the side of your body. While kneeling, ensure that your knees are shoulder-width apart. Slowly reach your arms back to grasp your feet or ankles.

To deepen the stretch, arch your back more and lean into your pelvis.

This stretch can feel uncomfortable for beginners so you may not be able to hold it for a full 30 seconds. It’s okay, with practice you will get better.

6. Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose

To start this pose, sit on the floor or yoga mat with your left leg extending outwards in front of you, and your right leg bent, resting against your left leg.

As you begin to exhale, reach your hands towards your left foot, as far as you can go. Deepen the stretch with each exhale to extend your arm as far as you can.

Do not attempt to stretch farther than you are capable as this will result in injury, instead focus on the sensations associated with your upper body extending.

Make sure to do this pose on both sides.

7. Extended Triangle Pose

Begin this pose by standing up straight with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Slowly shift your right foot away from your left foot, so that there is about four feet in between your two feet.

Then, extend each arm out to the side, so that they run parallel to the ground. Rotate your feet so that your left toes are pointed forward, and your left toes are pointed out.

Then, as you exhale, pivot your body so that your right hand is reaching towards your ankle or the ground. Your left arm should move so that it is reaching for the ceiling.

Shift your eyes to the ceiling to look up.

As a beginner, you may not have the flexibility to reach the floor, you can contact whatever area of your leg you can to modify the pose.

8. Pigeon Pose

You will start this pose by kneeling on the floor or on your yoga mat. As you feel more comfortable, you will lift-up your right knee and place your right foot in front of your left knee.

For support, brace yourself with your hands while extending your left leg back behind you, making sure the top of your left foot is touching the ground.

As you stay in this pose, you will feel the stretch in your hip flexors. Perform this pose on both sides.

9. Standing Back Bend Pose

Begin by standing tall with your feet firmly grounded on the floor and your arms extended toward the ceiling.

Gently reach your arms further and further behind you to create a backbend and allow your back to arch. Do not reach back too far so that it causes discomfort, listen to your body as you lean back.

This pose can also cause some back strain for beginners, so hold the pose for less than 30 seconds if needed.

10. Warrior 1 Pose

This pose is known to be good for weight loss due to its strength and balance components.

To begin, stand tall with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Move your right foot apart from your left, so that there is about a four-foot gap between your feet.

Pivot your left foot inward so that it is at roughly a 45-degree angle. Move your body so that you are facing the right side.

To further the stretch, begin sinking into your right knee, but make sure your left leg remains straight.

You want to keep your right knee at a 90-degree angle, and your right thigh parallel to the ground. You will feel this pose in your spine, chest, and hips.

Repeat to complete for both sides of your body.

11. Upward (Reverse) Plank Pose

Start this pose by sitting on the floor and stretching your legs out in front of you. Put your hands on the ground slightly behind you so that they align with your shoulders.

This pose will utilize your core and glute strength to lift your body up. As you are holding this pose, make sure that your hips do not rise or fall, but remain straight in line with the rest of your body.

12. Seated Forward Bend Pose

Begin by sitting on the floor or your yoga mat and extend both legs out in front of you.

As you exhale, bend at the hip and extend your hands forward to reach towards your toes. Think about bringing your chest against your legs as you stretch.

Again, do not focus on how far you can reach your arms, but instead focus on the quality of stretch in your upper body.

As a beginner, you may not have the ability to reach your toes due to a lack of flexibility so you can use a strap or towel wrapped around your feet to pull your body closer to your legs.

As a reminder, hold each pose for 30 seconds and complete all the poses in order at least 3 times.

After you’ve gone through a routine entirely, you may rest for 1 minute before continuing to the next set.

If you are able to and would like, you can stay in the pose for longer than 30 seconds. Listen to your body and adjust as needed.

Is yoga good for increasing flexibility?

Research has proven that yoga can increase flexibility by stretching of muscles for a better range of motion.
Most other activities or exercises focus on strengthening the muscles or improving cardiovascular health, while yoga’s primary focus is loosening the muscles to increase flexibility.
In yoga, you hold certain poses while focusing on breathing, which then relaxes the muscles and allows for a further stretch.
According to WebMD, people have noticed a 35 percent increase in flexibility in the first eight weeks of regular yoga practice.

What is the best yoga DVD for flexibility?

A top-rated yoga DVD for flexibility is Gentle Yoga for Balance, Flexibility, and Mobility, Relaxation, Stretching for All Levels by Jessica Smith and is available on Amazon.
This DVD is recommended for all levels of yoga practitioners and includes four 20-minute sessions that are easy to follow.
In these four sessions, you will find calming yoga poses and sequences that are effective in improving balance, flexibility, and mobility.
Being that the DVD is for all levels, you can create your own session using the customizable menu by choosing the exact workout for your needs.
You can do one session or flow through all four depending on your schedule or what your personal goals are.
The Four Workouts Cover:
Flow 1: Neck and Shoulders: This series focus is to release stress and tension within the neck and shoulders.
Flow 2: Back and Chest: In this series, poses are designed to open the spine and chest to aid in pain relief and improve posture.
Flow 3: Hips and Knees: With a combination of balancing and mobility movements, this series focuses on freeing the hips and unlocking joints throughout the entire leg and helps relieve pain and improve flexibility.
Flow 4: Total Body: This portion focuses on the entire body with calming full body poses and stretches.
For this program, you will need a yoga mat and a sturdy high back chair. For added comfort with specific poses, you can use pillows or folded blankets and towels.

Is yoga or Pilates better for flexibility?

People often wonder what the difference is between yoga and Pilates, and although they have similar qualities, they are not the same.
There is an assumption that Pilates only focuses on strengthening the core, while yoga concentrates only on meditation and breathing, but there is much more within both programs.
Many Pilates instructors have an excellent background in meditation practices that they incorporate into their routines as well as many yoga instructors who are skilled in providing top-notch core exercises in their programs.
Both Pilates and yoga provide great well-rounded workouts with many experienced teachers, and both have the opportunity to meet your needs. To see what works best for your goals, try classes from both programs.
Find different studios and test out the multiple styles they offer to see what works best for you. Yoga has many different styles like Hatha and Vinyasa, that focus on various aspects in their workouts.
Pilates has options like using machines or mats and have different intensity levels. Find experienced instructors to ensure proper workouts.
Pilates and yoga both focus on breathing, body alignment, balance, strength, and flexibility.
They also require the mind to be completely present and the use of the whole body to complete certain exercises and poses. Both are usually done barefoot and offer complete body workouts.
Both programs can enhance your strength, balance, and flexibility. Studies have shown that incorporating the two workouts into your exercise routine can benefit your health.
The combination of strength exercises and flexibility poses work well together to give you an overall full body workout.
As mentioned above, yoga does increase flexibility while Pilates strengthens muscles. Research shows that people who focus on both aspects of strength and flexibility reduce the risk of injury, experience less joint pain, and have an overall healthier lifestyle.

mindbodygreen

How you approach your body is important, because you’ll probably approach the rest of your life in the same way. Want freedom? Practice moving free. Want to do hard things without a struggle? Practice moving easily, even when things get hard. The same goes for flexibility. If you’re looking to become more flexible in your body and your life, here are eight tips that will make it easier than you ever thought possible.

1. Let go of the idea that stretching makes you flexible.

Most people assume that stretching — in a way that uses muscle to force other muscles to lengthen — leads to flexibility. It doesn’t! The old-fashioned approach of static stretching (holding still while pushing hard into a stretch) has been part of most athletic training regimes for decades.

What scientists and athletes now understand is that flexibility begins in your mind. If your mind thinks it needs to defend against injury (or against you!) it will do that, bracing for impact, making you less flexible.

Push your muscles hard to get a stretch, and you won’t see lasting gains. Instead, stay easy and calm, no force required. You might be thinking, I can’t touch my toes! But it’s actually great that you have these good strong muscles and ligaments that hold your body together and keep things working properly.

2. If you’re going to stretch, find a position in which you could sit and comfortably watch TV.

If your muscles are working hard to hold you up or keep you balanced while you’re trying to open those hamstrings, your body will remain strained and inflexible. If things are going to open up, your brain needs to believe everything is safe and easygoing, so put yourself in a position where you’d be happy sitting and watching TV for a while.

Take a runner’s lunge for example. If you’re having a tough time balancing with your hands on the ground, or it’s hard for you to sit on your back heel, find another way! Just sit down on the ground, left heel tucked in like you’re sitting cross-legged, and extend your right leg straight. Now, lean back, with your hands behind you. Get comfortable. Once you’re happy where you are, you have a good starting point.

3. Rather than hold yourself in your “deepest stretch” and wait for it to be over, try moving around gently.

Let’s use the modified runner’s lunge example again, where you sit down with one heel tucked in, and one leg straight forward. Start by leaning back. Take a moment and get used to things here. Next try walking your hands to the right, and leaning into them, maybe even bringing a forearm down to the ground. Do the same thing off to the left.

Keep a slight bend in your knee and stay relaxed in your leg, so as you roll from right to left, your leg can roll around too. Sometimes your knee will face straight up, sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left. That’s OK! You want to let your body move naturally and do its own thing. If you find a good spot to linger and breathe, that’s your spot. Linger and breathe as long as you like.

4. Breathe deep.

It might not be obvious at first, but if you want more flexibility, focus more on your breath than on your muscles. This will put your mind at ease, and create the right conditions for your muscles to release tension.

Breathe deep enough that every inhale lifts you a little out of wherever you are, and every exhale eases you back wherever you body feels like going. When your body is really relaxed, every breath will move you. If your breath isn’t moving you, try scanning through your body, and see where you might be holding tension or working harder than needed. Let the stress go, and breathe deep.

5. Avoid extreme positions.

Bending over backward to put your head in your behind isn’t likely to help you with much! A healthy body holds a balance between stability and mobility, strength and flexibility. Hyper-mobility in joints is a common affliction of yoga posers and performance artists (think ballerinas and Cirque du Soleil artists), and leads to reduced athletic capability, as well as all kinds of chronic pain and need for surgery later in life. Instead, you want to reach your middle point, where your body works at its best: nicely balanced between stability and mobility.

6. Drop the goals, get into you.

Let’s try this in the runner’s lunge again. Rather than just aim to touch your toes, or get your head to your knee every time, forget the goal! The problem with visible goals is there’s a whole lot of temptation to force our way into them, rather than find our way there peacefully. So we might get to the goal, but the outcome isn’t so good.

There’s so much more to you than just a pose, so many more directions you can take than just straight ahead. So explore! Move gently in every imaginable direction all around this forward fold. See what you find. It will probably be different every day, and every day you’ll get to know more and more of you. That’s going to be fun!

7. Move more, rather than pose more.

Take a standing forward bend as an example. Rather than hold straight forward, and trying to get deeper and deeper into the bend, relax and move! Put a little bend in your knees, and sway gently side to side. If you’re looking for more, move more. Widen your stance, so your body is more stable and ready to move.

Now lean so far off to the right that your left leg lengthens, and the foot might even leave the ground! Same thing on the other side. Your focus is on moving easily and comfortably all around where you are. Do this across the board, and you’ll be getting flexibility and mobility at the same time, without worrying about your flexibility.

8. Remember: sometimes where you are is where you need to be.

Balance is good. Right there in the middle, nowhere to go but here! There’s nothing wrong with you, and you don’t need to chase that old feeling of your first shoulder opener. Now you can get into a whole new world: the one that’s exactly right where you are. Let’s get started together. It’s going to be good.

Here’s a video tutorial to help you get going:

My Life as a Yoga Guinea Pig

That night, I went online and ordered a dozen different supplements that Anthony recommended. Some were really hard to find and had to be shipped in from overseas. Others were pretty common, but I discovered massive differences in cost and quality. All in all, it took about three weeks before I had everything I needed to get started, but once I got going, I never stopped.

I followed Anthony’s flexibility training program exactly as he instructed. It really only takes 15 minutes per day, and you do it right before bed so it’s easy to fit into your schedule. I began eating a plant-based diet and supplementing with the micronutrients Anthony recommended, and the results came very quickly.

In less than 30 days, I added six inches onto my forward bend, slid my legs into full lotus for the first time (just barely), and even practiced Wheel pose with straight arms.

In the office, people used to laugh at me when I bent over to pick a pen up off the ground—I was always “that stiff guy,” but using Anthony’s simple system, I doubled my stretching flexibility, and it felt amazing, like adding an extra room onto my house.

And it didn’t stop there.

Imagine waking up in the morning and being able to fold forward completely flat against your legs. What if your lower back was loose, limber, and pain-free all the time? What if your hips were open enough so you could sit on the floor with your legs crossed without any discomfort?

Flexible people sleep better, suffer from fewer injuries, build lean muscle more easily, dance better, and have higher self-esteem. Plus, bendy people are better at sports, and they’re even better in bed.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

There are two types of people: those who have always been limber and those who can’t even touch their toes without their hamstrings screaming out and their lower back igniting with pain. Since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re in the second category, like I was, but the good news is you can get back to your natural state.

When I started using this system, I noticed changes in a matter of days, and within a month, other people could see my body transforming. Within a year, I felt like I had an entirely new body. And the best part is, since 2007, I’ve now helped over 51,000 people double, triple, or even quadruple their flexibility using this same method.

Why Nutrition Matters

There’s a reason why bodybuilders eat loads of protein and endurance athletes suck down sugary gels—it makes them better at their individual sports. Almost every movement practice in the world has a preferred diet, but the traditional yoga diet of bread, milk, beans, and rice is a total disaster for health and flexibility.

In an ideal world, it would be great if we all ate a perfectly balanced, micronutrient-dense diet and drank spring water loaded with minerals. But we don’t. Micronutrient deficiencies are more common than not since the advent of mass agriculture because mass-produced food is synonymous with low micronutrient food.

Food today is grown for calories and taste, not nutrients. Earth’s soils are abused to the edge of infertility, and the result is that we have an abundance of foods that are loaded with calories but light on micronutrients. I’m talking about vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, and all kinds of other compounds we’ve yet to discover or fully understand.

For yoga students, the micronutrients are what really matters.

These micro or ‘small’ nutrients are essential for the health of your body’s connective tissues. Sulfur, magnesium, vitamin C, and essential fats, for example, are crucial for soft tissue health. Flexibility training is subtle energy work and highly demanding on your body. A protein shake or an energy gel is not ideal for yoga students. Green juice, sulfur-rich vegetables, omega-3s, vitamin C laden fruits… these are the foods of yoga students.

Gravity Yoga: Long-Hold, Passive Stretches

When I first started stretching, I wish someone had told me that muscles stretch best when they are relaxed. It seems obvious now, but I’d never thought it through. This concept is essential if you’re serious about increasing your flexibility, so I’ll say that again: muscles stretch best when relaxed.

This means when you’re in the middle of a dynamic movement, whether running or doing Warrior I, it’s very unlikely your soft tissues will lengthen. It can happen, but it’s a very slow process and much less effective than when you’re completely relaxed. Gravity Yoga involves long-hold, timed poses in a completely passive position.

Here’s why this matters.

If you’re looking to transform shortened tissues (tight hamstrings, locked up hips, stiff shoulders), your flexibility training must include passive, long-hold stretches with appropriate breathing to turn off your nervous system’s stretch reflex. We want your body like a wet noodle. You want to turn on your parasympathetic nervous system, and then gently lengthen your soft tissues.

This is so effective that within five minutes, you’ll see and feel a dramatic difference in your range of motion from your first session. Within a week, you’ll have made lasting changes, and within 30 days, your body will look and feel noticeably different in a variety of poses.

Here are the fundamentals of Gravity Yoga:

  • Long-hold poses are essential to turn off your stretch reflex and gently lengthen your soft tissues while disengaged

  • Nose-to-mouth breathing with a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio down-regulates your nervous system and allows your body to soften

  • Flexibility training should be done after any other type of exercise and ideally, before bed because you never want loosen joints before a workout

  • You must ‘meet or beat’ your passive stretch hold times daily to incite change, otherwise your body will naturally come out of poses before any lengthening happens

My most successful Gravity Yoga students practice for 15 minutes a day, right before bed. All you need is enough space to roll out a mat, a stopwatch (use your phone), and you’re ready to go. There is nothing magical or mystical about this practice, so if you want to stretch while you listen to music or watch your favorite show, go right ahead.

NOTE: Gravity Yoga has nothing in common with warm-up stretches, dynamic or ballistic stretching you probably learned in physical education class as a kid. This is intense, measured flexibility training that targets specific areas of the body, and you’ll immediately feel the difference.

Your five-day flexibility training schedule:

Monday
Hamstrings
2 yoga poses

Tuesday
Hips
2 yoga poses

Wednesday
Shoulders
3 yoga poses

Thursday
Back
3 yoga poses

Friday
Wrists, Twists, Ankles
3 yoga poses

Questions? Let’s talk! For any questions about stretching, nutrition, or anything else yoga-related, you can connect with me personally in our private Facebook group (details below).

Here’s What Students Are Saying

“Right away I noticed a significant difference in the amount of energy I had: before, during, and after a yoga class.” I challenge every yogi/yogini to try this product. Yes, it’s THAT good!

– Tunde Martinez (yoga student)

“Thank you! I already I notice a difference.” I have knees and ankles that get very stiff and sore, and in fact, I had two knee surgeries more than ten years ago. I now notice less recurring stiffness and more range of motion. It feels like I need less warm-up time.

– Eric S. (yoga student)

“I’ve practiced yoga for almost three years and Ashtanga is my favorite practice.” Though I have a pretty flexible body, I will sometimes get sore or pain in my hamstring. Also, I had a hard time doing Marichyasana D alone. I can do Marichyasana D right now, and I can feel that my backbends can be further deepened. Yet, I don’t feel sore, even after a strong practice. My body can recover very quickly! It’s amazing!

– Maisie Chan (yoga student)

“I have had huge flexibility gains in the 12 weeks I have used this product and the Gravity Pose techniques.” I have even been able to join a fitness center to do additional resistance training. I am 62, have had 2 serious spinal injuries at ages 16 and 28, and 7 spinal surgeries (3 lumbar, 4 cervical) in the past 44 years, along with several other invasive spinal procedures. Thanks to YOGABODY I’m doing better every day now!

– Luigi (yoga student)

“I do my gravity stretches every morning.” I love the CD as it contains plain instructions and at the same time makes me feel as if I’m taking a class in a group. I started practicing yoga about 20 years ago and I was quite flexible and bendy. Then I quit and lost a lot of movement. Some of the gravity poses help me feel like I still can move freely without feeling pain or tension. My work gives me neck, back and leg pain. After a couple of weeks of Gravity Yoga, I felt no pain in my neck, my back hurts less, and my legs have become lighter. Before it was quite difficult for me to walk. After approximately 100 meters I wanted to stop, to sit, to have a rest. Now I’m walking at least 7 km a day and feel good. Thanks a lot! I feel the life coming back to my body.

– Galina (yoga student)

“I have been using your ‘gravity’ poses to loosen my hips and they have done wonders for me.” I can sit in lotus pose for about 1 hour now without tremendous discomfort.

– Stephen McConnell (yoga student)

“I am so thankful for the YOGABODY Handbook.” It will surely deepen the benefits of my Bikram practice. Again many thanks and Namaste.

– Barbara (Bikram Yoga student)

“The stretches you laid out in your manual do wonders.” Lately I’ve found that if I bike my butt off and break a good sweat then do your long holds, my bad hamstring seems to improve much faster.

– Kris Waldron (Bikram Yoga teacher)

“The Gravity poses are amazingly effective, after just one week I feel a difference!”

– Marianne Huus Mjøen (yoga student)

“I received the YOGABODY Handbook about 10 days ago, and I have been using the Gravity poses every day (sometimes twice a day) since then.” I have to admit that this program greatly exceeded my expectations! I am 56 and I have been practicing yoga since I was 14. The problem is that I am (was) as stiff as a board and that yoga was always a struggle for me because I was always so far from the posture that I could not relax and benefit from it. I therefore had long periods of discouragement and I felt like I got nowhere, even after so many years. At least, that’s until I tried your Gravity poses. I think that a kind of miracle is starting to happen! Gravity poses work—and damn well! For the first time in my life, I see and feel progress! I obviously have to put in the work and allow time for more progress, but I trust the method and I know it is going to work wonders with a little patience, because I already feel quite different, I would say more ‘free.’ Great product, Lucas. God bless you!

– Paul Belizere (yoga student)

“I am 30 years old, and since I was 16, I have belonged to the Yog Sadhan Ashram.” I am also a yoga coach and I have used the Ashram for my daily yoga practice since I was 12 years old. I used to be very healthy naturally, but when I turned 23, I became very busy and concentrated on my studies, marriage and career. I stopped practicing every day until I could not even do Padahastasana. My weight jumped to 83 kg and I was very stiff. One day I found your site and read all your articles. It took two days, but I was convinced and changed my diet. I bought spirulina, MSM, chlorella, stopped eating fast food and started eating more raw vegetables like spinach, cabbage and also some plant foods. I was also a coffee boy before, but I cut it out. In one month I lost 10 kg and now I can also do CHAKRA ASAN—can you believe it? Thank you so much!

– Sanjeev (yoga student)

About Me

I’m a yoga teacher, trainer, podcast host, nutritional coach, yoga studio owner, and father of two. I started my yoga journey probably a lot like you. I was struggling with my health and yoga seemed to offer a holistic way for me to find my way back to balance. Flexibility is just one aspect of yoga, of course, but for me, when I was ‘stuck,’ it was the most important.

Once my body opened up, I could work on strength, arm balances, stress release, and breath control—but that came later. I’m easy to find online on social media, and if you’re in Barcelona, please come take class with us at the studios. Yoga practice is my passion and teaching is my career. I hope my experience and knowledge helps you advance toward your mind-body fitness goals.

Get Started Right Now

Gravity Yoga has been transformational for tens of thousands of students around the world, and it’s one of the most popular classes we teach in my studios. So if you’re feeling stuck in your practice and your flexibility, my suggestion is to simply get started. Clearly, what you’ve been doing up until now hasn’t worked, so it’s time to try a new approach.

Remember, all purchases come with a 100 percent money-back guarantee. This is only rewarding for us if you get results.

Since the video training part of this program is online streaming (or download), you will get access instantly. This means you can start on your 15 minute daily stretching program right away, this evening, no need to wait another day.

Thank you for your interest in YOGABODY, and I look forward to helping you double your flexibility.

Stay bendy,

Lucas Rockwood
Founder of YOGABODY

P.S. Some students get really ambitious and want to stretch for 30 or even 60 minutes a day. You can certainly do that, it’s helpful, but I’d encourage you to focus on the 15-minute-per-day commitment first. Stretching is most effective when done regularly rather than here and there for long sessions. The daily practice is where the magic lies. Time to roll out you mat!

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If for any reason (or no reason at all), you are unhappy with this program, simply send it back for a full, hassle-free refund anytime within the first year. There is no catch or complicated process to go through. We stand behind all our products unconditionally, so you can try out the program risk-free and decide for yourself.

How to get flexible fast for BJJ is probably the question of all BJJ practitioners. Jiu-Jitsu is the martial art for anyone. From pro-athletes to desk workers, from kids to grapplers over 40, everyone has a place in BJJ. However, the nature of the sport is such, that it does require certain athletic abilities and being flexible is very important for BJJ. Getting flexible for BJJ is not really a problem. It just requires some time and dedication to improve your flexibility to a point to have an unpassable guard and many other benefits.

The good news is that you do not have to possess any of them before you sing up for class. BJJ will develop every athletic ability you need to progress in the art. It will build strength by teaching you how to manipulate resisting objects. Your conditioning capacities are going to increase thanks to imposed demand. And you’re going to figure out how to get flexible in positions you never thought you could achieve.

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Today’s focus is going to be on this last point. How to get flexible for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not rocket science. Actually, BJJ is going to take care of the basics just by training. Certain areas of the body get more attention in flexibility terms when rolling around with people. Now, unless you’re unusually stiff, you’ll get a decent level of hip and shoulders flexibility just by training regularly. And, even if you’re stiff and/or coming back from injuries, there’s a way to improve flexibility.

Learning How To Get Flexible

First, all you stiff and brittle people out there, you have nothing to worry about – flexibility can be trained. Despite many people thinking it has lots to do with genetics, it is a quality that can be trained. Actually, the genetics part is more in regard to freakish flexibility than the lack of one. As long as you have no contortionism aspirations, you’ll do just fine.

Stretching is the first thing that comes to mind when people think about flexibility. Yes, stretching helps, but not all kinds of stretching, all the time. Stretching doesn’t just help muscles get longer and looser. Properly executed, it results in an increased range of motion, stronger tendons, and better-articulating joints. Flexibility is the product of a healthy muscular-skeletal system, and stretching is one way to get there.

“Do Yoga!” This is the most common solution to the “how to get flexible” conundrum. Yes, Yoga can help you get more flexible. No, Yoga is neither the only nor the ultimate way to do so. Yoga is a complete system in its own and dedicated to both BJJ and Yoga is a very time-consuming task. So, when looking to utilize Yoga in order to gain more flexibility for grappling, you have to be selective. Certain styles of Yoga are way more beneficial to Jiu-Jitsu than others. Furthermore, you might want to look only into certain poses and sequences that relate to your specific area of improvement.

Mobility work is another part of the puzzle. Although it can be placed into the stretching category, mobility extends further than that. It encompasses different modalities, like soft-tissue work and myofascial release. Yes, those funny looking foam roller and Lacrosse balls can help you become more flexible.

Stretching

To begin with, the best way to get the most out of stretching is to build a routine. The routine has to be geared towards an aspect you’re looking to improve. If it’s an issue specific to you then work on it. If it’s just basic BJJ flexibility you’re looking for, read on. The next step is to build the habit of performing your routine on a daily basis.

In order to dispell the myth of one-dimensional stretching, let’s begin with dynamic stretching. By definition, dynamic stretching uses momentum to take joints to the maximal range of motion (ROM). Whenever we perform movements with added speed and direction, our ROM increases. The maximal ROM for a static stretch is considerably shorter than that of a dynamic one. If you’re looking to fit dynamic stretching into a routine, try and do it at the beginning of one. A good warm-up should always have dynamic stretching elements in it.

Static stretching is what we all think of when we refer to stretches. It means holding a certain static position, that takes a body part to maximal ROM, for a set amount of time. It is slow, and constant, which makes it very safe. The slow and continuous manner of execution results in the relaxation of the muscles. This makes it perfect for a post-training cooldown. It also makes it horrible as a warm-up option. Static stretching actually inhibits your nervous system. Not a thing you’re actually looking to do before BJJ right? So all those flexibility gains you think you’re achieving while statically stretching prior to training? Well, the truth is, you’re not. You’ll only achieve an injury.

Hips Flexibility Exercises

Now, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of how to get flexible for BJJ. The one area specific to BJJ in terms of flexibility must be the hips. All that guard work, not even mentioning inverted guards, requires very high hip flexibility. The needs range from low requirements for the closed guard to probably the highest for rubber guard. Know your limits and start off slow, at the level most appropriate for you.

Let’s take things off with some dynamic stretches. We’ve all done the butterfly stretch, Well most of us have probably done it wrong. Whenever you’re doing butterfly stretches think dynamic instead of static.

Dynamic stretching takes the hips into an extended ROM, allowing for adaptations that will result in increased flexibility, mobility and stability of the joint. Check out this cool routine:

Stretching the hips for increased flexibility includes static stretching to a huge extent. The hip flexor stretch is the king here. It’ll elongate and relax your muscle, adding the benefits of recovery. Nothing better than some Yoga in order to do it to perfection.

Is this stretch too simple for you? No problem, if you’re ready to reach the next level of hip flexibility, give this Yoga class a try. It is hip specific and is going to take you into rubber guard territory in no time.

Taking Your Shoulders Beyond The Limit

The next aspect of flexibility for grappling has to be the shoulder girdle. Although not as highly trainable in the realm of flexibility as the hips, improvements can be made. The shoulder is a complex joint with multiple directions of movement. The complexity of the joint can result in decreased ROM in some or all of these areas. BJJ takes a heavy toll on the shoulders, so keeping them healthy and mobile is essential.

That said, let’s see how to get flexible shoulders for BJJ. First and foremost, mobility training takes priority. The best way to ensure your shoulders ROM is as optimal as possible is doing dislocators. Useful hint- go for a band instead of a bar or stick.

Now that you have the basic ROM down, it’s time to focus on certain aspects of the shoulder and making them better. Here’s are a couple of great selections of static shoulder stretches to help you get to that next level. You can use them as given routines or combine them to fit your own needs.

BJJ Mobility Drills for Hips
Use Gymnastics to Become Freakishly Strong For BJJ
Sciatica Stretch Variations To Fix BJJ Lower Back Pain
Is Your BJJ Style Adapted To Your Body Type?

3 Easy Stretches That Will Relax You Before Bed

Whether you’re an athlete, spin junkie, or are just clocking in extra hours at your office desk, stretching can help prevent injury, loosen up tight muscles, and relax you. And, is there really any better way to chill out and calm your mind than a little me time at the end of the day? We think not.

Jeff Brannigan from Stretch*d, a New York recovery center offering customized experiences using dynamic, assisted stretch methods, demonstrates a few stretches you can practice at bedtime. Here, three exercises to stretch your legs, glutes, and shoulders before hitting the hay.

RELATED: 5 Stretches to Try With Your Workout Buddy

Foot flexer

Lie on your back with one knee bent and the same foot firmly placed on the floor. Stretch your opposite leg into the air and loop a resistance band around this foot. With both hands, gently pull the resistance band toward your face, feeling the stretch in the back of the leg. After several reps, switch feet.

Gloating glutes

Lying on your back, keep one leg straight and lift your opposite leg. As you bring the leg into your chest, grab hold of your calf and ankle with both hands. Gently pull your leg closer to your chest until you feel a deep stretch in your glute. Repeat several times and switch sides.

RELATED: 11 Celeb-Approved Workouts for a Toned, Sculpted Butt

Platter + trap tapper

Sitting up straight with your legs crossed, grab one arm above your elbow with your opposite hand, and pull it across your body toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Tip: Make sure to keep your elbow at shoulder height.

After several reps, stretch the same arm over the opposite shoulder as if giving yourself a hug, and use your opposite hand to grab your elbow, gently pushing it towards you until you feel a stretch. Repeat the whole process on the other side.

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5 Great Stretches To Do Before Bed

When we think about great fitness, we often envision big muscles, rippling six-packs or marathon runners. However, we often forget about flexibility and balance, two equally important pillars of fitness that should not be overlooked. Being flexible means you’ll have less pain and stiffness, and be far less prone to injury, especially as you age.

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One of the best ways to improve your flexibility is to stretch, and many people find that 30 minutes before bedtime is a great time to meditate, wind down and perform some simple, gentle stretches. As a bonus, making stretching a part of your nightly routine may also help you to sleep better: having a set routine that gives you time to unwind in a predictable way every night can help to settle your thoughts and get you ready to drift off. Finally, releasing muscular tension through stretching can in itself relax you and help you prepare for bed.

How To Stretch

As you stretch, make sure that you are not forcing anything. When stretching, you should go to the point of slight discomfort, but not to the point of pain. Breathe slowly as you stretch: physical therapist Alice Beckett-Wilson says, “All stretches should be done with a focus on breathing.” If you ever feel pain when you’re stretching, back out of the stretch; you don’t want to tear anything.

Here are five basic stretches to do before bed that will have you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated every morning.

1. Modified Hurdler Stretch

A lot of us have tight hamstrings. Whether you spend a lot of time on your feet or spend your days sitting at a desk, the hamstrings have a way of tightening up on us. Taking some time to stretch them at night can help to undo some of the day’s tension.

Sit on the ground with one leg extended out in front of you. Bend the other knee and place the sole of the foot against the thigh of your straight leg. Lean forward over your straight leg. Avoid rounding your back. Breathe slowly and hold for 30 seconds.

2. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

The hip flexors are also muscles that get tight for many of us. These muscles are the ones that help to raise the legs or to bend the body forward. Because many of us spend much of our time sitting, these muscles spend a lot of time in contraction. As a result, if we don’t take steps to prevent it, these muscles will often become stiff and shortened. The kneeling hip flexor stretch is a great way to help with this.

Begin in a kneeling position, then bring one leg forward and place it with the foot flat on the ground. Bend the knee to a 90 degree angle, ensuring that the knee is over the ankle—do not allow the knee to float to the right or left.

Shift forward to stretch your back leg. Keep your hands on your front thigh, and make sure that your back is kept straight. Hold for 30 seconds.

3. Lying Piriformis Stretch

The lying piriformis stretch is a great way to improve flexibility in your glutes and hips, which can help to fight back pain and help you get a better night’s sleep.

Start lying on your back with your knees bent. Lift your right leg and place the ankle against your left thigh. Grasp your left thigh with your hands and pull it into you until you’re at about 90 degrees. You should feel the stretch deep in your glutes and hips. Breathe deeply and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on both sides.

4. Cat/Cow

This motion stretches the muscles of your spine and core. Begin on your hands and knees, with your arms straight under your shoulders. Slowly breathe out as you round through your back like a frightened cat, tightening your abdominal muscles and rounding your neck downward. Then slowly exhale as you arch your back and look up toward the ceiling. Continue to move slowly with your breath for 20 breaths.

5. Extended Cone Stretch

Begin standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Raise both arms above your head and clasp the fingers together. Breathe in deeply and bend your whole body to the left. Try to really feel yourself lengthening through the side-body. Hold here for a breath, then return to the middle on your next inhale. On your next exhale, bend your body to the right and repeat. Perform this three more times on each side.

After you’ve done these stretches, you’ll feel more relaxed and loose. If you notice that a specific place in you is still tight, do a quick stretch for that spot. Sweet dreams!

Sources:

Learn how to stop waking up with back pain

Many Australians suffer from back pain in the morning. There are many stretches to do in bed which can help relieve back pain – without you even having to get up. You can do them to help you relax and relieve back pain before drifting off to sleep or first thing in the morning to help you take on your day.

Dr Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute says, “The greatest incidence of slipped discs occurs within 30 to 60 minutes after we wake up.” Oexman recommends taking a few minutes to ease into the day with simple back stretches. If you wake up every morning with back pain, try some some of these stretches for pain and discomfort relief. It is important you select the mattress that suits your body best to minimise waking up with a sore back. Take our Sleep Selector quiz to find the mattress that is right for you.

Spinal twist

Lie on your back in the middle of your bed. Bend both knees into your chest and then cross them over to the left side of your body. You can let your knees hang slightly over the edge of the bed for a deeper stretch.

Extend your arm in a T position and look to your right. Hold the pose 15 to 30 seconds.

Lift your knees using your abdominal muscles back to centre and repeat on the other side.

Knee to chest back stretch

Lie on your back with your knees extended.

Gently bend your right knee into your chest.

Clasp your hands in front of your shin and gently pull down to increase the stretch.

Keep your left leg relaxed and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the left knee.

Hamstring stretch

Lie on your back and raise your left leg as high as you can, keeping your pelvis flat on the mattress.

Hold your thigh and move your leg, slowly towards your head.

Flex your foot to stretch your calf. Hold the position for 30 seconds and then switch sides.

Hip and lower back stretch

Lie on your back and bend both knees and hold on to the balls of your feet.

Use your arms to gently pull your knees toward the floor beside your chest.

Relax your head and shoulders for 30 seconds.

Cobra

Lie on your stomach and extend your arms out in front of you.

Keeping your legs and pelvis grounded, slowly begin to walk your hands towards your chest. As your torso lifts off the bed, keep a slight bend in your elbows. Walk with your hands until you feel a stretch in your abdominal muscles.

Relax your shoulders away from your ears and lengthen your neck. If you can do so comfortably, lower your head back between your shoulder blades. You will feel a stretch in your chest and neck.

Maintain the pose for 30 seconds and then lower your torso back to the bed.

The Cobra is great at lengthening the muscles in your abs, chest and neck and also increases flexibility in your spine.

Piriformis stretch

The Piriformis muscle runs through the buttocks and can contribute to back and leg pain. To stretch this muscle lie on your back and cross one leg over the other.

Gently pull the knee towards your chest until you feel a stretch. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, relax and repeat 3 more times.

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Leg Cramps at Night

Leg Cramps at Night

What are nocturnal leg cramps?

Nocturnal leg cramps are pains that occur in the legs during the night. They usually cause awakenings from sleep, but they may also occur while awake at night during periods of inactivity. These cramps mostly happen in the calf muscles but can also occur in the thighs or feet. Nocturnal leg cramps are quite painful and cause the affected muscles to feel tight or knotted. Symptoms may last from several seconds up to several minutes. There might also be muscle soreness after the cramp goes away.

Who gets nocturnal leg cramps?

Although anyone can get nocturnal leg cramps, the number of people who get them increases with age. Slightly more women than men experience these leg cramps.

Nocturnal leg cramps have been reported by:

  • 50 to 60 percent of adults
  • 7 percent of children and teens
  • 40 percent of pregnant women

Some 20 percent of patients who experience nocturnal leg cramps on a daily basis seek medical attention.

Are nocturnal leg cramps the same as restless legs syndrome?

No. While both types of leg disturbances tend to happen at night, or at rest, restless leg syndrome does not cause severe, cramping pain. While restless legs syndrome can be painful, it is more of a discomfort, or a crawling sensation that results in a desire to move the legs. While moving, the restlessness is relieved, but the discomfort returns when movement stops. This does not happen with nocturnal leg cramps where the tightened muscle needs to be actively stretched out for relief.

What causes nocturnal leg cramps?

The cause of nocturnal leg cramps is often times unknown, but some cases have been linked to:

  • Sitting for long periods of time
  • Over-exertion of the muscles
  • Standing or working on concrete floors
  • Sitting improperly

Nocturnal leg cramps have also been linked to certain medical conditions and medications. These include:

  • Narrowing of the arteries/circulation-related diseases
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back (lumbar canal stenosis), which can compress nerves that travel from lower back to legs
  • Cirrhosis of the liver (scarring of the liver) due to alcoholism, hepatitis, or other causes
  • Pregnancy
  • Alcoholism
  • Dehydration/electrolyte imbalances
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Nerve damage from cancer treatment
  • Kidney failure/hemodialysis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Neuromuscular disorders (neuropathy, myopathy, motor neuron disease)
  • Structural disorders (flat feet)
  • Endocrine disorders (diabetes, hypothyroidism)
  • Medications: IV iron sucrose, conjugated estrogens, raloxifene (Evista®), naproxen (Naprosyn®), teriparatide (Forteo®)

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8 Stretches for Your Best Night’s Sleep

If you’re like most Americans, you spend an average of 13 hours a day sitting. Plugging away at our desks, in our cars, in movies, and at the dinner table — we’re sitting more often than we think.

So it’s no surprise then when you get into bed at the end of the day if you feel restless and unable to relax. Your muscles need activity for proper circulation and health, and if you’re sitting hunched at your computer, or stressed out in traffic, your aching muscles will need some help at the end of the day to relax.

Stretching before bed is one of the best ways to release that built up tension and get the best night’s sleep you’ve had in a while. Most people know to stretch before and after exercise, or in the morning to energize themselves, but there’s actually a ton of reasons to stretch before bed as well.

Benefits of Stretching Before Bed

So why exactly is stretching before bed so helpful for sleep? In addition to getting regular exercise, stretching offers many perks for your body and mind.

For starters, developing an evening stretching routine helps your body to enter a relaxed state more quickly, and stay in a deeper sleep for longer. With fewer points of pain along your back, neck, and shoulders, you’re less likely to toss and turn. This is great for your sleep — and your partner’s sleep, too.

Stretching provides a great alternative nighttime activity to scrolling through social media or reading emails on a screen. When done correctly, studies have shown that practices like yoga and stretching can be incredibly relaxing and meditative. Focusing on your body and the present actions can be a great way to separate yourself from the day’s stresses and signal to your subconscious to stop worrying.

For those more concerned with their beauty sleep, there have been studies that demonstrate that regular mindful stretching actually reduces signs of aging. Since stress has been proven to affect aging on a cellular level, stretching before bed can reduce stress and actually keep you looking younger, for longer.

For some great stretching routine that will relax your whole body, check out these stretches:

What to know about leg cramps at night

The following sections discuss possible causes of leg cramps at night and risk factors that make a person more likely to experience them.

Tired muscles

According to a review about nocturnal leg cramps, the research available suggests that muscle fatigue is a primary cause. Athletes are more likely to get leg cramps after doing higher than normal levels of activity.

Overexertion, such as exercising the muscles very intensely for a long time, may cause some people to experience more cramping later in the day.

Standing for long periods during the day, which is common in many jobs, may fatigue muscles. The muscles tire during the day and may be more likely to cramp later on during the night.

Inactivity during the day

Share on PinterestA person may be more prone to leg cramps at night if they are inactive for extended periods during the day.

Another leading theory is that sitting for an extended period, such as while working at a desk, may cause the muscles to shorten over time.

This physical inactivity when a person has not stretched their muscles for a while may increase the risk of cramps, and these can commonly occur in bed at night.

Someone who does not stretch their muscles or exercise regularly may be more at risk of leg cramps at night. The muscles in people who are less physically active may be shorter, which may increase the risk of cramping or spasms.

Body position

Sitting or lying in a certain way that restricts movement or blood flow to the legs, such as resting one leg on the other or with the legs crossed, may lead to cramps.

People may wish to experiment with sleeping in more stretched out positions to see if this eases their nighttime leg cramps.

Older age

As people age, they may also be more likely to have leg cramps at night. As a review published in the journal BMC Family Practice notes, up to 33% of people over 50 years of age experience chronic nocturnal leg cramps.

Pregnancy

There may also be a link between pregnancy and leg cramps at night. This might be due to the increased nutritional demands or hormone changes in the body during pregnancy.

A side effect of medication

Many medications list muscle cramping as a side effect. Few of these are directly associated with leg cramps, but there are some, including:

  • intravenous iron sucrose
  • naproxen
  • teriparatide (Forteo)
  • raloxifene (Evista)
  • levalbuterol (Xopenex)
  • albuterol/ipratropium (Combivent)
  • conjugated estrogens
  • pregabalin (Lyrica)

Medical conditions

Some chronic medical conditions may also put a person at risk for chronic leg cramps, such as:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes
  • alcohol use disorder
  • kidney failure
  • liver failure
  • lumbar canal stenosis
  • flat feet
  • hypothyroidism
  • osteoarthritis
  • nerve damage
  • nerve disorders

Anyone who thinks one of these conditions may be the cause of their leg cramps should talk to a doctor for further information or guidance.

Yoga stretches for sleep

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