Flexibility exercises can help you get a youthful body. Try our 30 day challenge to improve your flexibility and you'll soon see the benefits.
Age, stress, and a working life spent hunched over a computer can cause poor posture and stiffness, all of which can add years to your appearance. Luckily, yoga makes it easy to improve flexibility. ‘It takes your joints through their full range of motion and extends, flexes and rotates your spine,’ says yoga and Pilates personal trainer Caroline Sandry, who has created this 30 day challenge full of flexibility exercises.
‘These classic moves help open your chest and shoulders – for great posture – as well as loosening hips and relieving tense muscles.’ Your only rule? ‘Listen to your body and push the stretch as far as you can, but always avoid any discomfort or strain,’ advises Caroline.
There are several home workouts that you can try, it all depends on what your goals are. This challenge focuses on improving your flexibility.
The flexibility test:
To test how well your flexibility improves over the 30 days, perform these two moves before and after the challenge.
The hamstring test:
Sit up with your legs out straight in front of you and notice how far your hands reach on your legs.
The shoulder test:
Place your right palm behind your head and down between your shoulder blades. Then reach your left hand up behind your waist towards your right hand and notice the space between both hands.
The seven flexibility exercises you need to do explained:
Caroline has included seven moves to help improve your flexibility gradually. Use a stopwatch app to count the seconds, or set the timer on your phone.
The spinal twist version 1
Sit up tall, legs in front of you. Bend right knee and place right foot outside left knee. Place right hand behind you, inhale, lift chest, then exhale and turn your upper body to the right. Hold right knee with left hand. Repeat on the other side.
The downward dog version 1
Start on all fours with knees and feet hip-width apart and hands slightly in front of shoulders. Inhale and press palms down. Exhale and lift hips up and back, pressing chest gently back towards knees. Hold and breathe deeply, keeping knees slightly bent. Exhale as you lower back on all fours then go into a child’s pose (bottom back to heels, head on the floor, arms beside you).
The spinal twist version 2
As above but bring left elbow to outer side of right knee. Switch sides and bring right elbow to outer side of left knee, as here.
The downward dog version 2
As before, lift hips up. Gently press right heel towards floor and start to straighten leg. Switch sides continually in a gentle, rhythmic movement, breathing steadily. Exhale as you lower back on to all fours and go into child’s pose.
This video gives and easy guide to the flexibility exercises
The spinal twist version 3
As above, but this time bend left knee, placing foot outside right buttock. Left hand holds right ankle. Switch sides and repeat (bend right knee, placing foot outside left buttock and right hand holds left ankle).
The downward dog version 3
As before, lift hips up. Gently straighten both legs as much as is comfortbale and ease heels down towards the floor. Hold and continue breathing deeply and steadily. Exhale as you lower back on to all fours and go into child’s pose.
The seated forward bend
Sit tall, legs in front of you. Inhale, stretch your arms up, lengthening spine and lifting chest. Exhale, bend forward from hips with straight back and rest hands on legs. Repeat and hold, breathing deeply.
To help keep a track of your progress and keep you motivated use our handy tick chart. You can see how far through the 30 day challenge you are and how long you have left! The hardest part is starting so get to it!