The following are some general flexibility tips. They are based on my own experience and what makes stretching more comfortable (or less uncomfortable) and leads to improved flexibility with less risk of injury.
When doing yoga stretching to improve flexibility, you can warm up by doing easier stretches first and then work gradually towards more challenging stretches. When doing easier "warm up" stretches you may find it helpful to repeatedly (and slowly) activate and release the muscles being stretched.
When doing yoga for flexibility exercises or stretches, move slowly and smoothly.
If you've never practiced moving slowly and smoothly then you'll find that it takes focus and concentration, exactly what you need to bring you into the present and into your body and into what you are doing.
As well as forcing you to focus this also improves your ability to control your body. And that's important for flexibility gains since controlling whether muscles are active or relaxed is what will help get you more flexible.
Several stretching techniques you can use when doing yoga for flexibility stretches and exercises include:
You may find that activating both driver and target muscle takes you deeper into the stretch. But it can depend on how you feel each day.
The above suggestions may not work in all situations. Experiment to find what works and what doesn't work.
Yoga for flexibility exercises and stretches can be paired as follows for balance.
For arm and shoulder stretches,
Balancing stretches (and yoga poses) can be important in the long term since it helps avoid one set of muscles being overworked or overstretched in relation to opposing muscles. Improving muscle balance may be one factor that can help you better improve flexibility while remaining healthy.
This flexibility tip is particularly important when doing relaxed stretching. After relaxed stretching you may find that your muscles feel weak or inactive. Stretching your legs you may find that you have to walk carefully afterwards. This is one reason for not doing relaxed stretching as a warm up for other exercises, especially before weight lifting.
Doing reactivation exercises helps to turn on the muscles that you've just stretched. For hip stretches I find balancing on one leg to be a particularly helpful exercise since the leg and hip muscles have to turn on to help keep you balanced.
If you do decide to do relaxed stretching prior to other exercises, make sure that you transition to the next exercise slowly, smoothly and with awareness.
One any one day you stretch you may find a particular way of doing the stretch that seems magical. But then the next day you try to repeat the technique and it doesn't work. To continually improve your flexibility play with different techniques. As you get more experience, on any given day you'll then know which technique to use. In this case flexibility is a mindset. Are you flexible enough in your mind to change the way that you do a stretch?
Make your yoga poses less wobbly with less effort. Grounding and centering are two techniques for creating stability in yoga poses.
Arm supported yoga poses can be used to strengthen the arms and shoulders. Includes plank, chaturanga dandasana, downward dog, dolphin pose, side plank, wheel, reverse plank, table top pose.
Rather than fighting through joint pain here is an overview of the approach that I've used to help alleviate hip pain, knee pain or shoulder joint pain while doing yoga poses.
Make balancing easier. Use pressure sensitivity to feel your center of gravity.
A yoga approach to how to do squats including how to stay balanced, and avoiding knee or hip pain even while going all the way down.
Camel Yoga Pose or ustrasana is a kneeling pose that can be used to stretch the hip flexors. One key action that may help in getting your pelvis forwards more is pushing your hands forwards, either against your feet or against the floor.
The transverse abdominis can have an affect on sacroiliac joint stability as well as stability of the lumbar spine and the T12/L1 junction.
Fluid tensegrity joint anatomy looks at the tendency of the body to maintain space within the joints. The question is, how is this space maintained?
Why improve body awareness? So that you can use your body more effectively and fix problems yourself when they arise.
How is tensegrity maintained at the joints even as the body adopts non-tensegrity postures or movements?
Why being present is the oppositve of thinking and how to utilize both modes effecively.
Pigeon yoga pose variations include lifting the front hip and resting it on the floor. Learn how to activate the front hip in either variation for better hip control and more effective stretching.
Creating tensegrity in yoga poses. What is tensegrity, why should we aim to achieve it when doing yoga or any other activity where mindfullness is required?
Obturator externus anatomy for yoga teachers. If you have hip pain in forward bends and your hip feels weak, obturator externus may be the culprit.
Yoga stretches for tight hamstrings. Learn to feel when your legs are active and when they are relaxed so that you can gradually stretch tight hamstrings.
An experienced yogi's yoga pose has a sense of bigness. How do you as a beginner add bigness to your yoga poses?
Basic yoga sequence for flexibility. Includes hip, hamstring, quad stretches and neck stretches and recovery exercises.
Back strengthening yoga poses can be used to strengthen the back of the body including hamstrings, glutes and both the lower and upper back.
A look at getting your feet off of the wall and balancing in handstand plus tips for greater arm stability.
Yoga pose sequences for flexibility and strength. These sequences can be used for improving hip and shoulder flexibility and strength.