If you can't kneel because your ankles are too tight then these toe and ankle stretches may help. The key in all of them is to activate (and then relax) the toes by pressing them into the floor. I've also include simple movements that help you to add weight to the stretch and then take it off. In all cases work slowly and smoothly. Smoothly add weight and smoothly subtract it again.
To learn to kneel comfortably as shown below, start of on all fours.
Slowly move your hips and torso backwards . When your weight is off of your hands you can lift your hands. As you move your hips back bring your torso slowly upright. Press your toes down into the floor as you do so. Stop when you need to and slowly and smoothly return to the starting position. Repeat a few times (x3 or more) seeing if you can go a little bit further each time.
If your knees hurt when you do this, then work at sitting up slowly, and stop before the onset of knee pain.
Remember to press your toes into the floor as you sit back. Relax your toes as you go forwards again.
Try to push the tops of all ten toes evenly into the floor.
You will probably need several weeks (or months) of practice before you can knee comfortably. Once you can kneel comfortably you can increase the stretch by leaning back and placing your hands on the floor.
Slowly lift your knees to stretch the fronts of the ankles and the toes, then lower the knees.
Move slowly. Stop if you need to.
A stretch for the bottoms of the toes is to kneel with the toes tucked under.
Bend forwards initially with hands on the floor. This is the relaxed or resting position. Slowly sit up while pressing your toes into the floor. Then slowly bend forwards again and relax your toes.
Once you can get your butt to your heels, hold the seated position. Slowly press your toes down and then relax them.
Lengthen your spine as you press your toes down. Then relax your spine as you relax your toes.
To increase the toe stretch your can try walking your knees a little bit forwards (away from your toes.)
To stretch the backs of the ankles you can use the downward facing dog yoga pose. First try lifting your heels as high as possible. Then to help touch your heels to the floor (and stretch your ankles) focus on pulling upwards on the fronts of your feet.
You may also find this ankle stretching video on youtube helpful.
Learn how to use Friction to improve leg and arm strength.
Simple exercises with easy to follow instructions
Making difficult poses like Chaturanga Dandasana easier to learn.
Learn Your Body with
Frictional Arm and Leg Strength
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Your iphone needs power in order to sense your touch. Proprioception needs muscle activity in order to sense your body.
Some simple exercises so that you can work towards the pistol squat gradually.
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.
This sequence of seated yoga poses includes lotus and virasana variations, janu sirsasana and marichyasana variations as well as more basic seated poses like bound angle, pigeon and seated forward bend.
These hip flexor stretches open up the fronts of the hips and can be used as a preparation for front to back splits. Bent knee hip stretches can be used to focus on rectus fermoris.
Strengthen your hands, your arms, glutes and hamstrings with these standing forward bend variations.
The small actions in this standing psoas stretch can be used to stretch both the upper and lower fibers of the psoas muscle.
Variations of the standing psoas stretch that use the same basic actions.
Here's a break down of the steps of Ashtanga Yoga Surya Namaskar A to make this sun salutation easier to learn and remember.
A reclining psoas stretch I learned from a Richard Freeman Workshop. The better you understand your anatomy the easier it is to work on your body effectively.
The hip stretches included on this page can be used to stretch and improve flexibility of the hip flexors, hip extensors, adductors and abductors.
Friction and pressure are two simple techniques that I use to help my students get stronger and more flexible. These simple techniques also offer a roadway into not only learning how to activate your muscles, but getting a feel for them and your body. Three challenging yoga poses that I use these techniques in are chaturanga, front splits and side splits. While they might not help you get all the way down into the splits, they'll help you feel stronger, and more integrated as you work towards them. And because I've got to pay for my daughters schooling this week, I'm offering a discount on the frictional muscle control videos. (First 100 people only can save over 30%).
Active stretching teaches you muscle control to not only improve flexibility but also body awareness. You'll learn how to adjust postures for better feel as well as more control through a broader range of motion.
Standing exercises for low back pain plus anatomy that can affect the low back and how to use that anatomical understanding.
Experience your body (and understand it) with sensational yoga poses.
Is it a bad idea to heel strike while barefoot running? What are the possible benefits of heel striking? When should you not heel strike?
These yoga poses for abs work on the abdominal muscles (and hips) in both standing positions and seated positions.
Here are the Ashtanga Standing Pose Vinyassas, with inhale movements highlighted in red.
Single joint hip flexors include iliacus, pectineus, obturators, gemelli and gluteus minimus. Use them to help improve your forward bends.
In this preparation for compass pose use your arms to pull your leg towards you for a seated hamstring stretch. To modify, use a strap.