The wide ranging benefits of yoga are very well documented. A few simple movements just a few minutes a day can help to drastically improve our mental health! Yoga employs a wonderful menagerie of breathing exercises to decrease stress and anxiety, and help you to put your worldly problems into perspective. Yoga also improves our physical health by increasing joint mobility, muscular strength, posture, balance and even flexibility! The benefits are endless!
Yoga is particularly great because the focus on posing in the correct form, and then moving slowly with deliberate and controlled movements, decreases the risk of injury and promotes overall joint health. It is the perfect weapon to use against the ageing process! Combine it with a daily shot of our 10,000mg high quality marine collagen formula and you have the foundations in place to look good and feel great, no matter your age. We all know that flexibility is important, and collagen along with yoga can help to keep the joints supple.
But just why is it so important to enjoy good movement?
What is flexibility and why is it important?
Similar to mobility, flexibility is the range of motion at a joint, or a group of joints. Flexibility exercises, which are a fundamental part of yoga, aim to lengthen the muscles by stretching them slowly and gently. This allows a wider range of movement and improves posture, balance and strength. You will find yourself much less sore after carrying out daily tasks, like carrying heavy shopping, cleaning or gardening, because you are training your body to withstand more physical stress!
Can collagen increase joint flexibility?
The short answer - Yes!
Collagen is a wonderful type of protein found in the connective tissues of your muscles. It increases the elasticity of your muscles, tendons and ligaments which in turn makes you more supple and flexible! If you regularly include collagen in your diet, you will ultimately find it easier to stretch, and you will feel less stiff in your joints too!
Combine collagen with yoga and you will have everyone guessing what your age is!
5 easy yoga exercises to boost your flexibility
Try these very simple and gentle yoga exercises to get yourself started on the journey to a more flexible - and healthier - body!
1) Mountain Pose > Forward Fold > Halfway lift
This simple yoga sequence can be done anywhere - even in the office! It is fantastic for stretching your hamstrings and lower back.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms down by your sides with your palms facing forwards. Focus on breathing deeply into your belly through your nose, then slowly releasing your breath out through your mouth. Take a minute to hold this Mountain Pose and breathe deeply. You may wish to close your eyes and focus on calming your mind.
- Slowly reach your hands forward and up, stretching for the ceiling with your fingers splayed wide - imagine you are holding a giant beach ball above your head! This is a great full body stretch.
- Gently lower your arms and tuck your chin into your chest as you very slowly bend forward and down, keeping a generous bend in your knees. You can let your fingertips drag on the floor and your head hang heavy. This is a Forward Fold. Hold this for 10-15 seconds.
- Slowly slide your hands up your shins to your knees and raise your upper body so that you are in a flat-back position at a 90 degree angle to your legs. Focus on having length in the neck and keep your chest parallel to the floor. Hold this pose for 2 or 3 seconds. This is a Halfway Lift.
- Then slide your hands back down your shins and return to the Forward Fold position. Remember to breathe deeply and relax your jaw. Spend at least 15 seconds here to feel your hamstrings lengthening. Repeat this sequence 2 or 3 times.
2) Tabletop > Cat > Cow
A staple movement in Yoga is the Cat and Cow! It may feel a little awkward, but it’s wonderful for increasing flexibility in your spine and counteracting all of those days spent hunched over your desk!
- Start on all fours on a mat or carpet - feel free to use a towel or blanket to pad your knees. Focus on having your wrists under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips. Draw your shoulders away from your ears and keep your back straight - as if you were a table!
- Then, drop your belly and open up your chest as you raise your chin slightly. This is the Cow Pose. Hold this for 3-5 seconds.
- Then slowly curl your tailbone under and tuck your chin to your chest as you arch your back like a cat - imagine pulling your belly button towards your spine. This is the Cat pose. Hold this for 3-5 seconds.
- Return to Table Top, and repeat this process, focussing on stretching your
3) Simple Seated Twist
This gentle exercise is a lifesaver for your upper back! It helps to counteract that dreaded hunched over posture, and increases flexibility in your spine.
- Sit up tall in a cross-legged position with your spine straight and your shoulders down and back. You can sit on a blanket or a towel to raise your hips if you are finding this difficult. Bow your head slightly to feel a lengthening in the neck.
- With your hands in prayer position at your heart, and your thumbs touching your sternum, slowly twist the upper body (including head, hands and chest) over to the right, so you feel a gentle twist in your back. Breathe deeply here, focussing your breath in through the nose, and out through the mouth. You may wish to soften your gaze or close your eyes to help you focus. Hold this twist for 10 seconds, then return to centre.
- Repeat this movement to the left hand side and breathe deeply. Keep your chest out and your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat these steps 2-3 times. You will find that you can twist a little bit further with each stretch!
4) Plank > Downward Facing Dog
If you want to increase your flexibility and challenge yourself - then this is the exercise for you! Plank is an excellent exercise for increasing muscle strength and engaging your core muscles, and Downward Dog is the mother of all stretches for the hamstrings, calves and even your feet!
- Start in a plank position (or a half plank with your knees on the floor), focussing on having your hands under your shoulders, and your feet/knees a hip-width apart. Keep your back straight, focussing on keeping your hips in line with your shoulders. Engage your core and imagine you are pulling your belly button up to your spine. Make sure your weight is not crashing into your wrists. Hold this position for 10-20 seconds.
- Next, send your hips up and back and extend through the shoulders into the Doward Facing Dog position. Concentrate on sending your sit-bones high so you can feel the stretch in your hamstrings and calves. Keep a generous bend in your knees and pedal your feet alternatively so the stretch is gradual. Keep pedalling in this position for 20-30 seconds.
- Return to Plank or Half Plank and repeat this exercise 1 or 2 more times. Feel the burn!
5) Tabletop > Extended Child’s Pose
This particular exercise is fantastic for increasing flexibility in your lower back, your shoulders and even your quadriceps!
- Start in Tabletop position on all fours as described above, focussing on using your neck as an extension of your spine and keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Think about keeping your shins on train tracks parallel behind your knees.
- Open your knees to the edges of your yoga mat and point your toes inwards so your toes are touching.
- Whilst keeping your hands planted, tuck your chin into your chest, send your hips backwards so that your shoulders are extended and you are sitting on your heels. Let your head go heavy and have contact with the mat, and hold this Extended Child’s Pose for at least 30 seconds.
Coupling regular exercise with a healthy and balanced diet is essential to improve your mental and physical health. It is even better if you can supplement your diet to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need. You can check out our latest collagen deals HERE.
And if you are also interested in specifically improving your shoulder mobility then you will love this BLOG: These 6 Simple Shoulder Exercises Can Help Improve Your Mobility. You can read it HERE.
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This blog post was guest written by Holly Everett. Holly holds a BSc in Exercise and Sport Science along with an MA in Exercise and Sport Science: Coaching Studies. Look out for more great exercise and mobility tips from Holly coming to the Reverse Life blog.