Yoga Exercises for Flexibility, Relaxation, and Strength


Standing Cat Stretch

Standing Cat Stretch
Paige Waehner

This standing version of the Cat-Cow stretch is perfect for releasing tension in the lower back and hips while stretching the core.

  1. Lower into a squat with the knees behind the toes, the hands on the thighs and the torso parallel to the floor.
  2. Arch the back and look up as you inhale, opening up through the chest.
  3. Exhale and pull the abs in as you round the back, dropping the head and pushing the hands into the thighs to increase the stretch.
  4. Think of expanding through the upper back and lifting it towards the ceiling.
  5. Inhale and move back into your arch, smoothly moving back and forth between the movements as you follow your breath.
  6. Repeat for 8-10 reps.

Modified Warrior I on the Ball

Modified Warrior I on the Ball
Paige Waehner

Warrior I is an excellent stretch for the entire front body - the chest, abs and hip flexors. In the traditional version, you also get a great stretch in the calf of the back leg, but this modified version incorporates a ball for extra support. This modified Warrior I is perfect for people who have tight calves or problems with balance when doing this exercise.

  1. Get on the knees in front of an exercise ball and take the left leg forward into a lunge so that it's right next to the ball.
  2. Lean the hips into the ball and gently roll forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the right hip. Position yourself so that you are completely supported on the ball.
  3. Inhale and sweep the arms up overhead and into a gentle backbend, feeling a stretch in the chest and abs.
  4. Exhale and sweep the arms down while pushing back from the ball just a bit.
  5. Inhale the arms up again, leaning into the ball, and repeat for 3-5 reps, matching your movements with your breath.

Side Child's Pose

Side Child's Pose
Paige Waehner

The traditional Child's Pose is one of the most relaxing yoga poses, allowing you to rest and fully relax your body. This version involves taking the arms to the side, which gives you an excellent stretch in your lats and down into your waist and hips.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees and sit back on the heels, walking the hands forward and stretching the arms out.
  2. If you need to, spread your knees wide for a more comfortable position.
  3. Relax the head onto the floor and focus on releasing any tension in the body.
  4. Keeping the arms straight, walk the hands to the right, feeling a stretch down the left side. Hold for a few breaths.
  5. Walk the hands to the left, feeling a stretch in the right side. Hold for a few breaths.
  6. Repeat as often as you like for a relaxing backstretch.

Knee Drops

Knee Drops
Paige Waehner

Knee drops are perfect for both strengthening the abs while stretching the lower back, glutes, hips, chest, and shoulders. The twisting motion helps you release tension in the back and the weight of the knees allows you to deepen the stretch and get more out of the exercise. Try to keep the opposite shoulder on the floor as you rotate the knees to the floor to get a greater stretch.

  1. Lie down on the floor and bring the knees up over the body, bending them so that the shins are parallel to the floor.
  2. Take the arms out to the sides, palms up.
  3. Contract the abs and rotate the torso to the right to lower the knees to the floor.
  4. Keep the left shoulder flat on the floor and turn the head to look to the left.
  5. As you breathe, release tension in the back and open up through the chest, imagining that you're lengthening your waist.
  6. Hold for about 5 breaths, bring the knees to center and repeat on the other side.
Was this page helpful?