Relax and let gravity release tension in your hips, shoulders and thighs using these clever yoga poses to increase flexibility.
To exist within a gravitational pull, our bodies must develop strong muscles and bones that work to hold us up and keep us moving. Every time you stand up, walk, run, lift weights, or do yoga, you’re using gravity to become stronger without even realizing it!
Yoga asana (physical postures) can help further stretch and strengthen our muscles. When practicing yoga, you can use gravity in your favor to maximize the benefits of each pose.
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These asanas use the force of gravity to your advantage to release tight muscles. You can do this yoga routine daily to relieve tension and increase your flexibility.
9 Yoga Poses to Increase Flexibility
Ragdoll | 8 breaths
This yoga pose uses the pull of gravity on the head and shoulders to release tightness in the hips, hamstrings, and lower back.
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width distance apart. Bring your palms to heart center and engage your abs. Bring a big bend into the knees.
- On an exhale, fold forward at the hips, keeping a flat back. Bend your knees deep enough to rest your torso on your thighs to release your lower back.
- Grab opposite elbows and let your head hang heavy. Allow your weight to shift towards your toes slightly, using gravity to deepen the stretch through your hamstrings.
- Slowly sway side-to-side as you hold for eight breaths.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose | 8 breaths
Reclining bound angle pose, or Supta Baddha Konasana, uses the gravitational pull on the outer thighs and knees to open up the inner hips and thighs.
- Lie on your back and bring the soles of your feet to touch.
- Exhale, and allow your knees to fall out wide. If your hips are tight, slide a yoga block or pillow underneath each thigh for support.
- Extend your arms down alongside your body with your palms facing up.
- Close your eyes and hold for eight breaths.
Runner’s Lunge | 8 breaths per side
Runner’s lunge uses gravity to pull down on the pelvis and thighs to release the hip flexors.
- Start in a tabletop position.
- Step your right foot up outside of your right hand. Then, heel-toe the right foot forward and slightly outward so that your right ankle is slightly in front of your knee. Turn your toes to point out at a 45-degree angle.
- Lift your chest up and engage your abs. Slightly tilt your chin downward to keep the back of your neck long.
- Hold for eight breaths, then switch sides.
Down Dog | 8 breaths
This classic yoga pose strengthens the shoulders and arms as you press the ground away. Gravity also pulls down the heels to stretch the calves and hamstrings.
- Start in a pushup position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
- Inhale, then exhale as you lift your hips up towards the ceiling to make a V-shape with your body.
- Roll your shoulders out so that your biceps slightly roll forward. Pull your lower belly up and in so that your core is engaged, and lift your tailbone towards the ceiling. Keep a straight spine, bending your knees a little if you feel your back rounding.
- Hold here for eight breaths.
Cobra | 5 breaths
The weight of your torso helps to open the chest and shoulders in this pose, increasing mobility in your spine.
- Lie face down on your mat with your toes untucked. Keep your neck long.
- Place your palms on the mat next to your ribs and press the tops of your feet firmly into your mat.
- Inhale to press into your palms, lifting your forehead, chest, and upper belly off the mat. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and down.
- Hold for five breaths, then release on an exhale.
Pigeon | 8 breaths per side
Gravity pulls on the thighs and pelvis in this pose to open up the outer hips and glutes.
- Start in downward-facing dog.
- Lift your right leg up and back, then bring your shin towards the top of the mat. Let your right knee rest behind your right wrist, and flex the foot to protect your knee joint.
- Lower your left knee to the ground and straighten the leg back behind you, pointing your toes back. Engage your abs and stay up on your palms, or lower to your forearms to deepen the stretch.
- Hold for eight breaths, then return to downward-facing dog and switch legs.
Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose | 5 breaths
Use a strap to help gravity open up the hamstrings, inner thighs, and inner hip muscles.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.
- Hug your right knee into your chest and loop the strap around your foot. Hold each end of the strap in your hands and straighten your right leg towards the sky. Straighten your left leg down your mat and flex both feet.
- Take both ends of the strap into your right hand and place your left hand on top of your left hip bone.
- On an exhale, slowly open your right leg out to the right side. You should feel a stretch through your hamstrings, inner thigh and hip. Keep your left shoulder and hip down the entire time.
- Hold for five breaths, then switch sides.
Supine Twist | 8 breaths per side
This pose uses gravity to pull on the inner thighs, increasing flexibility along the spine and opening the chest and shoulders.
- Lie on your back with your legs long.
- Hug your right knee into your chest, interlacing your fingers around the top of your shin. Take a deep breath in, then exhale to guide your right thigh across your body to come into a twist.
- Straighten your right arm out to the right and keep the shoulder close to the ground. You can place your left hand on your outer right thigh to deepen the twist. Look straight up or turn your head to look over your right shoulder.
- Close your eyes and hold for eight breaths, then switch sides.
Savasana | 10 breaths
Our bodies have to work hard to stay upright, move, and function. Savasana is the ultimate surrender to gravity’s force. On this pose, we release all of the muscles that we habitually tense and allow gravity to hold us flat against the earth.
- Lie comfortably on your back with your palms facing up. Bring your feet mat-width distance apart and allow your toes to fall open.
- Relax your face and all the muscles of your body. Take 10 slow breaths here, completely relaxing and letting go.
(Your Next Workout: 7 Yoga Poses to Build Spine Strength and Flexibility)