Yoga has a long list of benefits, which might explain why it has boomed in popularity over the last decade. It has mental health benefits, fitness-enhancing qualities and is also praised for how well it improves flexibility.


With this improved flexibility comes a number of benefits - not just impressing people with new poses. With a consistent approach, you can soon find yourself stretchier, less injury prone and able to get in positions which would have previously made your muscles scream.

That’s why we’ve created this guide to the best yoga poses for flexibility. With the help of two yoga teachers, we explain which poses are best for increasing your flexibility and why being flexible actually matters. After this guide, you’ll have the ammunition to start on your road to flexibility enlightenment and maybe even the splits!

Our yoga experts

Eloise Skinner and Laura Seddon
Our yoga experts, Eloise Skinner and Laura Seddon

To help explain the best yoga poses for flexibility, we’ve got assistance from two yoga teachers. They have both shared with us some postures to increase flexibility and explained why it is important to try and maximise your body’s stretchiness.

Our first expert is author and yoga teacher Eloise Skinner. Eloise has a breadth of experience teaching yoga as well as experience in pilates, ballet, meditation, and mindfulness. As well as being a successful yoga teacher Eloise has given a TEDx Talk and spoken publicly on multiple occasions about yoga, meaning, purpose, and well-being.

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Our second expert is Laura Seddon, who is one of the four founders of Udaya Wellness. She helps the team weave together the divine energies of yoga, spirituality and holistic wellness to create a sacred space for self-exploration and transformation. Laura is a seasoned yoga teacher and mindfulness expert who guides yogis on an inward journey through her classes.

The best yoga poses for flexibility

All yoga is great for improving flexibility, but to guide your training, our experts Eloise and Laura have shared their eight best yoga poses for flexibility.

They range in difficulty, and if you have never tried yoga before, it might be worth checking out our guide to easy yoga poses for beginners before taking these on. Here are both yoga teachers' favourite poses for flexibility and how to perform them:

Seated forward-fold

Woman stretching, doing seated forward bend on a table.

Eloise and Laura both praised the forward fold, with Laura explaining it is good for: “stretching the whole back of the body and increasing circulation to the pelvic organs.” Here’s how to do it:

  1. Sit on the ground with outstretched legs.
  2. Reach up towards the ceiling with your hands and then forward as if you were trying to extend your spine gently.
  3. Fold forwards over your legs, breathing deeply into your hamstrings.
  4. Push forward towards your feet.
  5. If you feel any pain, always come straight out of the position.

Butterfly pose

Home workout. Sporty young Arab guy stretching on mat in living room, practicing yoga, full length. Handsome Eastern man doing flexibility exercises, keeping fit and healthy during covid lockdown

Eloise suggested the Butterfly pose and explained that it is a seated yoga posture that stretches the hips, inner thighs, and groin area. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you.
  2. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to open out to the sides close to your pelvis.
  3. Use your hands to hold onto your ankles or feet, gently pulling them closer to your pelvis, you can also rest your hands on the floor behind you for support.
  4. Sit tall and lengthen your spine, engaging your core muscles.
  5. Allow your knees to relax and gently drop towards the ground.
  6. Stay in this pose for several breaths, allowing your hips and inner thighs to release and relax gradually.
  7. If it feels comfortable, you can gently flap your knees up and down, resembling a butterfly's wings.

Child pose

Shot of a fit young woman doing yoga at home

Laura explains that child pose is one of the foundations of yoga and is a great first position to master. It helps stretch the back, shoulders and quads. She explains how to do it:

  1. Kneel on the floor with your toes together and your knees hip-width apart.
  2. Rest your palms on top of your thighs.
  3. On an exhale, lower your torso between your knees.
  4. Lengthen your arms out in front of you, walking your fingers away from the body with your palms facing down.
  5. Relax your shoulders toward the ground. Rest in the pose for as long as needed.

Warrior 3

Pregnant woman doing warrior III yoga pose at home, Cute pregnant woman doing virabhadrasana yoga in her living room

Laura also said the Warrior 3 pose is great for improving flexibility in the feet, legs, and ankles. It is also a good pose to improve focus. To do the Warrior 3, you will need to know how to do the Mountain Pose, you can see how to do this in our best yoga poses for beginners. Here’s how to the Warrior 3:

  1. Begin by standing in Mountain Pose with your feet hip-width apart and arms relaxed by your sides.
  2. Shift your weight onto your right foot and find your balance.
  3. On an inhale, start to lift your left leg straight back behind you, extending it parallel to the floor.
  4. Simultaneously, hinge forward at the hips, bringing your torso parallel to the floor.
  5. As you fold forward, engage your core muscles to maintain stability and prevent your lower back from rounding.
  6. Extend your arms straight forward in line with your shoulders, palms facing each other.
  7. Keep your hips squared towards the ground and your standing leg (right leg) strong and stable. Engage your thigh muscles to help maintain the lift in your extended leg.
  8. Maintain a straight line from the crown of your head to your extended heel, creating a long and extended body position.
  9. To release the pose, slowly lower your extended leg back down to the floor, coming back to a standing position in Mountain Pose.

Yogi squat

Young adult woman practicing yoga in garland position. They are meditating.

Another of Laura’s favourite poses for flexibility is the yogi squat. This helps to stretch the thighs, groin, ankles and feet. It also comes with the benefit of improving balance as well. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stand in a natural position with your feet about hip-width apart, turned out slightly.
  2. Bend your knees as you lower your butt toward your mat to come into a squat.
  3. Try to resist the initial urge to lift your heels from the floor — but if they have to lift, that’s OK.
  4. Open your thighs wide enough for your torso to come between them and lengthen your spine.
  5. Bring your hands together at your heart in a prayer position, propping your thighs open with your elbows.
  6. Push your elbows against your thighs to increase the stretch.

Extended triangle pose

asian man practicing yoga in a yoga studio-triangle position

Another pose which increases flexibility is the extended triangle pose. It stretches the hips, hamstrings, and side body. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Start in a wide-legged stance, with your feet about 3-4 feet apart.
  2. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and align your right heel with the arch of your left foot.
  3. Extend your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor.
  4. Hinge at the right hip and reach your right hand down towards your right shin or ankle while extending your left arm up towards the ceiling.
  5. Keep your torso open and elongate both sides of your body, creating a straight line from your left hand to your left foot.
  6. Hold the pose, focus on deepening the stretch and maintaining a steady breath, and then repeat on the other side.

Recline twist pose

Spinal twist. Five young sport women are stretching in modern studio on purple mats. Freedom, calmness, harmony and relax, women happiness concept

Laura recommended the reclining twist pose because it improves spinal flexibility and also helps stretch the upper back, lower back, knee and neck. Here’s how to do it:

  1. To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Let your arms rest out to the side in line with your shoulders, palms facing up.
  3. On an inhale, draw both knees to your chest.
  4. Exhale, dropping your knees over to the right side of your body.
  5. Turn your head to the left.
  6. Keep your shoulder blades pressing toward the floor and away from your ears.
  7. Allow the force of gravity to drop your knee even closer to the floor.

Thread the needle pose

Young sporty woman practicing yoga, doing thread the needle exercise, spine bend pose, working out, wearing sportswear, black pants and top, indoor full length, gray wall in yoga studio, side view

This pose is perfect for increasing flexibility in the shoulders and upper back. It is great if you want to have a more flexible upper body. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Begin on all fours in a tabletop position, with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Inhale and lift your right arm towards the ceiling, opening your chest and extending your arm as high as comfortable.
  3. Exhale and thread your right arm under your left arm, sliding it along the mat until your right shoulder and temple rest on the floor.
  4. Extend your left arm forward and lower your left palm to the mat, or if it feels alright, reach around your lower back to deepen the stretch.
  5. Gently press into your left palm to deepen the twist and stretch in the upper back and shoulder.
  6. Hold the pose for several breaths, allowing your body to relax and melt into the stretch.
  7. Repeat the pose on the other side by switching the position of your arms.

What is flexibility?

In its simplest terms, flexibility is the ability of the body to bend, stretch, and move without limitations or discomfort. You can define your own flexibility by how easily you can bend and stretch your muscles, tendons, and ligaments into different positions to perform different movements.

Everyone is born with a unique natural level of flexibility which is determined by genes. While you can’t choose your base level of flexibility, luckily, it is a quality which can be developed and improved with regular practice.

How does yoga make you more flexible?

yogi man practices yoga in the living room near the sofa. Sports at home

Our yoga experts, Eloise and Laura, have broken down some of the main ways in which yoga helps increase flexibility:

Stretching and lengthening muscles

All yoga poses include stretching techniques designed to target different muscle groups. Holding these poses and moving through postures helps elongate and lengthen muscles. With consistent practice, tight muscles begin to release and loosen up.

Focus on dynamic and static stretching

Yoga incorporates a mix of dynamic stretches (moving stretches) and static stretches (stretches whilst still). Dynamic stretching warms up and engages muscles through a full range of motion. This prepares the body for deeper stretches during practice. Static stretching involves holding poses for an extended period, allowing the muscles to relax and lengthen.

Strengthening of supporting muscles

Yoga not only focuses on stretching but also on strengthening the muscles that support your joints. Building strength in these areas creates a solid foundation for improved flexibility because strong and stable muscles provide better support. With better support comes better control as you move into deeper stretches.

Increased body awareness

Yoga promotes body awareness, helping you tune in and listen to your body's signals. Through mindful movement and breath control, you learn to recognise areas of tension or resistance in your body. This awareness allows you to target those areas for better flexibility over time.

Gradual progression

Yoga encourages a gradual progression in flexibility. It emphasises the importance of listening to your body and respecting its limitations. You gradually increase your flexibility through consistent practice without forcing or risking injury. Yoga allows you to work at your own pace to your body's unique needs.

What are the benefits of being flexible?

Man practicing handstand in front of wall at home

Why should we be bothered about improving flexibility in the first place? Our experts, Eloise and Laura, helped us outline a few of the main benefits of a more flexible body.

Injury prevention and enhanced performance

Flexible muscles and tendons are less prone to strains and tears. When your body can move without restriction, it helps distribute the stress of movement evenly across your body. This reduces the risk of injuries during physical activities or sports. It also reduces the risk of pulling muscles as they are looser and less tight.

Flexibility also plays a vital role in optimising your performance. It is beneficial for your power and muscle efficiency whilst also having a positive effect on balance and coordination - these are all key for athletic performance levels.

Reduced muscle soreness

Flexibility exercises, such as stretching or yoga, help relieve muscle soreness and stiffness. They increase muscle blood flow, promoting faster recovery after workouts and reducing post-exercise discomfort.

Improved range of motion

Flexibility gives you a wider range of motion in your joints and muscles, allowing you to move more freely and comfortably. This improves your agility and makes everyday activities easier, from reaching overhead objects to bending down to tie your shoes.

Better posture and alignment

Eloise says that: “Yoga is great because it provides an enhanced sense of alignment and posture.” Flexibility contributes to better posture and alignment by reducing muscle imbalances and tension. It helps lengthen tight muscles, improve spinal alignment, and alleviate postural issues that may result from sitting or standing incorrectly.

Mental health benefits

Eloise says: “Mentally, yoga and the flexibility that comes with it can help you to feel calmer, more grounded, more embodied and connected to the self. For those struggling with anxiety, insomnia or stress, yoga and meditation practices can help ease some of these symptoms.”

This works because flexibility-focused activities, such as yoga or gentle stretching, encourage relaxation and help alleviate stress. They stimulate the nervous system to trigger a relaxation response and promote a sense of calm and well-being. Flexibility training can be a valuable component of stress management and self-care practices.


If you want to learn more about yoga and read expert led guides and reviews then head to The Recommended's fitness section exercise. Here you can read about the best yoga poses for flexibility, best yoga mats, and the best fitness gifts for exercise enthusiasts.


Finn ByrneEcommerce Writer

Finn Byrne is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media. He works across several brands including The Recommended,, MadeforMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. Finn has previously written for publications including MyLondon, The Mirror, The Express, and The Star. When not writing Finn enjoys spending time on the football pitch and getting stuck into a book.