We all know Yoga is one of the best ways to increase flexibility apart from other obvious benefits like weight loss and increase in strength.

How often should you do yoga for flexibility?

For increasing flexibility, you may start by doing Yoga 2 to 3 times per week and progressively increasing the frequency. You will start seeing the results by the 4th or 6th week. That said, you may see results even if you start with once yoga session week.

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility

One study done on athletic individuals involved biweekly yoga training for 6 weeks. Various flexibility tests that were done before and after the 6 weeks period showed a significant increase in flexibility for both men and women.

Another study involved biweekly yoga training for a group of young women over a period of 5 months. During this course of the period, various flexibility tests were conducted on them and all the women showed improvement in their flexibility levels each time.

The flexibility of all the people in these studies was measured based on several factors like flexibility in shoulders, hip flexors, ankles, knee flexors, rotation of the spine and many more.

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility

These studies are proof that even 2 to 3 yoga sessions over a period of 6 weeks can improve your flexibility to a great extent.

It is said that the more often you practise yoga, the faster will you reap all its benefits, including flexibility.

But of course, these improvements will vary from person to person based on age, gender, genetics, bone structure, your diet, other forms of exercise that you might be doing, weather, hydration and many other factors.

Hence it is always better to compare your own flexibility levels before and after instead of comparing it with others.

Why is Flexibility Important?

Now a question may arise in your minds that why should you work on your flexibility after all?

  • Being flexible gives you a better posture. This is because your body’s alignment and balance are increased due to an increase in range of motion.
  • If your flexibility is increased, you will encounter lesser pains because your muscles will be less tensed.
  • When you are flexible, there will be the right amount of tension in your muscles and connective tissues and thus you will experience an increase in strength, fewer injuries and higher performance if you are an athlete.
  • And the best of all, you will feel good when you are more flexible as you will experience lesser cramps and aches and you will feel lighter.

How to Measure Flexibility?

That brings me to the point, how to measure flexibility then?

It is really simple. Just see how flexible you are on the first day and eventually, as you progress, you will certainly notice that you are becoming more and more flexible.

For example, if you are a beginner, start by measuring your flexibility using the standing forward bend pose or Utannasana.

Chances are, you will be able to bend only halfway on your first day.

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility

But as you practise it regularly, you will definitely be able to bend more.

But don’t beat yourself up if you don’t see the expected results in a week or two. Be patient and kind to your body and you will notice a difference in a few weeks.

How long to hold yoga poses for increasing flexibility?

Now that we know which yoga poses can help you increase your flexibility, how long should you hold each of these to see actual results?

The most common mistake that beginners make is that they hold the poses for a shorter time and expect a permanent effect on their flexibility. But this is not how it works.

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility

For seeing any permanent change in your flexibility levels, the binding agent in your connective tissues must be changed.

Studies have shown that for changing the structure of this binding agent, we need to hold these at least for 90 to 120 seconds.

Any time less than that, and it will be difficult for you to see permanent changes quickly.

Styles of Yoga that can Increase Flexibility

There are certain styles of yoga that may be more beneficial for you if you are looking to increase your flexibility in a shorter period of time:

Yoga poses for Increasing Flexibility

Almost all yoga poses work on your flexibility, however, a few may help increase it significantly more.

So, here are a few:

1. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility

Uttanasana Steps: 

  • For performing Uttanasana, start from the standing position of Tadasana, exhale and gently bend down from your hip joints
  • Remember to bend from your hips and not from your waist and do not lock your knees
  • Lengthen your torso and try to touch your feet with your palm or fingers
  • Try to take deep breaths in this position and hold it for 90 seconds at least
  • With each inhalation, lengthen your torso and with each exhalation try to bend down more
  • You may repeat this for 2 to 3 times

Uttanasana Easier Variation:

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility
  • For all the beginners who are not that flexible yet, Ardha Uttanasana will be an easier variation where you bend down only halfway
  • Bend down till your torso becomes parallel to the floor and place your hands on your calves

2.Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility

Trikonasana Steps: 

  • To begin with, Trikonasana, start with Virabhadrasana II or Warrior II pose, exhale and gently bend your torso from the hips in such a way that your torso is parallel to your right leg
  • Stretch your right hand and place it on your right calf, ankle or on the floor based on your flexibility
  • Stretch your left arm towards the ceiling in line with the top of your shoulders
  • Take deep breaths and hold it for 90 to 120 seconds.
  • Then inhale and come back to Tadasana. Repeat on both sides.

Trikonasana Easier Variation:

  • For beginners, lessen the bend and place your right hand on your right calf instead of placing it on the floor

3. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility

Adho Mukha Svanasana Steps: 

  • To practice the downward-facing dog pose, start by coming onto the floor on your knees under your hips and placed on the mat and hands apart and placed farther than your shoulders
  • Then gently lift your knees and straighten your leg and try to press your heels on the mat
  • Firm your shoulder blades, straighten your back and pull up your sitting bones so that your body forms a triangle shape
  • Remember not to lock your knees
  • Hold this pose for 90 seconds and repeat for 2 to 3 times

Adho Mukha Svanasana Easier Variation:

  • To make this easier, you may hold this pose for a shorter period of time and progress slowly till you reach a point where you are able to hold it for 90 secs or more.

4.Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose)

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility

Anjaneyasana Steps: 

  • To begin with, start in the downward dog pose described previously. Then exhale and place your right foot in front of you beside your right wrist.
  • Lower your left knee and place it on the floor. Then inhale and lift your torso and hold your hands together above your head.
  • After that, exhale and lower your hips down further till you get a nice stretch
  • Hold this for 90 secs and come back to downward dog pose. Repeat the same on the other side.

Anjaneyasana Easier Variation:

  • For beginners, start by holding the pose as long as possible and then progress towards 90 secs to bring about permanent change in your flexibility levels.

5. Malasana (Garland Pose)

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility

Malasana Steps: 

  • This is a full squat pose where you come down to a full squat position with your knees facing outwards
  • Join your hands together and separate both your legs with your elbows
  • Take deep breaths in this pose and hold for at least 90 secs

Malasana Easier Variation:

  • Malasana may be quite difficult to hold if you haven’t stretched your legs in a while
  • Thus if you feel uncomfortable, then you may fold a blanket and place it under both your heels
  • The higher the elevation of your heels, the easier it will be to hold the pose

6. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility

Paschimottanasana Steps: 

  • Begin with staff pose and gently bend the upper part of your body forward with an inhalation.
  • Place your heels firmly on the floor. Straighten your arms and hold your toes or your calves or you may even place your arms on the floor based on your flexibility.
  • With each inhalation, lengthen your spine and with each exhalation, deepen your bend.
  • Hold this position for 90 secs and repeat this 2 to 3 times.

Paschimottanasana Easier Variation:

If you are beginner, chances are that you won’t be able to bend forward completely. I am with you too. So you may try to make it easier by:

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility
  • For more comfort, sit on a folded blanket
  • You may even loop a strap or any cloth around your feet and use it as a support to bend forwards.

At-Home Yoga Routine to Increase Flexibility

Here is a quick 16-min Yoga routine to kick start your journey towards a more flexible you!

Sources

How Often Should You Do Yoga For Flexibility?

For increasing flexibility, you may start by doing Yoga 2 to 3 times per week and progressively increasing the frequency. You will start seeing the results by the 4th or 6th week. That said, you may see results even if you start with once yoga session week.