The covers of yoga magazines or photos of influencers online showcase often showcase yogis with admirable mobility. Seeing a yogi in a full split or full dancer pose is impressive, but may also make you feel that yoga isn’t for you if you are inflexible. In actuality, yoga is beneficial for people with limited mobility.
There are many yoga poses that can be modified for limited mobility. This may include an adjustment in the position of the pose or the use of props such as blocks or straps. These modifications can help get you into a gentle stretch and eliminate the worry that yoga isn’t right for you.
Check out the following poses to improve your mobility:
Tadasana — Mountain Pose
Everyone can benefit from this posture strengthener. This pose doesn’t require any props and for those with limited mobility, it is a great way to build leg, core, and upper back strength.
Begin standing at the top of your mat. Place your feet hip-width apart and parallel to the edges of your mat. Find an upright posture with your shoulders aligned on top of your hips. Relax your arms by your side with your palms facing forward. Gaze straight forward.
Hug your inner thighs together and engage your quadriceps. Draw your navel towards your spine, feeling your abdomen engage. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and lightly squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Eka Pada Tadasana- Single Leg Mountain
This is a great pose for students with limited mobility to practice their balance. If balance is a challenge, practice this pose near a wall or a sturdy chair.
Begin standing at the top of your mat as you did in Tadasana above. Pull your right knee to your chest and balance on your left side. If this feels too challenging use a handhold assist or rest your right tiptoes on the mat.
Hold for 5 breaths, then repeat on your other side.
Parsva Urdhva Hastasana — Steeple Pose With a Strap
This variation of a traditional steeple pose makes steeple pose more accessible for those with limited shoulder mobility. If you don’t have a strap, try using a rolled towel or a belt.
Stand at the top of your mat with your feet together. Hold onto your strap with your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Stand upright and engage your abdomen.
Reach your arms overhead and bend your body to the right. Feel a stretch along your left side. Hold for 5 breaths. Then repeat on your second side.
Supta Padangusthasana- Reclined Big Toe Pose With a Strap
If you have limited mobility in your lower body, this is a great way to stretch your hamstrings. Grab your mat and a strap and lie down to give it a try!
Lie on your back with both knees bent and the soles of your feet on the mat. Loop your strap around the arch of your right foot and hold the ends of the strap in your hands.
Lift your right foot off the mat and press the sole of your foot towards the sky. Keep your knee bent as you get into position, then slowly start straightening your knee stopping when you feel a stretch along the back of your leg.
Keep your shoulders relaxed and hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on your other side.
Uttanasana- Forward Fold Pose
Try this pose out to loosen up your lower back and hamstrings!
Stand at the top of your mat with your feet hip-width apart. Point your feet straight forward so they are parallel with the edges of your mat.
Engage your abdomen and begin bending forward, reaching your hands to the floor. Keep your hips stacked on top of your knees, and your weight distribution equal in your heel and forefoot.
For those feeling limited mobility in this posture, you can try bending your knees to make the stretch more comfortable. You can also place your hands onto blocks or a chair for more support.
Feel a stretch along your lower back and hamstrings, and hold for 5 breaths.
Supta Kapotasana — Reclined Pigeon Pose
Hips can be a challenging body region to stretch if you have limited mobility. Try this pose out to gently stretch your glutes and piriformis.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet placed on the mat. Keep your feet hip-width apart.
Lift your right foot and place your right ankle on your left thigh. Keep your right knee in line with your right hip and try to keep your right shin parallel to the top of your mat. Pull your right toes back towards your shin. You may feel a stretch already!
If you feel like you can move a little deeper into this pose, try interlacing your hands around your left thigh. You can loop a strap to help you reach your leg if needed. Keeping the same shape in your legs, pull your left knee to your chest.
Feel a stretch along the back of your right leg and hip. Hold for 5 breaths then change sides.
Marjaiasana- Bitilasana — Cat-Cow Pose
This gentle movement will mobilize your spine and allows you to move as little or much as is comfortable.
Begin on your hands and knees. Align your shoulders on top of your wrists and your hips on top of your knees. Spread your palms wide and engage your abdomen.
As you inhale, drop the front of your chest and gaze forward for cow pose. As you exhale round the upper back and point the crown of your head towards the ground for cat pose. Feel a gentle stretch between your shoulder blades.
If being on your hands and knees is too challenging, another option is to perform this movement while seated. Continue for 10 rounds of breath.
Salamba Bhujangasana — Sphinx Pose
Sphinx is a gentle backbend that will stretch the front of your chest and extend your spine. It is easily modifiable to accommodate limited mobility.
Begin lying on your stomach. Place your forearms in line with your hips and your shoulders aligned on top of the elbows. Face your palms down on the mat.
Engage your abdomen and slowly begin to lift your chest. Keep your shoulders relaxed away from your ears and your elbows tight by your sides. Focus more on reaching the front of the chest towards the top of the mat vs arching your lower back.
Hold for 5 breaths.
Supta Vrksasana — Reclined Tree Pose
This pose will gently open up your hips. It is performed in a supported position that can easily utilize props for greater comfort.
Begin lying on your back. Straighten your legs and keep your feet in line with your hips. Place the sole of your right foot onto your left calf or inner thigh, depending on your mobility. You can place a blanket or a block under your right knee if you need more support.
Relax your body, gently encouraging the right knee to open up and rest in the direction of your mat. Your hands can rest on your abdomen, or you can use them to help open up your right knee. Avoid letting your left hip elevate away from the mat.
Feel a stretch along your inner right thigh. Hold for 5 breaths then repeat on your second side.
Anuvittasana — Standing Backbend Pose
Backbends can be challenging if you have limited mobility. Here is a gentle way to start improving your range of motion.
Stand at the top of your mat. Place your feet hip-width apart and align the edges of your feet parallel to the mat.
Take your hands behind your back and interlace your fingers. If you cannot reach, use a strap or a towel to make this connection. Begin reaching your interlaced hands behind you so you open up the front of your chest. Keeping the abdomen engaged, begin to arch your upper back as though you are curling it over a ball.
Feel a stretch along the front of the chest and between your shoulder blades. Hold for 5 breaths.
Uttana Shishosana — Puppy Pose
Try this pose to improve the mobility in your shoulders and upper back.
Begin on your hands and knees. Firmly seal your palms onto the mat keeping them shoulder-width apart.
Start walking your knees back, keeping the palms firmly sealed onto the mat. Your arms will be reaching overhead. Once you feel a stretch, keep your arms in this position and align your hips on top of your knees. Relax your head towards the ground, or rest it on a block. Focus on relaxing between your shoulder blades as you feel a stretch in your shoulder and upper back.
Hold puppy pose for 5 breaths.
Garudasana — Eagle Arms with a Strap
The addition of a strap to Eagle pose can make this stretch easier if you have limited mobility. If you don’t have a strap, try a towel or a belt.
Sit in a comfortable position. Place the strap in your right hand, and with the strap reach your right hand behind you as though you were going to touch the back of your neck. The strap should be hanging down your back.
Reach the left hand behind your back as though you were going to touch your lower back. Once there, your left hand should be able to connect with the strap. Now that both hands are touching the strap, you can try to inch your hands closer together by walking them down the strap.
Sit up tall and hold for 5 breaths, then repeat on your second side.
Janu Sirsasana — Single leg Forward Fold With a Strap Pose
For those with limited mobility in their lower body, this seated position is a gentle way to improve your hamstring length. Try using a strap for greater ease.
Begin sitting on your mat. Keep your left leg straight out in front of you, and take the sole of your right foot to your inner left thigh. If this feels uncomfortable, try sitting up on a blanket or place a block under your right knee.
Loop the strap around your left foot and sit up tall. With the ends of the strap in each hand, begin folding forward. Focus on reaching the front of your chest towards your foot as you keep a neutral spine. Feel a gentle stretch along the back of your left leg.
Hold for 5 breaths then repeat on your second side.
Pavanamuktasana — Wind Relieving Pose
Try this gentle hip opener to improve the mobility in your glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
Begin lying on your back. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the mat. Keep your feet in line with your hips.
Pull your right knee to your chest and feel a stretch along the back of your right leg. Keep your abdomen engaged. If you already feel enough of a stretch, hold in this position. If you would to move deeper into this pose, straighten your left leg out and feel a stretch along the left hip flexor.
Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on your second side.
Anjali Mudra — Prayer Pose
This is a gentle way to stretch your wrists and forearms.
Begin in any comfortable seated position. Place your palms together in front of your chest. Lower your wrists down so you work towards a right angle with your wrists. Relax your shoulders, and hold for 5 breaths.
Savasana — Corpse
To relax and restore your body, at the end of your practice take a few minutes to enjoy Savasana.
Lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms resting by your side. Take your legs out wider than hip-width, and place your palms facing up. Close your eyes and with each breath relax your body.
Place a blanket or pillow under your knees for greater comfort. Hold this pose for several minutes.
If you have limited mobility, yoga is an effective way to improve your range of motion. Try including these poses in your daily routine at least three days per week for results!
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A graduate of Arizona State University, Nicole Baker is a force to be reckoned with in the realm of health and wellness. She studied behavioral health, which propelled her desire to live holistically and share her knowledge with other like-minded individuals.