Wanna Touch Your Toes? These 7 Poses Will Make It Happen
Whether you haven’t touched your toes since third-grade gymnastics class| or you can’t remember ever being able to bend over that far| 2015 could be the year you effortlessly fold yourself in half. You can’t force your hamstrings and lower back to open up instantly; you need to gradually increase flexibility in these commonly tight areas| and these are the stretches to get you there. If you commit to this stretching sequence several times a week| you will notice a change in the suppleness of your muscles| making you that much closer to your goal.
Not only will increasing your flexibility give you bragging rights to say| “I can touch my toes!””| but it’ll also help prevent injuries if you run| bike| or ski. Make sure you’re warmed up u2014 after a run or three Sun Salutation B’s is perfect u2014 then follow this seven-pose sequence.
| Three-Legged Dog
- Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Step both feet together so your big toes are touching.
- Shift weight into your hands and your left foot equally. Raise your right leg up to the ceiling. Try to keep your shoulders parallel with the ground| and gaze at your left thigh or up toward your belly to help you stay balanced. To feel the stretch in your left hamstring| try to keep pressing your left heel down toward the ground.
- Stay here for five breaths (about 30 seconds)| then lower your right leg down and switch sides.
- Come back to Down Dog.
| Wide-Legged Forward Bend
- From Down Dog| step your right foot forward between your hands| stand up| and turn your right foot to the left so both feet are parallel with three to four feet between your toes. Turn the heels out slightly wider than the toes.
- Standing tall| interlace your hands behind you| pressing the heels of your palms together in a double fist. If this hurts your lower back| just rest your hands on your hips.
- Take a deep breath in| and slowly fold forward at the waist| lowering your hands toward the floor. Don’t worry how far you can bend; just focus on keeping the legs straight to keep the stretch in the backs of the legs.
- Relax the head| and breathe for five breaths.
- From Wide-Legged Forward Bend| come to sit on your mat with both legs together. Place your palms flat on the floor beside your hips| actively pressing them into the ground.
- Keep both arms as straight as possible| and lengthen your spine| imagining it is a sturdy staff or cane someone would use to walk with. Roll your shoulders away from your ears| and tuck your chin. Engage your leg muscles| and flex your feet.
- Stay here for five deep breaths.
- Hold here| or to deepen the stretch in the hamstrings| fold forward as much as you can with both legs straight| walking the hands out. Hold for another five breaths| then sit up.
| Head to Knee
- Bend your right knee| and place the sole of your foot against your left inner thigh| pulling your heel as close to your body as you can.
- Inhale to sit up tall| and exhale as you fold your torso over your left leg. Rest your hands on the floor on either side of your leg| on your shin| or wrap your hands around your left foot.
- Stay here for five breaths| sit up| and repeat this pose on the right side.
| Reclined Hand to Big Toe
- From Head to Knee| lie flat on your back. Lift your right leg into the air. Lift your torso off the mat| and hold onto your big toe with the first two fingers and thumb of your right hand. If you can’t reach your toe| hold your ankle| calf| or behind your thigh. Feel free to use a strap if you prefer.
- Keeping your torso lifted will engage your core| but if you want to enjoy a more relaxing stretch| rest your torso on the floor.
- Hold for five breaths| and then repeat on the left side.
| Seated Straddle
- From Reclined Hand to Big Toe| sit up and separate the legs out into a wide straddle. Reach back with your right hand and move the flesh of your right bum cheek away from you| and then do the same with your left. This will help your pelvis ground more firmly so you can stretch your hamstrings more effectively.
- Sit tall| reaching your head away from your hips| and draw your belly and ribs in. Keep that length as you fold forward at your waist| sliding your hands down your legs or on the floor in front of you.
- Listen to your hamstrings! Go down as far as you need to feel a stretch| but you don’t want to feel pain. Stay for at least five deep breaths.
Source: Jenny Sugar
| Standing Hand to Big Toe Forward Bend
- From Seated Straddle| slowly stand up with the feet hips-width distance apart.
- Fold the torso over the thighs| and hold the big toes with the first two fingers and thumbs of each hand. Pull the elbows out wide. If you can’t reach the toes yet| rest your hands as low as you can on the legs.
- Actively draw the shoulders away from the ears| using the abs to draw the torso closer to the legs rather than using your upper-body strength.
- Shift weight forward into the toes to intensify the stretch in the backs of the legs.
- Stay like this for five deep breaths| nodding the head up and down and side to side to release the neck. Every time you do this pose| see if you can reach a little lower.