“It takes time for a stretch to significantly change the resting length of soft tissues like muscle and fascia,” says Ariel Kiley, a therapeutic yoga teacher and group fitness instructor at Equinox SoHo in New York City. To increase flexibility, research suggests holding a stretch for one minute (on each side, when applicable), twice every day. Use that rule of thumb for the first three in this list. For the last two, continuously do the moves for one minute rather than hold a static stretch.
Lie on right side with head supported by a foam pad or roller. Take right hand and grab left knee, bringing it close to your body. Grab toes of right leg behind back with left hand, using a towel or strap if necessary. Inhale into belly, and on the exhale rotate toward left hand. Cycle through this progression a couple of times until shoulder is in contact with the ground. If it’s too difficult to get shoulder down, elevate flexed leg with towels. Switch sides and repeat.
Place a folded blanket over a yoga mat and sit with knees together, legs bent, and feet pointed and resting to the sides of hips. Place a bolster lengthwise behind you, then lean back, lying down on bolster. Straighten arms on the ground above head.
Place hands on floor on either side of right leg, then shift hips back and straighten right leg, foot flexed, keeping back as flat as possible. Switch sides and repeat.
Take a half-kneeling position with left knee down, right foot forward, both knees at a 90-degree angle. Place a kettlebell on the outside of the right leg to use as an anchor. Grab on to the bell with the right hand and reach up and over to the side with the left arm, then return to start. Repeat, holding the side stretch for 1 to 3 deep breaths each time, and using the kettlebell to deepen your range of motion with every rep. Switch sides and repeat.
Stand tall with your arms at your side, palms facing toward you, hands in fists. Slowly raise your arms into a V shape, opening up the chest and pressing shoulder blades toward each other. Take 3 deep breaths, then return to start, rounding back slightly.