Getting started with Flexibility

So you’re a complete beginner and you want to start to get flexible? Or perhaps you’re already flexible in some aspect but you want to get a good understanding of the basics that you’ll need to progress – there’s no shame going back to the beginning every so often, having a strong foundation is definitely not a bad thing and essential for progression later on.

Foundation skills are important in allowing you to progress and build upon what you already know. They allow you to have a jumping off point so you can just get started without deliberating what you need to do. At the beginning they are your training, and almost more importantly they teach you how to train. Since a lot of more advanced poses and skills are based around the foundations, they are very good building blocks, as well as a point to return to if things are getting stale.

The areas of your body

Upper body

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Back

Lower Body

  • Hips
  • Hamstrings
  • Feet

What working on these areas helps you work towards:

Shoulders

  • Bridge
  • Needle scale
  • Kneeling backbend/Triplefold

Hips

  • Front split
  • Side splits
  • Bridge
  • Leg behind head

Hamstrings

  • Front Split
  • Straddle Split
  • Box Split

If you’re starting from the very beginning, with zero to no pre-existing flexibility – or nothing out of the normal range of motion anyway; I would argue that hips and hamstrings are the way to go. These areas of the body, while having their own challenges are ultimately the best place to start your training off at as they’re fairly easy to train as compared to your back. Plus the gains in flexibility tend to come quicker in these areas, so they’re a good starting point to see some progression start to happen.

Beginner foundation poses:

Pike

Lunge with bent back leg

Straddle

Butterfly

Frog

Kitty stretch

Intermediate foundation poses:

Front split

Box split

Wide straddle

Shoulder extension stretch

Advanced foundation poses:

Bridge

Cobra

Wall-sit stretch

Other good resources for beginners

What should stretching feel like?
http://dev.moveskill.com/2015/03/what-should-stretching-feel-like/

Reddit FAQ
https://www.reddit.com/r/flexibility/comments/2j8sup/dont_know_where_to_start_click_here/

Molding mobility
https://phrakture.github.io/starting-stretching.html

Toe touching routine
http://antranik.org/toe-touching-routine/