A 20-Minute Yoga Flow for Better Mobility — No Equipment Needed

This 20-minute yoga flow improves mobility in your shoulders, hips and spine.
Image Credit: Stígur Már Karlsson /Heimsmyndir/E+/GettyImages

It will come as no surprise to hear that many of the most commonly taught yoga poses require lots of flexibility — sometimes even more than we realize!

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It's hard not to notice the stretching sensations in our muscles when we're in a pose, but it's less likely we'll notice another key component at play as we move: the mobility of our joints.

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Mobility refers to the range of motion in our joints that measures how far and in which direction our joints can move without pain or restriction. It's easily overlooked when things are going fine, but if you've ever struggled to raise your arms overhead without feeling shoulder tension or had a hard time bending your ankles in downward dog, chances are you've noticed a lack of range of motion, or mobility, in your joints.

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Having a healthy range of motion means your joints are strong and supple, so they can provide the stability and flexibility necessary to move with confidence and ease — both on the mat and during your everyday life.

Mobility is influenced by our lifestyle, postural habits, injuries and even our unique skeletal structure. At some point, we'll all experience limited range of motion, especially as we age. But the good news is that a yoga practice can help restore healthy mobility through active and purposeful movement.

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How to Do This Yoga Flow

This 20-minute yoga flow takes you through six popular yoga poses that serve as a foundation to improve mobility in your shoulders, hips and spine. Try it before a workout for a whole-body warm-up or before and after a long work day to counteract pesky tech neck.

Always remember to listen to your body and stop if you feel pain or extreme discomfort.

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​Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here ​— we’ve got something for everyone.

1. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana) With Scapula Push-Up

Activity Yoga
Goal Improve Flexibility and Prevent Injury
  1. Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over knees.
  2. Without moving your lower back or pelvis and keeping your arms straight, drop your ribs and chest toward the ground and pinch your shoulder blades together at the top.
  3. Draw your spine toward the ceiling while pulling your shoulder blades down and back.
  4. Repeat the scapular push-up 3 times.
  5. Then, move into the full cat-cow pose by rounding your back upward, pulling your bellybutton toward your spine and tucking your chin toward your chest. Exhale on the arch, inhale on the flexion.
  6. Next, drop your belly to the floor as you arch your back and lift your shoulders and chin upward into full spinal flexion.
  7. Then, reverse the motion.
  8. Repeat cat-cow pose 3 to 5 times.

2. Thread the Needle With Arm Pulse

Activity Yoga
Goal Improve Flexibility and Prevent Injury
  1. Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over knees.
  2. As you exhale, raise your right arm up toward the ceiling and look up at your fingertips.
  3. Pulse your right hand backward 3 to 5 times, then "thread” your right arm under your chest until your right shoulder rests on the mat with your palm facing up.
  4. Make sure your head is turned to the left so that the right side of your face is resting on the mat.
  5. Keep your hips up and centered over your knees throughout the stretch.
  6. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
  7. Repeat on each side 3 times for a total of 6 reps.

3. Alternating Side Lunge Pose (Skandasana)

Activity Yoga
Goal Improve Flexibility and Prevent Injury
  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed forward. (If the position feels uncomfortable, move your feet in a little closer).
  2. Clasp your hands together at your chest (or place them on your hips if that's more comfortable).
  3. Inhale as you bend your right knee, sit your right hip back and extend your chest forward. Be mindful not to round and put pressure on your lower back.
  4. If you feel like you can, lower your right hip down toward your right heel with control and turn the toes of your left foot up to increase the inner-thigh stretch.
  5. As you exhale, press down powerfully into your right foot to stand back up.
  6. Inhale as you bend into your left knee to switch sides.
  7. Repeat this 3 to 5 times on each side.

4. Squat Pose (Malasana) With Twist

Activity Yoga
Goal Improve Flexibility and Prevent Injury
  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. (If the position feels uncomfortable, move your feet in a little closer).
  2. Push your hips back and lower into a squat, bending at your knees.
  3. Tuck your pelvis and squat as low to the ground as possible, keeping your feet rooted into the ground.
  4. Place your hands out in front of you on the floor for support with your arms straight.
  5. Inhale to elongate your spine and exhale to twist your right arm out to the side and over your head.
  6. Press your left arm against your inner left knee to create a little bit of resistance to deepen the twist and stabilize yourself in the pose.
  7. Inhale as you lower your right arm and exhale to twist to the left side.
  8. Repeat each side 3 times for a total of 6 reps.

5. Deer Pose (Mrigasana)

Activity Yoga
Goal Improve Flexibility and Prevent Injury
  1. Sit on the floor and take a deep breath, making your torso tall and proud.
  2. Bring your right leg in front so your thigh is straight out from your waist, with your thigh turned so the outside of your thigh is on the floor. Your knee should be bent at 90 degrees and the outside of your shin, ankle and foot should also be on the floor. Keep your ankle in a neutral position so that your toes point directly forward.
  3. Maintaining a vertical torso and keeping your right leg in this position, bring your left leg out so that your thigh is pointing at a 90-degree angle away from your torso, and the inside of your thigh, shin and foot are on the floor. The knee of this leg should also be bent 90 degrees and your ankle should be in a neutral position.
  4. Keep your back straight and try to sit into both of your hips equally. Place your hands on your hips. If it’s hard to keep your torso up straight, place a block under your outside hand.
  5. As you inhale, rotate your upper body toward your right leg, press down into the outer foot and hinge forward from the right hip crease to bend forward.
  6. Exhale to slowly return your torso back to the starting position with control.
  7. Repeat this 3 to 5 times, then switch sides and repeat.

6. Child’s Pose (Balasana) With Shoulder Rotation

Activity Yoga
Goal Improve Flexibility and Prevent Injury
  1. Come down onto your hands and knees.
  2. Spread your knees wide while bringing your big toes to touch.
  3. Sink your sit bones down toward your heels.
  4. Extend your arms in front of you while allowing your forehead to rest on your mat.
  5. Lift your right arm up with your palm facing down and lightly touch the back of your head with your right hand without dropping your right elbow.
  6. Sweep your right hand out in front of you again and slowly stretch it out to the side; as you do so, gradually turn your palm up and reach all the way back behind you to tap your lower back with the back of your right hand.
  7. Slowly travel back to where you started by reversing your hand and arm movements. Repeat this 3 more times.
  8. Do another set of three with a small addition: When the back of your hand meets your lower back, twist your chest open and point your elbow straight up to work deeper into the shoulder joint. Switch sides and repeat both movements 3 times each.

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