Gentle yoga for those who beat up their bodies 12 hours a day
May 11, 2017 7:06 AM   Subscribe

I've spent the last decade running for fitness and working on my feet and I can finally feel it catching up to me. I started a new job and now I work 12 hour shifts and I am so sore. I've been wanting to start a yoga routine but I can barely touch my shins, let alone my toes. I've tried videos before but, for example, I can't do downward dog and I'm not sure how to best attempt it given my limited flexibility. Does anyone know of a youtube video that is a guided yoga routine for inflexible people?
posted by pintapicasso to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I know you asked for videos, but I would really urge you to try an in-person class at least a couple of times if you are new to yoga - especially if you have some specific concerns about your flexibility.

Yoga is extremely adaptable, but it helps to have some guidance, at least at first, from a trained instructor. As I've learned, "flexibility" is not an all-or-nothing condition in most people. For example, my hamstrings are extremely flexible, but my hip flexors are crazy tight. It took some in-person classes with other people to figure out the particulars of my body and determine the best yoga practice.
posted by pantarei70 at 7:13 AM on May 11, 2017 [8 favorites]

A cursory search under "guided yoga videos for people with limited mobility" turned up many results similar to this:

Chair yoga
posted by Amor Bellator at 7:18 AM on May 11, 2017

Thank you. I am an excellent googler but because this is has to do with my health I am specifically looking for either videos people have used, or reputable videos from people who know what they're talking about (like, I know there are a million " yoga for inflexible people" videos on YouTube )
posted by pintapicasso at 7:24 AM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Go to a yoga studio once or twice a week for a month or two. Having a teacher show you how to adapt a pose for your flexibility will allow you to follow almost any youtube yoga video.

After you do your yoga studio stint, go do yoga from youtube for 6 months, and then go back to a yoga studio.

I ran for many years, and have been doing yoga on and off now for a couple of years. Getting your hamstrings more flexible will make all of your body's motions feel better.
posted by gregr at 7:39 AM on May 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

(Oh gosh, pintapicasso, I read your Ask all too literally... mea culpa!! Thank you for the gracious clarification you offered -still cringing and flushed here, your kind patience took the edge off. I have no doubt you could Google circles around me! Again, so sorry. 😊 )
posted by Amor Bellator at 8:03 AM on May 11, 2017

I like the positive but out of old touch vibe of DDP Yoga which is targeted at people who are a little broken and think yoga is totally uncool, but are willing to try it if a macho guy is selling it to them. He's good about adapting the moves for inflexible people, but you have to enjoy the fact that he's a bit of a silly dummy. The biggest annoyance is switching between the different DVDs and keeping track of them.
posted by mattamatic at 8:26 AM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

You might want to try these routines, which I found through Reddit' bodyweight fitness group and which I've found useful:

Starting stretching


Molding Mobility

There are some YouTube tutorials for them. The bodyweight fitness sub is more gymnastics focused than yoga focused, but joint flexibity and strength is a pretty key area for them too.
posted by Diablevert at 8:39 AM on May 11, 2017

Are you wanting to do yoga specifically, or would you be interested in other routines that can increase flexibility?

I really love the T-Tapp basic workout. The instructional segment is very thorough, and once you've gotten the hang of it the routine itself only takes about 15 minutes. And once you have it memorized, you don't even need the video.

I credit it with fixing several joint and flexibility issues I'd been having. It's something of an acquired taste, but it really does a good job. There are a number of segments on You-Tube that you could look at/try to see if you think it would work for you and if Teresa Tapp will annoy you.
posted by Kriesa at 8:46 AM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

As someone who was a runner exclusively for many years and has been pursuing a more expanded exercise routine for about five years, I really recommend signing up for a few sessions with a personal trainer. There will be some things that your body does very well and some things that it does poorly, and a good trainer will evaluate you properly and show you exercises that make up for your deficiencies-including flexibility. Obviously there is a cost, but I did ten sessions with a trainer in 2012 and am still driven by the same philosophy and some of the exercises that I learned from him, to good results.

I also second Dialevert's stretching recommendations.
posted by Kwine at 8:57 AM on May 11, 2017

Check out the beginner back and core workouts at

(But if downward dog is challenging, I sort of think that's a level of inflexibility that suggests it's worth considering in-person assessment by a movement/rehab specialist [kinesiologist, physiotherapist, exercise therapist], or a yoga class explicitly geared to people with related issues and maybe based at a physio/sports med clinic.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:11 AM on May 11, 2017

I have limited flexibility, and I can complete the yoga routine in Yoga for the Rest of Us. It includes downward dog, but you put your hands on a chair seat vs the floor, so it doesn't require as much flexibility.
posted by loop at 9:56 AM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend the videos from Yoga with Adriene (free on YouTube). Instead of specific videos/routines on flexibility and mobility, she builds body awareness and appropriate modifications into every video.

I started her videos close to two years ago, never having done yoga before and, like you, really inflexible. I couldn't touch my toes (still can't, without bending my knees, but I'm way closer!) and couldn't do downward dog (still can't do it "perfectly" with heels flat on the floor, but I'm way closer!). Adriene likes to say "focus on the sensation over the shape" - so instead of trying to hit a perfect Pinterest-style downward dog, or any other pose, modify so you're feeling the same sensations, like a nice stretch in the backs of the legs, the shoulders, and the chest. That might mean puppy posture instead of downward dog, or downward dog with your knees bent, or (as I did for months) tabletop position instead of downward dog. It's all okay!

I also completely vouch for her ability to teach body awareness/modifications without being in the same room as you. After a few months of doing her videos, I went to a local power yoga class, introduced myself to the instructor, and explained I was somewhat new at this but game for trying. The instructor looked worried and said she'd try to keep an eye on me/help me modify. After class, she came up to me, seemed genuinely impressed, and said I'd done an amazing job of modifying appropriately where I needed to without her needing to help me. Yoga with Adriene, yo!

I have a few suggestions for where you might want to start:
* A Little Goes a Long Way (short, sweet, great intro to the concepts of sensation over shape and listening to your body/modifying)
* 10-Minute Yoga for Self Care (general awesomeness, especially after a long day)
* Yoga for Tired Legs (sounds right up your alley)
* 7-Minute Yoga for Runners (likewise)
* Yoga for the Feet (prepare to mellllllltttttt)
* Yoga for the Service Industry (super yummy and self-care focused, even if you don't work in the service industry)
* Gentle Yoga (basic 25-minute practice out in a park that gets you stretching all over and feeling good)

I've mentioned this on AskMe before, but I have no relationship with Adriene or her business other than being a mega-fan - she got me from years of chronic neck/back pain to living pain free, so I'm sold!

Good luck to you!
posted by bananacabana at 11:41 AM on May 11, 2017 [7 favorites]

I am not a yoga person, because like you I am super inflexible. I've tried picking it up every few years and always end up deciding that I don't enjoy it and am unclear on the benefits for me.

That said, the last class I tried was a style called Iyengar Yoga, which uses a lot of props (bolsters, cork blocks, fabric straps) to make poses accessible for people who can't get into the full pose easily, and it was the closest I've ever felt to believing that I was actually doing poses in a meaningful way, rather than just straining in a completely wrong position. You might use the term Iyengar, and the use of props, as a way to narrow down videos and see if that gets you something useful.
posted by LizardBreath at 2:06 PM on May 11, 2017

I go to a class here in Indy literally called Gentle Yoga that I started attending weekly after I had my first back spasm. We do a ton of stretching and it's each to their own ability. I don't have much experience with the different types of yoga, but the class description mentions viniyoga, so term may be helpful to your search. Good luck!
posted by meindee at 2:37 PM on May 11, 2017

1. do see a teacher at least for a couple of classes, they will show you how to adapt the poses best to your ability (and it's a myth you need to be flexible to do yoga!)
2. have a look at J.Brown's work, gentle is the new advanced - he has some nice routines
posted by coffee_monster at 3:10 AM on May 12, 2017

I know this isn't entirely answering your question so I will accept a 'this comment is super unhelpful' flag with humility, but as a nurse who works 12s, a runner, and someone with an established yoga practice, I can't stop myself from saying that you're asking for an injury if you try to start a yoga practice just by watching videos.

Even just a few in-person classes with a good instructor will provide you with the kinds of hands-on adjustments that prevent injury. Like others above, I also recommend an Iyengar practice--the slower pace and focus on correct alignment will help you really understand where your body is supposed to be in the pose and get you to a point where you can transition to following along with videos at home.

The instructor will likely be able to recommend specific videos with your body's unique configuration in mind.
posted by jesourie at 3:46 PM on May 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

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