6 People You Get In Every Yoga Class

1. The super-flexible yoga show-off:

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She skips the warm-up moves and bends straight into a pose that looks really fucking uncomfortable. When everybody else is groaning and struggling, she asks in a “polite” loud whisper if she can please move into full bhujangasana now?

2. The one who can’t do any of the moves:

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At the other end of the spectrum is the person whose inflexible body is actually hewn from the trunk of an old tree. They can barely touch their knees, let alone their toes, and their downward dog looks more like a dog crouching for a wee. The whole thing is very embarrassing for them and they probably won’t come back next week, despite having optimistically paid £66 in advance for eight classes.

3. The token man:

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If the worst you have to suffer is a whiff of his luscious armpit hair, you’re lucky. Worst-case scenario is an accidental eyeful when his baggy shorts slip to one side during the lotus position.

4.The much older lady putting everyone else to shame:

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When you first arrive in class you’re pleased to see her – wrinkly, grey-haired, she’ll slow the class down and take the heat off you. In the end, she just makes you feel much, much more depressed about being in your late twenties and barely able to bend over without breaking a massive sweat.

5. The heavy breather:

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The class raise their hands as one, then gently roll forward into uttanasana. Everyone breathes slowly, deeply, and quietly, except ONE PERSON who sounds like they’re having sex. At least it covers up the sound of any accidental farts.

6.The injured person:

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She’s rehabilitating after a terrible desk-related neck strain, but isn’t actually able to do any of the moves at this point. She annoyingly occupies about 75% of the teacher’s time and loudly complains that she can’t do that because it’ll hurt.

5 Beginner Poses for a Strong Core

A strong core is important for maintaining a safe yoga practice. Having a strong core helps keep your lower back safe in poses (especially backbends), makes holding your body weight in arms balances easier, and aids in ensuring that you’re maintain correct form in poses. In this post, there are 5 beginner yoga poses for a strong core.

To practice these beginner yoga poses for a strong core, hold each pose for 3 to 5 breaths, and work your way up to holding them for longer periods.

Half Boat Pose

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How To: Begin by seating with your legs bent, feet on your mat hip distance apart. On an inhale, engage your core and shift your weight backwards to your sit bones while lifting your feet off the mat. Keep your abdominal muscles drawing in towards your spine, and your chest lifting up towards the ceiling. Reach your arms straight out in front of you, and strongly towards your toes. Your thighs should be at a 45 degree angle from the mat, and your legs parallel to the mat. Keep your legs engaged by flexing your toes back towards your body. To come out, slowly lower your legs to the mat.

Benefits: Strengthens the core and quadriceps muscles.

Dolphin Plank Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, shift your weight forward, lower your forearms to the mat, and drop your hips to bring your whole body into a straight line with your shoulders stacked directly above your elbows. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up towards your spine. Reach the back of your thighs up towards the ceiling, while pressing your tailbone down towards the mat; this action helps to activate the core. Ensure that your hips aren’t too high up, or too low, but instead in line with your whole body. Keep your neck in line with your spine by focusing your gaze a few inches in front of you on the mat. To come out, gently lower your knees to the mat.

Benefits: Strengthens the core, arms, and leg muscles.

High Plank Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, shift your weight forward and bring your body into a straight line with your shoulders stacked directly above your wrists. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up towards your spine. Reach the back of your thighs up towards the ceiling, while pressing your tailbone down towards the mat; this action helps to activate the core. Ensure that your hips aren’t too high up, or too low, but instead in line with your whole body. Keep your neck in line with your spine by focusing your gaze a few inches in front of you on the mat. To come out, gently lower your knees to the mat.

Benefits: Strengthens the whole body.

Knee to Nose Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, extend your right leg back, while keeping both hips facing the mat. On your exhale shift forward into a plank position, and pull your right knee in towards your chest. On that same breath, round your back, push the mat strongly away and tuck your chin in to bring your nose towards your knee. Remember to keep your abdominal muscles drawing strongly in towards your spine. To come out, drop your leg back into downward facing dog, and then lower your knees to the mat. Don’t forget to do the left side!

Benefits: Strengthens the core, wrists, arms, glutes, and legs.

Knee to Forearm Pose

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How To: Begin in downward facing dog pose. On an inhale, extend your right leg back, while keeping both hips facing the mat. On your exhale shift forward into a plank position, and pull your right knee to the outside of your arm, and up on your forearm. Keep your abdominal muscles drawing strongly in towards your spine, and your leg close to your thigh.  To come out, drop your leg back into downward facing dog, and then lower your knees to the mat. Practice on the other side.

Benefits: Strengthens the core, shoulders, wrist, hips and glutes.

6 Yoga Poses For Stress Relief

If you’ve ever been stressed out, you know that stress can accumulate and manifest itself physically. But most often it originates in the mind. In society, the to-do lists can feel never ending, leaving very little time for self-care. It’s imperative to set aside some time every day to focus on your own health and well-being. This will help you reduce stress, prevent sickness and disease and help slow down the aging process. Try these 6 yoga poses — each one simple enough that anyone can do them — and, with time, you will see your flexibility improve, your stress levels reduce and notice a refreshing feeling of well-being and inner peace.

1. Mountain Pose

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Even though this pose looks like one of the simplest, it can be one of the most difficult to really perfect. HOW TO DO IT: Stand up straight with your feet planted firmly and evenly on the floor. Make sure that your knees stack over your ankles but aren’t locked straight. Engage your glutes and maintain a neutral pelvis. Brace your core muscles and bring your shoulders back and down. Keep your hands at your side with palms facing out or bring them to your heart center. Close your eyes and remain here for five to 10 breaths.

2. Forward Fold

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This pose is a partial inversion, reversing the blood flow and releasing the lower back, hamstrings and spine. HOW TO DO IT: Start standing, then fold forward and reach for your toes, ankles or, if you have severe tightness, your thighs or knees. The key is to relax into it. Lengthen from the lower back and allow the crown of your head to hang down toward the floor with your neck totally relaxed. Breathe deeply as you draw your torso closer to your legs. Stay for five to 10 breaths to start, and notice how your flexibility improves with each breath.

3. Extended Pigeon

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This seated hip stretch is wonderful for people who sit at a desk all day or spend hours in a car: It opens the front hip and back hip extensors and strengthens the core and lower back. If your back is not strong enough to stay extended for more than a breath or two, don’t worry. You’ll become stronger and more flexible with practice. HOW TO DO IT: Start seated with one knee bent in front of you and the other leg extended behind you. If necessary, use a block under the bent-leg hip to elevate the hips. This will alleviate some of the pressure and make balancing easier until your flexibility improves. Lengthen from the lower back and use the strength of your core to lengthen your spine toward the ceiling. Try holding for five to 10 breaths on each side and increase the duration as you gain strength, endurance and flexibility. Be sure to repeat on both legs.

4. Cobra

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This fundamental yoga pose is a wonderful spinal stretch that opens the front of the body and strengthens the muscles along the spine. HOW TO DO IT: Start on your belly. Place both palms under your shoulders, fingers spread wide, pelvis rooted into the mat. Pressing evenly into both palms, lift the chest up and draw the shoulder blades together behind your back. Allow your shoulders to drop down away from your ears to create space between your ears and shoulders. Lift your heart and look forward or slightly up. Take a few breaths and lower slowly back down.

5. Half Happy Baby

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As you complete this series, it’s nice and relaxing to end in the supine position (lying on your back). This leads toward your final relaxation pose, also known as Savasana, and releases the hips one last time in a different variation. HOW TO DO IT: Starting on your back, bend your right knee and bring it toward the floor on the right side of your body. Grab your foot and use your arms to pull it down toward the floor while keeping the foot flat and facing the sky. If your hip is too tight to reach the foot, use a strap or towel around the foot to be able to reach it. Hold for five to 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

6. Supine Spinal Twist

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The intention of this pose is to release any last tension from your body and relax. HOW TO DO IT: Lying on your back, breathe deeply and press the knee toward the opposite side of your body as you press your opposite shoulder down toward the mat or floor on the other side. The twist should take place on the exhale as you release any last feelings of tension or stress. Feel your body open. Feel the sensations of relaxation wash over you as you repeat this on both sides and end with a nice meditative silence. Notice the inner peace and contentment you feel. Let go of all thoughts and surrender to the beauty of this moment.

6 Yoga Poses For Kids

Learning about yoga early and developing a practice is a wonderful habit for young children. It gets kids moving and engaged in a fun physical activity, and it also helps children feel more focused, calm and less stressed.

Bridge Pose

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Any inversion that reverses the blood flow is beneficial for reoxygenating the body. This is important for full-body circulation and energy levels.

To accomplish this position, have your child lie on her back and bend both knees so that her feet are flat on the ground. Have her bring her heels as close to her bottom as she comfortably can and then lift her hips high to the sky. Most kids have a very flexible spine, so they can press their hips up very high. This pose is also great for leg strength, ankle stability and energy.

Downward-Facing Dog

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This pose is not only great for oxygenating the body (again due to reverse blood flow), but it becomes a resting pose for stability. It also serves as a “home base” for yoga. When positioned properly — with heels reaching for the ground, shoulders relaxed and elbows spiraling outward while pressing through all fingers and through the palms — this is a strengthening stability pose. The yogi is fully grounded through both hands and feet. The more effort put into the physical position, the more the mind is free from wandering.

Instruct your child to begin on hands and knees and then tuck her toes and lift her bottom high so her body and the mat create a triangle, pressing her chest forward with her head hanging down. Instead of allowing kids to stand on their tiptoes, which may happen naturally, have them focus on keeping their feet firmly on the ground, bending their knees if needed.

Crescent Moon

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This pose benefits the flexibility of the sides of the body. Most injuries are caused by overextending the body because the side of the body is typically very tight.

You should help your child extend her arms into the air and stretch her fingertips off to both sides, which will cause her to balance the weight of the torso while at the same time strengthening obliques and adding the necessary flexibility.

The most important reminder to give yogis is to remember to breathe while doing this pose to allow the full stretch to occur.

Tree Pose

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This is a pose to quiet the mind and work on balance. Holding the tree takes concentration and tightening of the core. Stability comes from within the bandhas. Most children find difficulty quieting the mind and drawing focus within. This is the perfect pose to quiet the mouth, quiet the mind, pull everything in and hold the tree while breathing in and out through the nose.

Standing steady on two feet, have your child press one foot firmly into the mat while lifting the opposite heel. When she feels stable in this position, she can turn out the knee with the heel lifted and bring the heel to the inner ankle. If the child feels steady here, she can experiment with lifting the toes completely off the mat and setting the foot on the opposite leg.

Notes:

Most kids will set their lifted foot on their mid-calf. If they are very steady, they can place their foot a bit higher, as long as they don’t press it directly into the knee joint.

Happy Baby Pose

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Have your child lie on her back, pull her knees toward her belly and then grab on to the outsides of her feet. Then tell her to open her knees as wide as the torso and press her feet into her hands. Kimberly notes that this pose is great for the spine, so it is important to instruct your child to keep her tailbone on the ground during this pose.

The more the tailbone is planted on the ground, the more the spine will get the full massage/alignment that is necessary. This also is hip-opening, which is great for the body.

Child’s Pose

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This list wouldn’t be complete without the pose of the child, which Kimberly refers to as “the place of safety.” From all fours, tell your child to sit back on her heels, resting her head on the mat. Then let her “walk” her fingers away from her body to stretch the hips, thighs and ankles.

This is a grounding pose that is a mind soother and a fabulous resting pose. Remain quiet and calm when getting kids into this pose so they reference it as just that. It is where you go in a yoga class when you need to regroup and collect yourself.

Yoga For Kids

Exercise is a big part of our daily routine. We love to go walking or jogging with friends in the morning and in the evenings when The Mister gets home from work we usually head outside with our bikes or go bouldering. Kids love riding the bike and climbing for sure. Before bed each night let’s stretch out a little before story time.

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Here are a few tips to make Yoga for Kids easy and fun for the whole family.

1. Designate a special time each day to spend stretching and practicing your poses. Routine is great for kids and it gives them something to look forward to.

2. Purchase their own yoga mat. No, you don’t need a special mat to practice these moves, but kids will take ownership in the equipment and it will be special to them and their routine.

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3. Let them chose the music! I love to have a favorite jam playing when we stretch. Involve them by having them chose their favorite music to practice to.

4. Have fun and be silly! Have the kids pick out their favorite poses and when you are done, let them jump around and get the wiggles out.

5 Yoga Poses For the Work Day

The alarm rings. You roll over and see there’s still half an hour before you have to leave. BAM. You hit the snooze button. Sound familiar? Whether you love your job or dread the thought of having to drag yourself out of bed instead of lovingly tapping the snooze button about fifteen more times, I think we can all agree that a long work day is taxing on our bodies.

Below is a sequence of 5 poses that are guaranteed to have you feeling rejuvenated, focused and ready to tackle any task that comes your way!

Seated Cat /Cow Sequence

An alternative to the hands and knees variation, cat and cow can provide much needed relief and movement for the spine and back.

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Begin by sitting up tall in your chair reaching your head towards the ceiling. On your inhale, lift from the upper chest and arch your back. Exhaling, squeeze your belly button to your spine and round your back deeply, tucking the chin to the chest. Repeat this sequence for several breaths.

Note: Bracing your hands can deepen each movement. Gently use the knees as a resistance point.

Seated Half Moon Pose

Often ignored, a flexible side body is an important part of our posture, practice, and overall health. Practicing this seated side bend will help you find length in your torso and relief from long days at the computer.

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Inhale, your arms up, and grasp your left wrist in your right hand. Exhale, rounding over to the right and making a “C” shape with your left ribs. Inhale back to center, switch your grip and repeat on your left side.

Reminder: Draw your shoulders away from your ears so as not to crowd your neck.

Eagle Arms

Originally taken from Garudasana, or Eagle pose, eagle arms are an easy way to never leave your desk but still feel a juicy stretch in your shoulders and upper back.

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Inhale and bring your right elbow underneath your left. If you can, wrap one more time around to grab onto the wrist, or place the palms together. Exhale, draw your elbows down away from your shoulders. Hold for a few breaths. Inhale, lifting your elbows towards the ceiling for a completely different sensation.

Repeat with the left elbow under your right.

Puppy Pose (Against a wall)

Another great pose to bring relief for the shoulders and upper back.

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Start by standing parallel to the wall. Place your palms straight in front of you pressing into the wall and slowly begin to walk your feet backwards. Stop when you feel an adequate sensation in your shoulders.

Reminder: Engage your core, squeezing belly button to spine, in order to keep from arching your back and putting tension into the lower back.

Standing Forward Fold

An all-around crowd favorite is a forward fold. It releases tension in the lower back, the neck and shoulders. A gentle inversion, it can help change your perspective on an otherwise stressful day.

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Flow into the fold by inhaling your arms up to the ceiling. As you exhale, fold forward from your hips and release your hands towards the floor. Shake your head yes and no to release any tension still remaining.

Modification: Hands don’t reach the floor? Hamstrings screaming? Bend your knees and grasp each elbow in the opposite hand, completely surrendering to the fold.

Now you are ready to get to work! These poses can also be repeated as a break each hour to keep you limber and focused throughout the day.

5 Relaxing Yoga Poses for Moms

Take these 5 poses as you can in your own time. Relax and enjoy the life.

Rag-Doll With Arm Bind

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Separate your feet hips width distance apart and fold your torso over your legs. Soften your knees. Interlace your hands at your lower back lift the arms and wrap your hands over your head toward the floor in front of you. If you cannot easily interlace your hands, grab a towel between your hands. Take deep breaths in and out. Let your head be heavy. This pose can help relieve tension in the head, neck and shoulders that can occur from breastfeeding and carrying a new baby.

Legs Up the Wall

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Bring your hips to the wall and swing your legs up the wall into an inversion. You can bring a pillow under the hips for a little extra support. This pose is very relaxing. It deepens one’s breath and eases stiffness from the legs. Put an eye mask or towel over the eyes to increase relaxation. It also aids digestion and can help ease mild depression.

Forearm Plank Pose

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This version of the plank is accessible for most people. Bring yourself into a plank on your forearms, by aligning your shoulders, chest, abdominal muscles, hips and legs. Toes are curled under. This will help to start strengthen and heal the abdominal muscles and spine. Stay for 10-30 seconds. If you need to, bring your knees down for support.

Bridge Pose

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Lie on you back. Bring your feet flat, knees bent. Lay your arms by your sides and lift your hips up. If you can, interlace your hands underneath you. This helps open up the neck, chest, and back. It revitalizes the spine and reduces fatigue and anxiety.

Child’s Pose

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Bring yourself to the floor and bring you knees wide apart and your toes to touch, separate your knees, bring your forehead to the floor. Then bring awareness to the lower abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor. Think about lifting the entire pelvic floor in and up. This will help a new mom strengthening the pelvic floor while also finding rest.

6 Yoga Poses Proven to Reduce Stress

If you have ever been stressed out – and chances are that if you’re human, you have been – you know well enough that stress has a knack for piling up.

The key is to keep moving forward and not let stress get the best of you. Allowing stress and tension to fester causes it to overtake your state of mind.

When we succumb to being overwhelmed, the to-do-lists can begin to seem infinite. This leaves little time for self-care. We can agree that a main goal in life is to be happy and productive, and de-stressing is a big part of that. Happily for us, yoga is here to help!

Your yoga practice can have an immensely positive impact on your stress levels and happiness overall, so it’s important to maintain a regular yoga routine, especially when the stress begins to build.

Here are 6 yoga poses to help you reduce stress now:

1. Cat to Cow Pose:

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These two yoga poses together make a great spinal massage and your belly organs are acting as a powerful stress buster. When the two motions are paired together, they stimulate an emotional balance.

2. Downward Facing Dog:

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We do this pose a lot in our yoga practice, and for good reason! Down Dog helps awaken the senses. As an added bonus, it also reduces fatigue. It’s a great resting pose, and rejuvenates the body by improving overall blood circulation.

3. Child’s Pose:

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When in doubt, take a Child’s Pose. I have spent some practices hanging out and just breathing in Child’s Pose. This resting pose can be sequenced between challenging asanas, and is a simple yet effective way to calm mind and body whether you’re flowing on your mat or in the middle of a stressful day.

4. Half Pigeon:

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As we discussed in the previous pose, we store a lot of emotion, tension, and stress in our hips. Half Pigeon is a wonderful, deeper hip opener – but it can bring discomfort, so stay with it and breathe. Remind yourself to let go, surrender, and relax into the pose, which is a great reminder to apply in stressful situations and life in general.

5. Bridge Pose:

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Bridge calms the brain and helps alleviate stress, while stimulating abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid. The pose also acts as an effective therapy tool for high blood pressure.

6. Forward Fold:

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This is often a transition between poses, but presents many benefits when practiced on its own. In order to de-stress, do the pose with slightly bent knees – make it gentle. After a few deep breaths, you’ll begin to feel tension release in the neck, shoulders, spine, and hamstrings. Shake your head yes and no a few times, and for even more release, interlace your hands behind your back and allow your arms to hang overhead.

6 STRETCHES FOR BETTER SLEEP

We all want a good night’s rest, but it doesn’t always come easily. With such busy lives, we all have sleep issues. You would think we would be so exhausted that our bodies would immediately find rest. But that’s not the truth.

After a long day, your body and mind has been through a lot. Though we may be tired – the busy lives we live create a constant sense of chaos within us. This chaos is hard to manage, control and let go of in the midst of every day hustle and bustle.

So, we are left with a lot of physical and mental tension that needs to be released. These 6 yoga stretches are great to incorporate in your evening routine so you can truly rest and reset.

1. Reclined Pigeon Pose

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Begin to bend the left knee and bring the sole of the foot to the earth. Set up your right leg so that the ankle crosses over the base of the left thigh and flex the foot. Reach through the legs with the right hand and to the outside of the leg with the left. You can hold onto the hamstring, shin or you are welcome to use a strap.

2. Sleepy Pigeon

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Okay, okay…I made up the name sleepy pigeon. And no, this is not an actual pose. More of an “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up…but I kind of like it-pose”. So bear with me. from reclined pigeon (whichever variation), begin to roll onto the left side body. If you are holding the shin with the left leg extended, keep everything the same. If you are in traditional reclined, hold onto the right ankle/calf with the left hand until the foot stamps onto the earth on the left side.

3. Reclined Pigeon Twist

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From your sleepy pigeon, grab onto the right ankle with your left hand (if it’s not there already) and reach the right arm out to the right side about 90 degrees from the body. If your left leg is straight slide it up until it tucks in to support the right ankle. Take an inhale and let the exhale guide your gaze over to the right.

4. Banana Pose

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Make your way onto your back. Begin to take the left heel over to the upper left hand corner of your mat. Then, move the right ankle over to meet it or cross it over the left. Keeping your hips grounded, begin to scoot your shoulderblades to the left so you create the shape of a banana with your body. You can reach the arms overhead here if it feels nice.

5. Outer Hip Release

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From a table top or plank position, begin to draw the left knee over to the right tricep and then thread it straight through onto the right side. Set your outer leg and left hip all the way on the ground, keeping the right toes tucked behind you. Starting with arms straight begin to move your chest forward and down to surrender into the pose.

6. Wide Leg Fold

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From your outer hip stretch, lift back up to the hands and then rotate your legs into a wide leg fold facing the back left hand corner of the mat. The first time through, hold this pose for 2 minutes about halfway down (top photo). After you repeat the outer hip release on the second side, fold completely into your wide leg fold for 4 minutes.

Warm Up: 6 Full-Body Stretching Exercises

Move 1: The Runner’s Stretch

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(A) Step your right foot forward and lower into a lunge, placing your fingertips on the floor or on two firm cushions if your hands don’t reach.
(B) Breathe in, then, in one motion, exhale as you straighten your right leg. Slowly return to the lunge position. Repeat four times. Switch sides.

Move 2: The Standing Side Stretch

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(A) Stand with your feet together and your arms straight overhead. Clasp your hands together, with your fingers interlaced and pointer fingers extended. Inhale as you reach upward.
(B) Breathe out as you bend your upper body to the right. Take five slow breaths. Slowly return to the center. Repeat on the left side.

Move 3: The Forward Hang

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Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and your knees slightly bent.
(A) Interlace your fingers behind your back. (If your hands don’t touch, hold on to a dish towel.) Breathe in and straighten your arms to expand your chest.
(B) Exhale and bend at your waist, letting your hands stretch toward your head. Hold for five deep breaths.

Move 4: The Low Lunge Arch

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Step your right foot forward into a lunge and lower your left knee onto the floor or a folded towel or blanket.
(A) Bring your arms in front of your right leg and hook your thumbs together, palms facing the floor.
(B) Breathe in as you sweep your arms overhead, stretching as far back as is comfortable. Take five deep breaths. Switch sides.

Move 5: The Seated Back Twist

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Sit on the floor with your legs straight.
(A) Bend your right knee and step your right foot over your left leg. Put your right hand on the floor, fingers pointing outward, for support. Bend your left elbow and turn to the right, placing the back of your arm against your right knee. Inhale as you sit tall.
(B) Breathe out as you twist, pressing your arm into your leg and looking over your right shoulder. Hold for five breaths, then slowly return to the center. Switch sides.

Move 6: The Bound Angle

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Sit on the floor with your legs straight.
(A) Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, letting your knees drop toward the ground. Hold your shins as you inhale and stretch your chest upward.
(B) Exhale as you hinge forward from your hips (without rounding your back) and place your palms on the ground. Hold for five slow breaths.