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.

5 Yoga Poses to Improve The Strength

Yoga is certainly about the spiritual side of things, but it is absolutely possible to build plenty of strength and tone the body with the right poses. It’s all about working with your body’s weight!

Straight-Arm Plank

Straight-Arm Plank works the whole body — especially the legs, arms, and abs. It forces the body to train itself to maintain alignment and keep joints safe.

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· Start resting on all fours.

· With your palms flat, raise up off your knees onto your toes. Keep your hands directly below your shoulders.

· Contract your abs to keep yourself up and prevent your bottom from sticking up. Remember to keep your belly button pulled in.

· With your head and spine in line, keep your back flat — don’t let it curve. Picture your body as a long, straight board.

· Hold for at least 10 seconds. Aim for 20 to 30 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to one minute as you get stronger.

Crow Pose

Arm balances might look like they only keep the upper body engaged, but it’s also about keeping your core strong. If you’re looking to tackle Crow Pose, check out these tips to get balancing and build a stronger pose.

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· Begin in a Wide Squat. Place your palms firmly on the ground in front of you. Be sure to spread your fingers as wide as you can, and press into your fingertips to release any pressure in your wrists.

· Now straighten your legs slightly and place your knees as high up onto your triceps as possible, toward your armpits.

· Shift your weight forward into your hands and see if you can lean the weight of your knees into the backs of your arms. Then try lifting one foot off the ground and then the other. If you can bring your toes together, you’ll feel more compact and it’ll be easier to balance. Squeeze your knees together slightly and pull your belly button in towards your spine to give you a sense of lightness.

· Stay here for five breaths, or you can work on straightening your arms. It’s OK if you lose your balance and fall over. It took me a ton of tries to be able to stay balanced. Just keep trying!

Chair Pose

Sure, Chair Pose might look easy, but it is a killer move for your thighs and glutes when done correctly. Be sure to focus on alignment to keep your body safe and get that sculpted lower body you’re after.

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· Stand with your feet together in Mountain Pose. Bend your knees and lower your hips as you raise your arms overhead.

· Focus on sitting back into your heels to relieve pressure from your knees and to target the thighs and glutes. Tuck your tailbone in and engage your abs, keeping your spine straight. Roll your shoulder blades back and down away from your ears to release any tension in the neck or upper body, and gaze up toward the ceiling.

· Stay like this for five breaths.

Boat Pose

Boat is one of the most effective yoga poses to tone up and build a strong core. Follow the steps below, but be sure to avoid these common mistakes.

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· Begin sitting on your mat. Lift your knees up to your chest, balancing on your sit bones.

· Keep your spine long, pulling your knees into your chest with your chest lifted.

· With your shins parallel to the ground (as shown), draw your navel toward your spine, and work on slowly straightening your legs upward. If your back starts to hunch, then bring your shins back down. The action of keeping your spine long and drawing your belly in is what works your abs here.

· Hold for five complete breaths. Rest, and repeat three times.

Warrior 3

Warrior 3 Pose brings the heat to your core, challenges your balance, and builds up strong muscles in your back. Instead of concentrating so hard in this pose, try to find a comfortable, centered space with deep strong breaths!

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· Stand with your feet together. Inhale as you extend your arms out wide in T position or straight overhead for a more advanced variation.

· Exhale as you bend forward at your hips, lifting your right leg straight behind you coming into Warrior 3. Draw your navel toward your spine and hold for five breaths. Then come to stand, lower your right leg, and repeat with the left leg lifted for another five.

5 Best Yoga Poses For Feet

You have probably heard about the various health benefits of yoga. It can solve almost all ailments. Yoga is a brilliant exercise, which energizes your body and refreshes the mind. Here, we look at some basic poses that are real good for your feet!

1. Mountain Pose:

This pose features in almost all yoga based literature. One of the simplest yoga asanas, mountain pose has many health benefits; one of them is promoting foot strength.

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Directions:

1. Begin by standing upright.

2. Straighten your knees and keep your sole flat on the ground.

3. Shift your feet closer to each other; your heels should be an inch apart.

4. Loosen your arms and keep them by the sides and gaze forward.

5. Hold this pose for at least 2 minutes.

2. Triangle Pose:

This pose is great for people who have problems in the feet. The triangle pose helps you lose weight and energizes your body.

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Directions:

1. Keep your feet shoulder width.

2. Now straighten your right leg and bend your hip down to the side.

3. You should grip your left arm with your left shin.

4. Now raise your other arm straight upwards.

5. Turn your head and look towards the raised arm.

6. Continue holding the position until you feel a stretch in the hips

3. Warrior Pose

The warrior pose helps improve calf flexibility and strength. Named after the legendary warrior, this asana is especially effective for the feet. For best results, perform the warrior pose everyday for at least three months.

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Directions:

1. Put your right foot in front and bend the knee.

2. Turn your left foot at a 90 degree angle to the right leg.

3. Now raise your arms and bring them parallel to the floor.

4. Your palms should face the ground.

5. Hold the pose for around 30-45 seconds.

4. Pigeon Pose:

The pigeon pose is a complete body workout. It helps improve strength in your legs and your upper body. It is especially good for people who suffer from foot problems. This pose is good for toning your thighs and helps loosen tight hip flexors and thighs.

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Directions:

1. Kneel down on the ground and keep your back straight.

2. Stretch your right leg behind you.

3. Keep extending your right leg until your left knee and foot are adjacent to the right hip.

4. Remember that your toes should remain pointed.

5. Lean forward and inhale deeply.

6. Push your chest outwards.

7. Hold position for around 20-25 seconds.

8. Switch sides and repeat.

9. Rest.

5. Camel Pose:

Camel pose has many benefits, from relieving congestion to strengthening your back and improving knee mobility, this pose does it all. The position of the legs and the efficacy of this pose have made it one of the best asanas for improving knee pain and treating lupus, arthritis and the like.

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Directions:

1. Kneel down on a yoga mat or the floor.

2. Your arms should rest at the side.

3. Begin bending your torso backwards.

4. Continue bending until you feel a stretch in your back.

5. Try and hold onto your heels with your hands.

6. If holding the heel is too difficult, consider keeping your hands on your hips.

7. Hold this pose for around 25-30 seconds before you let go.

8. Don’t jerk back to starting position, as you may end up hurting your back.

9. Perform 4-5 repetitions of this pose.

Practice these poses and improve your feet strength. Tell us about other poses that you practice to ease knee pain, tone your thighs or even relax your lower body below. Our readers would love to hear from you.

#7Dayyoga: A 7-Day Yoga fitness Challenge

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How often should you practice yoga? Research shows that a little bit of yoga everyday is better than a lot of yoga once or twice per week. Join our 7-day yoga fitness challenge now! We reward all the participants who complete the #7dayyoga challenge with One Week PRO Yoga Classes of Daily Yoga App.
How the #Fabuary Fitness Photo Challenge Works
 
–To get started, share the #7dayyoga challenge on your Facebook.

–To keep your mind and body active, make sure to do the daily yoga sessions of the following calendar.

–Don’t forget to post your fitness photos and add “#7dayyoga” on Facebook after your practice.

Please follow the calendar to start the challenge:

Day 1: Quick Stress Relief

Day 2: Easy Spinal Movement

Day 3: Daily Yoga for Abs

Day 4: Daily Yoga for Back

Day 5: Hip Opener

Day 6: Yoga for Body Toning I

Day 7: Easy Flexibility Improvement

Make sure you’ve downloaded Daily Yoga App, to follow this #7dayyoga fitness photo challenge, you’ll need to do the yoga sessions associated with each of yoga of the calendar.

The photo can be a yoga pose, a fitness selfie or the screenshot of  the result page”Sync to Daily Yoga” when you finish a session.

Now pick a day to start off ! And Have fun!

Leave questions or suggestions for us in our Facebook comments .

4 Yoga Poses for Strong Toned Arms

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

Now repeat that in your head over and over again as you hold plank position. In the midst of a challenging pose is where we start to tap into the calm in our mind, where we remind ourselves how strong we are, and where we begin to transform. When we start to transform our way of thinking and our way of being, this is when we start to transform ourselves from the inside out.

Fortunately, this transformation also holds

true to our arms! In yoga sequences, there’s a lot of focus on arm strength and stability from our wrists down to our fingertips.

These 4 yoga poses will help get rid of “arm flab” and build lean, toned muscle, improve your strength and stability, and build your bone density. Practice them today for strong, toned arms tomorrow!

1. Down Dog

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Start on all fours. Spread fingers and toes and begin to bring lift your hips up and back. Stretch out your hamstrings as you send your heels towards the mat.

Press your thighbones back, draw your ribs towards your spine and spiral your arms inward. Take 5 breaths here.

Benefits: Downward Dog, also known as the “anchoring” pose,not only stretches your entire body, but is beneficial for strengthening and toning your arms, shoulders, and back.

2. High Plank

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From Down Dog, bring your body forward and shift your weight towards your palms. Keep your arms straight and engaged. Make sure your shoulders stack directly above elbows and wrists.

Bring your feet hip-width distance apart, curl your toes under and straighten your legs. Gaze forward and bring your shoulders, hips and heels into a straight diagonal line. As my old yoga teacher used to say, “a ball should roll smoothly down that straight line.”

Benefits: Holding High Plank requires your entire body to be engaged and strong. This tones the core, which in turn strengthens and supports the low spine, and also builds arm muscle.

3. Forearm Plank

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Start with your elbows shoulder-width apart and forearms parallel to each other. Hands can be interlaced or planted palms-down in front of your elbows. Curl your toes under and straighten your legs, keeping them strong and engaged.

Stack your shoulders directly above your elbows, and bring your shoulders, hips and heels into a straight line. Engage your core, and keep your gaze forward.

For a more gentle modification, lower your knees to the mat. To make this pose more challenging, lift one foot slightly off the ground and hold (make sure you repeat on both sides).

Benefits: This takes planking to the next level. All layers of muscles activate and contract in order to hold your body weight up, which in turn builds strength and lean muscle in your arms and core.

4. Dolphin Pose

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Begin on all fours. Start by placing your forearms parallel on your mat and your elbows directly below your shoulders. Keep elbows shoulder-width apart and begin walking your toes toward your elbows (about 4-5 steps up). Relax your neck and keep your gaze slightly forward.

For a more challenging modification, start to lift one leg behind you coming onto the tips of your toes. Start to shift more weight into your forearms and hold. Repeat on both sides.

Benefits: Dolphin Pose strengthens the shoulders, stretches the rotator cuffs, and increases flexibility in the arms and back while building and toning lean muscle.

4 Reasons to Breathe Right

In part three of this three-part series on The Science of Breathing, discover a few of the ways focusing on the breath in yoga—and in everyday life—can improve your overall well-being.

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1. Happiness + emotional stability

Manipulating the breath can alter how we feel, accounting for as much as a 40 percent variance in feelings of anger, fear, joy, and sadness, according to findings in the journal Cognition & Emotion. The breathing instructions used to evoke joy in the study? “Breathe and exhale slowly and deeply through the nose.” Sounds a lot like Ujjayi!

2. Weight Loss

Yogic breathing practices increase levels of leptin, a hormone produced by fat tissue that signals the brain to inhibit hunger, according to research from Shirley Telles, PhD, director of the Patanjali Research Foundation in Haridwar, India.

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3. Better exercise stamina

A cardiologist at the University of Pavia, Italy, compared  a group of mountaineers who practiced slow breathing an hour a day for two years before attempting to climb Mount Everest to a group who didn’t. The breathing group reached the summit without needing the supplemental oxygen the other group did, and their blood and exhalation samples showed they were using 70 percent of the surface area of their lungs, an amount that maximizes the O2 taken in.

4. Longer life

Just one session of relaxing practices like meditation, yoga, and chanting influenced the expression of genes in both short-term and long-term practitioners, according to a Harvard study. Blood samples taken before and after the breathing practices indicated a post-practice increase in genetic material involved in improving metabolism and a suppression of genetic pathways linked with inflammation. Since chronic inflammation has also been associated with such deadly diseases as Alzheimer’s, depression, cancer, and heart disease, it’s probably fair to say that better breathing may  not only change your life but may also save it.

5 Poses to Keep You Warm

Here are 5 simple yoga poses that will not only help get the blood flowing to increase immunity and keep you healthy this winter, but will also help keep you warm and feeling good!

1 Crescent Lunge (High Lunge)

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There are many different ways to enter this pose but you are basically coming into a high lunge with the front knee and ankle stacked and the back leg lifted. Keep the back leg strong and engaged and raise the arms up alongside the ears.

Add more fire: Flow this pose by taking an inhale with the arms reaching up and as you exhale fold the torso forward over the front knee and reach the arms behind you. Inhale and lift the torso back to center, reaching the arms back up alongside the ears.

2 Plank pose

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Begin on all fours with the wrists underneath the shoulders. Tuck the toes under and step the feet back until knees come up and the body is in one straight line. Keep the thighs and abdomen engaged and spread the shoulder blades.

Add more fire: Raise one set of toes up off the floor a few centimeters and hold for a few breaths. then switch sides. Or you can go over into side plank, back to center and over to the other side flowing between all three variations.

3 Goddess pose

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Stand with your feet about three feet apart, turn the toes out and the heels in and then squat down. Keep your knees back, in line with the ankles, and avoid arching the lower back by tucking your tailbone.

Add more fire: Flow this pose by straightening the legs and reaching the arms overhead with an inhale, then squatting deeply back down with an exhale. You can also place the same forearm on the knee and reach the opposite arm over the ear into a side stretch with an exhale, inhale back to center, exhale over to the opposite side.

4 Legs up the wall pose

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This isn’t necessarily an outwardly “warming yoga pose” but it will warm you from the inside out by allowing you time to deeply relax and go inward, which is especially needed at this busy time of year! Sit next to a wall with one of your hips resting next to the wall. Gently swing your legs around until they are up the wall with the backs of the thighs resting on the wall. Then slowly lower yourself down to lie on your back.

Add more fire: Invite even more warmth by adding lots of blankets and an eye pillow to help you melt more deeply into warm, comforting bliss.

5 Skull Shining Breathing

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This is one of the most warming and invigorating breath techniques, so it’s perfect for winter. It also cleanses the respiratory system and the lungs, so it can help keep the winter bugs at bay. Take a few deep breaths to begin with and when you feel ready, start to gently force out the exhalation by contracting and drawing in the abdomen; the inhale will happen naturally. Start with just a few rounds building up over time.

Let me know how these poses work for you, and whether there are any more winter warmers that you can recommend for these cold, dark days!

5 Poses for Strong Abs

The core is the power source within the body, so strong abs are so much more than something to strive for in the summer. Powerful abdominal muscles support your everyday movements, improve your posture, and stabilize your lower back. On the mat, strong abs create more efficient movements throughout every pose. There is power in moving from your physical center and cultivating core strength. Off the mat, this deep source of strength allows you to move through the world with more grace and ease, and puts you in touch with your personal power.

These 5 poses target the crucial core muscles, as well as engage and empower your total-body strength.

Crescent Lunge

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Crescent Lunge is a full-body pose that trains all the muscles to work as one unit. With a long stance, ground down into all four corners of your front foot. Stack your back heel over the ball of your back foot and hug skin to muscle and muscle to bone. Hug your inner thighs in toward one another, square both hips to the front of the mat, and draw in toward your centerline. From the floor to your core, lift up, and from your core to the floor, root down. Extend your arms and chest high. Hold for 5–10 deep breaths.

Half Moon Pose

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Half Moon helps to develop both stability and flexibility as you draw into your core and radiate out in all directions. Step to the top of your mat and come into a Standing Forward Bend to set up. Ground down into the four corners of your right foot, and from your core strength, lift your left leg up and in line with your hip, parallel to the floor, and flex your foot. Plant your right hand about 12 inches or more in front of your standing foot, in line with your pinkie toe, and lift onto your fingertips. Place your left hand on your left hip. Lift the front of your pelvis toward your belly button. With your core engaged, stack your hips and open them toward the left side wall. Activate your center by pulling your belly button toward your spine. You can build up from here by extending your left arm to the sky or lifting your bottom hand or both hands to heart center to cultivate even more abdominal strength. Hold for 5 breaths and transition to the other side.

Triangle Pose variation

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Triangle is an expansive pose that requires deep roots through your legs to lift up into your core and cultivate abdominal strength. Take a wide stance on your mat and align your heels and your front foot at 12 o’clock. Seal the outer edges of both feet and lift your inner arches. From your hips to your heels, root down to create a solid foundation at the earth. Lift the energy up your legs, hug your muscles to the bones, and draw your energy into your core. Straighten both legs while keeping a micro-bend at your front knee. Place your bottom hand to the outside of your leg and press into your fingertips. Catch your top hip with your top hand, engage your core, and twist your chest high. Knit your front ribs together. To strengthen your abs even more, keep your torso as it is, lift your bottom hand, and reach toward the front wall, with your bicep by your ear. Reach both arms overhead to fire up and tone your core even more. Hold for 5 balanced breaths. Bring both hands to your hips. Lifting from your core strength, stand up and switch sides.

Boat Pose

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Boat Pose creates total body integration and balance while strengthening and toning the abdominal wall and supporting the low back. Sit up straight, lift your legs off the floor, and balance on your seat. Catch behind your knees and extend your heels high. Activate your feet, press the inner arches together, and fan your toes open. Extend your hands forward and spread your fingers. To modify, bend your knees to bring your shins parallel to the ground and keep your hands behind your knees for more support. Draw your upper arm bones back and broaden across your chest. Engage your low belly and lift your chest up and open. Balance as you breathe deeply and hold for 5–10 breaths.

Plank Pose

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Plank is an igniting pose that cultivates both upper and lower body strength and connection at the core. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and extend your heels to the back of your mat. Press your outer shins in and firm your leg muscles to the bones. Extend your crown forward and reach your heels back. Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels and lift your low belly up and in, stoking your inner fire at your core as you hold for 10 breaths.