Yoga Poses to Stretch

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Yoga

Many basic yoga postures feel very familiar. Our bodies bend and fold naturally into poses. Mindfully and with conscious breaths, you can create a sequence like the one below that is organic to how your body moves. This sequence of 10 poses look simple, but will stretch and strengthen your major muscle groups.

1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

In mountain pose there is a lot going on, even though it may look like just standing. The heels root down, the muscles of the legs are engaged, the bones are stacked with the shoulders directly over the hips, the shoulder blades slide down the back, and the crown of the head rises. Don’t forget to breathe.

2. Raised Arms Pose (Urdhva Hastansana)

Inhale and bring your arms up and over your head. Raised arms pose is your basic morning stretch, but focus on keeping the good alignment you established in mountain pose.

Stay grounded in the heels and keep your shoulders moving away from your ears at the same time that you reach up through your fingertips. Your gaze can come up to the hands, which can be shoulder’s width apart or palms touching.

3. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Exhale and fold over your legs into a forward bend. If the hamstrings feel a little tight at first, bend the knees so that you can release your spine. Let the head hang heavy. Keep the legs gently bent with feet hip-width apart for better stability (you can straighten the legs, but it is not necessary). You can clasp opposite elbows with opposite hands while swaying gently side to side.

4. Garland Pose (Malasana)

Move your feet out to the edges of your mat and bend your knees, coming into a squat. The toes may turn out if necessary. If your heels do not reach the floor, you can sit on two stacked blocks. This modification makes the pose more accessible for many people.

This is a position that is quite natural for children, but we lose the knack for it as adults. It’s great for the hips and to counteract the effects of too much sitting in chairs and riding in cars. It’s also a very useful pose if you like to garden.

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