Another borrowed yoga exercise, each move in this sequence -- from your first forward bend through your last downward dog -- relies in part on the large muscles in your thighs. Try this basic version, then amp up to an extra-challenging one.
- On a mat, stand tall with your feet together and your arms by your sides. Be sure to distribute your weight evenly through the soles of your feet.
- To begin, take a deep breath and lift your chin slightly as you raise your arms over your head.
- Now, with your arms straight and your palms facing each other, reach toward the ceiling with your fingertips. (This is mountain pose.)
- From the mountain pose, sweep your arms down to the sides, exhaling as you swan dive forward into the forward bend. Bend at your hips until your palms or fingertips touch the floor on either side of your feet.
- Keep your fingers aligned with your toes and bend your knees if your back or hamstrings are tight.
- From the forward bend, move into a flat back, inhaling as you raise your torso to waist height, keeping your back flat. Bring your gaze forward, reaching with your tailbone away from the top of your head. Keep your head aligned with your spine and your navel pulled in.
- Bend your knees and place your palms flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
- Jump or walk both feet backward and lift your hips, coming into a downward facing dog. Spread your fingers and make sure your feet are parallel and hip-width apart. Reach with your tailbone toward the ceiling. Hold this position for a moment, breathing as you move deeper into the pose.
- To reverse this series, jump or walk your feet forward into the flat-back pose.
- Drop your head, straighten your legs, and bring your fingers outside either foot, moving into the forward bend.
- Lastly, sweep your arms overhead as you return to mountain pose.
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