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Yoga bends for balance and stability

Karen Voight can be reached at kvoightla@aol.com.

Yoga postures like these teach you how to create stability with your own body. Once you feel stable, you can hold poses longer and move in and out of them with a sense of control and balance. These two versions of the forward bend are challenging because they require concentration on your upper and lower body at the same time. If you are not flexible, practice the “hold elbows” option before trying the prayer position. You will feel a stretch in your shoulders and hamstrings.

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1 Hold elbows position: Stand upright on a firm, level surface. Fold your arms behind you, grasping a hand around each elbow, resting your arms on the small of your back. Separate your feet approximately 3 1/2 feet apart. Place your right foot so it is in line with your left heel. Point your right toes forward with your left foot rotated slightly outward. Inhale, keeping your knees straight as you press your feet into the floor. Exhale and hinge forward from your hips. Lower your body to the halfway point and hold this position for three to six breaths. Return to the starting position, switch legs, change the cross of your arms and repeat.

2 Prayer position: To do this more advanced position, stand upright on a firm level surface. Place your right hand behind your back about midway between your shoulders and hips. Place the back of your right hand against your back. Now bring your left hand behind your back and press the palms of your hands together, fingers pointing up. Wiggle your hands up between your shoulder blades and move your elbows back. Place your feet as in the hold elbows position above. On an exhalation, bend forward from your hips, continuing to bend as far forward as you can while keeping your back straight. Hold for three to six breaths, switch legs and repeat.

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-- Karen Voight


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