Bend relaxes back in more ways than one

This seated forward bend elongates your spine and gives an intense stretch in the entire back of your body, including your hamstring and calves. Bending one knee will also help you feel a deep stretch in your hips. Because this stretch creates a quiet and calming effect, it’s ideal at the end of your cardio or strength-training workout. Choose which variation works best for you.

1 Sitting on a yoga mat or padded surface, legs stretched out in front of you, bend your right knee and bring the sole of your right foot against your left inside thigh. Grasp the ends of a belt in each hand. Sit up tall and hook the belt around the ball of your left foot. Continue to lengthen both sides of your back by stretching the pubic bone down and pressing out through the crown of your head. Hold for 4 to 5 full even breaths. Repeat on the other side.

2 Inhale and raise both arms overhead. Exhale and bend forward from your hips. Rest your sternum close to your left knee and your chin near your shin. First, hold the toes of the extended foot, and over time, gradually reach to hold your wrists beyond your foot. Hold for 5 to 6 breaths, and repeat on the other side.

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- Karen Voight