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HALF PYRAMID POSE

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Half pyramid pose is a modified version of pyramid pose and has several variations. In one version, the legs are firmly grounded into the mat, with the legs separated into a wide "V," the feet pointing in the same direction, and the torso facing the mat. The torso is then lowered toward the front leg by hinging at the hips with the back straight. The hands stay on the hips or brought to a wall directly in front of the foot. In this asana, the gaze is toward the third eye.

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Benefits:

Although variations of half pyramid pose are considered less challenging than pyramid pose, it still provides a powerful stretch for the body and a wide range of health benefits, including:

Improves digestion

Stretches the legs

Lengthens the back of the body

Calms the mind

Strengthens the nervous system

Yoga props that may be used in this asana include a folded blanket under the knees and a yoga block under the hands.

• Begin standing at the top of your mat with your arms at your sides in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Turn to the left and step your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Place your hands on your hips. Align your heels. Turn your right foot 90 degrees so the toes point to the top of the mat. Point your left toes at the top-left corner of your mat, turned about 60 degrees. In this “scissored” stance, your feet should be about hip-width apart.

• Keeping your feet in place, turn your entire torso to face the same direction as your front foot. Press your weight evenly through the outer edge of your back foot and the big toe of your front foot.

• Draw your left hip slightly forward, squaring your hips to the top of the mat. Draw your shoulder blades firmly into your back, but do not let your low ribs puff forward.

• Inhale as you reach your arms out to the sides. As you exhale, reach your arms behind your back. Clasp each elbow with the opposite hand. If your shoulders are more flexible, bring your hands into reverse prayer position, pressing your palms together and reaching your fingers toward your head.

• On an inhalation, elongate your torso. Exhaling, fold at the hips and extend your torso over your front leg. Keep your shoulders drawing back, but do not over-arch the low back. Maintain the length of your spine. Keep the crown of your head extending forward and your tailbone reaching behind you. Be sure to fold from the hip, not the waist.

• Ground down through the heel of your back foot. Gaze at your front big toe.

• Hold for up to one minute. To release, press firmly through your back heel and slowly lift your torso. Release your arms and place your hands on your hips. Change the position of your feet, and repeat on the opposite side.

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