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WIDE-LEGGED FORWARD BEND

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1.Stand in mountain pose. Step the feet wide apart with the toes slightly turned in. Press the soles of the feet firmly into the floor so that both the inner and outer edges of the feet are fully engaged. Spread your weight evenly between the heel and ball of each foot. Allow the hands to rest on the hips. Inhale, tuck the tailbone under and lengthen the spine upward through the crown of the head.

2. As you exhale take your tailbone back and up to fold the upper body forward. Bring your hands to the floor, shoulder width apart, wrists in line with the inner arches of the feet. Allow the back of the neck to be long, and ease the crown of the head towards the floor as you let the weight of your head lengthen the spine.

3. Press into the outer edges of the feet as you lift the sitting bones up toward the ceiling, softening and lengthening the hamstring muscles at the back of the thighs. Bring your hips forward so the back of your heels, backs of your knees, and sitting bones are in one line. Keep lengthening the front of the spine, lifting the rib cage away from the belly on the inhale as you fold forward more deeply with each exhalation. Un-hunch your shoulders, yet work the arms to bring the back of the head to the floor. If it does touch the floor, increase your challenge by bringing the feet closer together.

4.If you would like to include a shoulder stretch, from the upright position interlace your fingers together behind the back, if possible with the heels of the palms together. Lengthen the hands away from the shoulders, squeezing the shoulder blades together and rolling open the upper chest. Inhale and lengthen the spine. Exhale as you hinge at the hips and fold forward. Roll the shoulders away from the ears has you squeeze the shoulder blades together toward the spine and bring the fingers toward the floor.

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Benefits:

• A calmed mind

• Relief from stress, anxiety, and mild depression

• Relief from mild backaches

• Opened hips

• Relief from neck and shoulder tension

• Toned abdominal organs

• Improved digestion

This pose also quiets and soothes the nervous system. Additionally,

it helps prepare the body and mind for deeper yoga poses and introspection.

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