Standing Forward Bend
A standing forward bend/hang will do wonders for tight hamstrings, calves, and hips while strengthening the knees and thighs. This pose combats fatigue, anxiety, and soothes headaches and insomnia. To perform a standing forward bend:
- Take mountain pose with your feet hip-distance apart, don’t lock your knees.
- Interlace your fingers behind your back, palms up (or use a strap), straightening the arms and expanding the chest.
- Exhale and bend forward at the waist, stretching your hands toward the ceiling or your head.
- Alternately, you can place your palms or fingertips on the floor beside your feet, or hug the elbows and let your head hang loose.
A seated twist, or more precisely, Ardha Matsyendrasana, benefits multiple muscles and joints—like the neck, shoulders, hips, and spine—while it stimulates the digestive system, eases back issues (i.e., sciatica) and tummy discomfort (i.e., indigestion and menstrual cramps). To perform Ardha Matsyendrasana:
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front.
- Bend your right knee and place your right foot over your bent left leg.
- Place your right palm on the floor behind you, fingers pointing away from your buttocks.
- Twist to the right, bending the left elbow and hugging the back of the left arm against your right knee. Gaze over your right shoulder.
- Extend your spine as you inhale and twist more deeply during the exhale.
- Untwist and repeat on the opposite side.
Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.