Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose), variation
This twisting pose is excellent for creating balance between the left and the right sides of the body, for opening up the chest and torso, and for opening up tight hips.
Sit tall with both legs extended in front of you. Make sure you are sitting evenly on your sitting bones. If your hips are very tight, sit on a block, or folded blanket until you can sit with a straight spine. Bend your left knee in and place your foot on the ground on the outside of your right thigh. Place your left hand on the ground behind your sitting bones, as close to the back as possible. Inhale and reach your right arm straight up. Exhale and twist to the left, rotating from the waist. Place your elbow on the outside of the left quadriceps and gaze out over your left shoulder. Hold for one minute and switch sides.
This pose is excellent for opening up the chest, shoulders and the hamstrings. It also mirrors the proper upper body alignment for cyclists.
Start on your hands and knees, with your knees directly beneath the hips and hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Exhale and tuck your toes under, pressing your tailbone toward the sky. Keep your knees slightly bent to start. Press your heels toward the ground, it is okay if they don't reach it. Lower down onto your forearms, with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Broaden your shoulder blades away from each other. Breathe deeply and hold for one to two minutes.
Claire Petretti is a RYT yoga instructor, NASM certified personal trainer, certified Pilates teacher and freelance writer residing in San Diego, California. In addition to training clients privately, she teaches at Sculpt Fusion Yoga, Frogs and CorePower Yoga. You can learn more about Claire and yoga at www.oceansoulyoga.com.