The Fountain of Youth might not exist in real life, but you can create its effects by stretching the right muscles. Use these poses to increase circulation, improve digestion, relieve stress—and take years off your body.
Ardha Supta Virasana (Supine Half Hero Pose)1 of 6
Yoga instructors call this the "fountain of youth" pose. It provides a powerful quad and psoas stretch, while increasing flexibility in the spine, knees and hips.
Start in a kneeling position with hips to heels. Extend one leg straight out in front of you, then slide the other foot gently to the side so that your bottom can rest on the floor with the heel next to the hip.
Slowly lower your back to the floor, walking your hands out as needed. Lower to the elbows first, then to the back of the neck if that feels comfortable. Feel free to place a bolster or cushion under your back if you have any discomfort. Remember: stretching sensation is good; sharp pain is bad.
Rest the hands gently at your sides. Breathe steadily for five to 10 breaths. To release, tuck the elbows back under you, and use your arms to lift your head and back off the floor. Return to a seated position. Repeat on the other side.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose or Seated Butterfly Pose)2 of 6
Another great one for athletes, this pose stretches the groin, inner thighs and knees, which can be tight from running, cycling, swimming, or even sitting at a desk. This pose stimulates circulation in many internal organs including the heart, digestive tract, kidneys and other abdominal organs. This pose can also be especially useful for fighting fatigue or anxiety.
Start by sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you and your hands by your sides. Bring your knees in, press the soles of your feet together and then gently release your knees to the sides, opening the hips. Keep your sit bones level with the floor and your spine straight. You don't want to collapse in the torso, as this will put unneeded pressure on your back.
Hold your feet or toes and relax your knees toward the floor without pushing or forcing your knees down. Breathe here five to 10 breaths. For more sensation, you can bend forward at the hips, keeping the spine straight and your chin in neutral position.
For a detox variation, sit up straight with your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind your right hip. Gently twist, being careful not to wrench your back or force the twist.
Ardha Purvottanasana (Reverse Tabletop Pose)3 of 6
Note: Do not perform this pose if you have wrist, neck or shoulder injuries.
Start in a seated position with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, with hands slightly to the side and behind your hips. Press your palms into the ground with your fingertips pointing forward.
Inhale, then press firmly into your hands and feet, lifting your hips and heart to the sky. Press through your feet, keeping your legs activated but your bottom relaxed. If this is comfortable for you, gently drop your head and breathe here for five to 10 breaths. If you need more sensation, you can also do this with your legs straight in front of you rather than bent.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog)4 of 6
If you've been to a yoga class, watched videos online, or live on earth, you are likely familiar with this pose. It is a staple of the vinyasa flow with excellent benefits such as stress, headache and insomnia relief. It also can help with back pain and digestion.
Start in a tabletop position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips to the sky, creating an upside down "V" with your body. Relax your neck, so your ears are by your biceps. Be careful not to overextend your shoulders.
Then, stretch your heels toward the ground, keeping your thighbones back and your spine lengthened. It's okay if your heels don't touch all the way to the ground. For beginners or athletes with tight hamstrings, this may take some time before the heels touch the earth.
Hold for five to 10 breaths. To come out of the pose, bend your knees and return to tabletop position.
Ustrasana (Camel Pose)5 of 6
Note: Do not perform this pose if you have serious back pain.
Similar to Half Hero, this pose provides a deep stretch for your quads and psoas, along with your ankles, belly, chest and throat. It strengthens your back muscles and stimulates the organs in your abdomen, which aid in digestion.
This pose is also great for posture, fatigue, anxiety and menstrual cramps. It can be energizing, too, so if you suffer from insomnia, do not practice this pose late in the day.
Start in a kneeling position with your knees hip-width apart and your thighbones perpendicular to the ground. Press the tops of your feet and your shins firmly into the floor. Place your hands on your low back, just above your hips. Raise your heart to the sky and carefully lean your head back to stretch the front of your neck. If this is enough to feel sensation, stop here.
If you need more sensation, carefully move your hands from your lower back to your heels and lean back without folding your lower back. You can do this with toes flexed or pointed, depending on how much space you have in your spine. Stay here for five to 10 breaths.
Release by coming back upright. Child's Pose is a great counter-pose to this one.