Bow PoseStretches hips, shoulders, and thighs; strengthens back
Lie on your stomach and reach your arms back toward your feet with the palms facing up. Bend your knees so that your heels come in toward your buttocks. Inhale and grab the outside of your ankles (right ankle in right hand, left ankle in left hand). Press your ankles into your hands and your hands into your ankles as you lift your thighs off the floor. Breathe deeply and fully as you continue pressing your legs up and back. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat two or three times. If you are very tight in the hips or quadriceps, you may want to try one leg at a time.
Why it's good for you: One of the best stress-busting poses, Bow opens the chest to allow you to take in more oxygen. Strong abs are great, but can lead to injury if you don't strengthen the back, too. Bow pose takes care of this, reducing your risk of injury due to muscular imbalance.
Boat PoseStrengthens abs, spine, arms and hip flexors
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor in front of you. Place your hands behind your glutes and lean into the arms for support. Engage your core muscles and keep a perfectly straight spine as you lift your right leg and then the left, bringing them to a 45-degree angle with the floor. Bring your legs together and imagine squeezing a book between your thighs to keep them active. Lift through the sternum and slowly straighten your legs while keeping your torso straight (if it starts to collapse, keep a slight bend in the knees). Press through the balls of the feet and spread your toes wide. Reach your arms toward the front of the room, on either side of your legs, keeping them in line with your shoulders, palms facing down. Hold for 30 seconds, working up to a minute or longer.
Why it's good for you: In addition to strengthening the core and back muscles, Boat promotes healthy thyroid and prostate gland function.
Hero PoseStretches knees, ankles and thighs
Begin in a kneeling position with knees touching. Bring your heels out alongside your buttocks, keeping your shins and ankles pressing down into the floor. If you can, sit your buttocks on the floor between your legs. If this is uncomfortable, place a phone book or block beneath you to lessen the tension in the knees and ankles. You will feel a strong stretching sensation, but you should not feel pain. This is a progressive pose and your body will adapt to it over time. Hold for one minute and keep your breath slow and deep. Rest, and repeat a second time.
Why it's good for you: Hero pose stabilizes and strengthens the vulnerable knee joints while lubricating the connective tissues in and around the knee with blood, oxygen, and fluid, making it an essential pose for runners.
Reclining Big ToeStretches hips, thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves; strengthens the knees
Lie on your back and extend your left leg toward the ceiling at a 90-degree angle with your right leg extended along the floor. Flex both feet. Bend your left knee and bring the knee in toward your chest using your hands. Hug it tightly against your body to relax your hip. Next, loop a strap around your left foot and slowly straighten the left leg back to 90 degrees. Press your right thigh firmly down against the floor. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat twice on each side.
Why it's good for you: This pose stimulates the prostate gland and improves digestion. Runners may find it useful for relieving sciatica caused by a tight piriformis.
Finish in Corpse Pose, lying flat on your back with your arms alongside your body. Close your eyes and breathe naturally. Stay here for at least two to three minutes and allow every muscle to melt into the floor beneath you.