6 Basic Yoga Workouts
Wide-legged Forward Bend
Stretches lower back, backs of legs, and inner thighs
Stand about 2 feet in front of chair, with feet as wide as comfortable. Turn toes slightly inward and contract leg muscles, keeping legs straight. Don't lock knees. Bend forward from hips, keeping back straight. Place hands on seat or back of chair. Keep head in line with spine. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, imagining the space between each vertebra of the spine expanding. As you become more flexible, bend elbows until forearms rest on chair.
Modified Triangle Pose
Wakes up the whole body by stretching chest, hips, torso, legs, and arms
A. Stand with chair seat facing you. Separate legs about 3 feet, left foot under chair, toes pointing to left. Turn right foot slightly to left and align arch of right foot with heel of left. Keep legs straight. Contract legs as if hugging muscles to bones. Lengthen spine and extend arms out to sides at shoulder level, palms down.
B. Keeping back tall, gently push hips to right as you lean to left, bending at left hip and placing left hand on chair seat. Stretch right hand toward ceiling, looking up. Pull shoulder up and back to keep torso facing forward. To increase the side stretch, lower right arm so it extends at a diagonal. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Relax and repeat on right side. As you become more flexible, bend elbow until forearm rests on chair.
Relieves achy calves, tight Achilles, and cramped toes caused by wearing high heels
Start on all fours, hands beneath shoulders and knees beneath hips. Bring left knee to chest and then extend leg behind you, placing toes on floor. Shift left foot forward an inch and then press left heel back as if you are trying to touch it to the floor (it won't actually reach). Hold for 20 seconds. Return to all fours. Repeat with right leg.
Loosens the fronts of thighs, which get tight from too much sitting
Lie on right side, head on right arm. Pull knees up until thighs form a right angle with torso. Extend left leg in a line with upper body. Point, then flex foot. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then relax. Bend left knee and grab ankle (or pant leg) with left hand. Gently pull foot behind (shown) you so you feel a stretch along front of thigh. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then release leg. Roll over and repeat with right leg.
Increases back flexibility, so you'll twist more easily the next time you have to parallel park
Lying on back with arms out to sides, bend knees and place feet hip-width apart and about a foot away from buttocks. Keeping shoulders on floor, slowly drop knees to right side as you turn head to left. Let feet roll naturally and lower knees as far as comfortably possible. You should feel a stretch along left side. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Return to start position and repeat to opposite side.