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For a good stretch, try the table pose

January 10, 2005|Karen Voight | Karen Voight can be reached at kvoightla@aol.com.

This yoga posture, the table pose, is the opposite of a push-up. With your chest facing the ceiling, you'll stretch your shoulders, chest and hips while strengthening your abdominals, legs and buttocks. The straight-leg version requires a great deal of strength and flexibility, so you might not be able to do it right away. But by practicing the bent-leg version, you can build up to the full pose and still get the benefits of stretching the front of your body.

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-- Karen Voight

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1 Sit with your knees bent, hip width apart, feet flat on the floor. Place your palms behind you and directly below your shoulders, fingers pointing toward your feet. Inhale and lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Pause at the top of the lift and point your tailbone toward the back of your knees to take pressure off your lower back. Hold for two to three breaths, lower your hips and repeat one more time.

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2 When you can easily do the bent-leg version and want more challenge, try straightening your legs. Sitting on the floor, walk your feet forward until they are straight in front of you. With your hands below your shoulders, inhale and lift your hips and chest to the ceiling while pointing your toes to the floor. Tuck your chin in slightly and look forward to lengthen the back of your neck. Relax your shoulders by sliding your shoulder blades down your back. Be sure to keep pointing your tailbone to the back of your knees to protect your lower back. Hold for two to three breaths, then lower your hips to the floor.

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