This article is a continuation of Boosting body performance with yoga – Part one

Floor Bow – Dhanurasana

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Benefits: Strongly stretches the entire upper body and hip flexors. Also aids the digestive system

From Runners’ Lunge place the hands either side of the right foot again and step the right foot back, moving into a High Plank position. Keep everything strong and controlled as you lower all the way down to the ground.From here bend the knees and lift the feet up towards the buttocks. At the same time reach the arms behind you and hold around the inside of the feet or ankles.

Allow the upper body to relax and as you exhale kick the legs backwards whilst firmly holding the feet. The upper body will automatically lift bringing the spine into a back bending position, stretching the shoulders and chest. Keep the chin parallel to the floor and try to relax into the posture so the shoulders and chest can really stretch and open.

Keep the knees aligned so they are only a little wider than the hips as this will help to stretch the hip flexors. Lift the gaze upwards and breathe deeply for five breaths before gently relaxing back down to the ground.

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Pigeon Pose – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Benefits: Deeply stretches the muscles surrounding the pelvis, especially the gluteal and hip flexor muscles

Important: Do not do this yoga posture if you have a knee injury

From Dhanurasana, tuck the toes under and place the hands either side of the chest. Exhale and press up into a high plank position. Draw the right knee towards the right arm and externally rotate the right leg from the right hip so the right foot moves towards the left side of the yoga mat.

Lower the body to the ground so the right knee is on the right side of the mat and the right foot is on the left side of mat.The shin is resting diagonally across the mat with the right foot flexed. The left leg is extended directly back behind you. Allow the weight to transfer to the right hip a little, bend the left knee and lift the left foot towards the left buttock.

Reach back with the left arm and place the left foot in the crook of the elbow. Reach up and over with the right arm and join the hands. Lift the chin from the chest a little and lift the gaze upwards to encourage the spine to lift. Try to relax your body weight downwards into the hips to allow the muscles of the pelvis to stretch. Breathe deeply for five breaths.

yoga_Eka Pada Rajakapotasana_6

Cobbler’s Pose – Baddha Konasana

Benefits: Stretches the adductors

NB: If your hips are very tight, sit on one or two yoga blocks

From Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, release the hands and let the left leg rest on the ground. Transfer the weight completely to the right hip and support yourself with the hands on the ground whilst you move the left leg in front of you.

Press the soles of the feet together and drop the legs out to either side. Inter-lace the fingers and place them under the feet. Inhale, gently contract the abdominal muscles and straighten the spine as much as possible before tilting the pelvis forwards so the spine begins to extend forwards.

Gently press the elbows to the inner thighs and bring the upper body towards the feet. Last of all, let the head relax down and soften the gaze. It is very important to breathe deeply in this pose. Hold for at least five deep breaths before slowly moving out of the posture and relaxing back onto your mat in a lying position for at least two minutes. This is called Savasana.

yoga_Baddha Konasana_7

Photos: Ali Wardle www.aliwardlephotography.co.uk
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