How to Stretch your way to better health

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Work out trends and fads come and go, but yoga is one workout that has proven to bring whole body health benefits. Yoga has been practiced for 5,000 years in many parts of the world. Yoga burns calories and tones muscles, but is a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and relaxation.
Yoga can be intimating if you have never done it before. You may think, “There is no way that I will ever be able to stretch that way!” Like anything else in life there is a gradient to skill and you need to know where to start.

Here are 5 beginners poses that will put you on your way to a healthier life through yoga:

1. Mountain Pose

Stand tall with feet together, shoulders relaxed, and weight evenly distributed through your feet and your arm at your side.
Take a deep breath in, through your nose and out through your mouth, and raise your hands over your head with your palms facing each other with your arms straight. Reach toward the sky with your fingertips.

2. Downward Dog

Start on your hands and knees with hands directly under shoulders, and your knees under your hips.
Walk your hands a few inches forward. Spread your fingers wide while pressing your palms into the mat.
Curl your toes under, straighten your legs and slowly press your buttocks and hips toward the ceiling. Press your shoulders away from your ears. Your feet should be hip-width apart, knees should be slightly bent. By doing this, you will be bringing your body in to an inverted V.

Hold for 3 full breaths

3. Warrior

First stand with your legs about 3 or 4 feet apart. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and left foot inward slightly.
Then bring your hands down to your sides and relax your shoulders. Extend your arms out to the side with your palms down.
Bend your right knee 90 degrees, keeping your knees over your ankle. Look over your right hand and stay for one minute.

Switch sides and repeat.

4. Tree Pose

Stand with your arms at your sides.
Shift your weight onto your left leg. Then take your right foot and place the sole on the inside of your left leg, near the ankle or calf. (As you improve balance and flexibility over time, placement of the foot can move up the leg.) Make sure to keep your hips facing forward.
Once you are balanced, bring your hands in front of you in a praying position, palms together.
Then take a deep breath in and while breathing in extend arms over your shoulders. Separate palms and continue hands each other. Stay in that position for 30 seconds.
Lower and repeat on your opposite side.

5. Child’s Pose

From a kneeling position, sit your bottom comfortably on your heels.
With your arms positioned straight up over your head, lean your torso forward and bring your forehead to rest on the mat in front of your knees. (It is recommended to have something soft to rest your head on.)
Lower your chest as close to your knees as you can, but make sure it is comfortable. Keep your arms extended, next to your ears.

Hold the pose and breathe.

Yoga is a great way to improve your physical and mental health. Do you have a favorite yoga position or exercise?

Comment below and share!