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Gentle postures for a healthier body and a peaceful mind

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“Yoga is life,” said the founder of Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Bhajan.

Kundalini is a school of yoga that incorporates meditation, prayer, breathing exercises and postures, called asanas, to fuse the individual soul with a universal consciousness. “Yoga” in Sanskrit means “to unite.”

Other schools of yoga, such as Anusara, Iyengar, Hatha, Ashtanga and many more, contain these core elements of yoga with different emphases to develop emotional detachment, stillness, physical strength and flexibility, positivity or smooth-flowing lymphatic and hormonal systems. Yoga can bring many more gifts with even occasional practice.

You don’t have to twist yourself into a pretzel, either. Yoga offers several gentle and simple positions that beginners can do every day.*

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog):

1. Come to your hands and knees with the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips. Curl the toes under and push back, raising the hips and straightening the legs.

2. Spread the fingers and press from the forearms into the “four corners” of the hands. Outwardly rotate the upper arms, broadening the collarbones. Let the head hang and move the shoulder blades away from the ears towards the hips.

3. Keeping legs stretched back, rotate the thighs inward. Keep the tailbone high and sink your heels to the floor.

4. Check that the distance between your hands and feet is correct by coming forward to a plank position; that distance should be the same in these two poses. Do not step the feet toward the hands in Downward Dog in order to the get the heels to the floor. This will happen eventually as the muscles lengthen.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog):

1. Lie flat on the floor. Stretch your legs back, with the tops of your feet on the floor. Bend your elbows and spread your palms on the floor beside your waist so that your forearms are relatively perpendicular to the floor.

2. Inhale and press your inner hands firmly into the floor and slightly back, as if you were trying to push yourself forward along the floor. Curl the tailbone toward the floor and keep tucked.

3. Straighten your arms and simultaneously lift your torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor on an inhalation. Keep the thighs firm and slightly turned inward and the arms firm and turned outward so the elbow creases face forward.

4. Firm the shoulder blades against the back and puff the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum (heart toward the sky) but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Look straight ahead or tip the head slightly back, but take care not to compress the back of the neck and harden the throat. Keep eyes and jaw soft.