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How yoga can change your thinking

Standing forward fold/intense stretch pose (uttanasana)Feet hip-width apart. Equal weight across four corners of the feet. Soften the knees. Catch outer elbows and allow the whole upper body to hang. Take a few breaths. Then place hands on shins, lift chest so spine is parallel to the earth for halfway lift. Get longer through the side waist. Lift navel up. Keep this length and, as you exhale, take hands behind calves and fold forward, extending the legs without locking the knees. Lift the quad muscles up away from knees. Shoulders away from ears, shoulder blades sliding down back. Take 10 breaths. Pyramid pose (parsvottanasana) Step left foot back a leg length, front foot set so toes are pointing forward and gap between second and middle toe dissects centre of heel. Turn left toes out 45 degrees, in line with back knee, sole of foot pressing down. Hands to hips, pull the right hip back in line with left. You may need to step the back foot out to the left a little in order to do so. Extend legs without locking knees. Sharpen back inner thigh and lift quads up. Use hands to pick the frontal hip bones up and away from earth and grow longer through the spine, crown of head reaching up. Keep this length in upper body and strength in the legs. Fold to take the chest and spine parallel to the earth. Bend elbows as you reach hands behind your back to grab wrists, elbows or palms together in reverse namaste (prayer). Without losing the length in the spine, fold forward. Take five slow breaths. On the next inhale, press through the feet to come all the way up. Release arms, hands to hips. Step left foot forward. Reset feet hip width apart, left toes pointing forward, and step the right foot back a leg’s length. Repeat on this side, pulling the left hip back in line with right. Sharpening legs, lifting quads, lengthening spine, take chest and spine parallel to earth. Lift quads and navel up as you bend elbows, reach arms behind you and grab wrists, elbows or reverse namaste. Fold forward on an exhale. Five conscious breaths.  Wide-legged forward fold (prasarita padottanasana) Release hands and take them back to hips. Adjust feet so that heels are in line and toes are turned in; the gap between the second and middle toe should dissect the centre of the heel. Hug the outer ankles in. Extend legs without locking knees. Use hands to lift frontal hip bones up, lengthening the tailbone down. Crown of head yearns for sky as you lengthen the side waist and spine. Quads lift, navel lifts, spine long as you hinge from the hips and fold forward, your spine parallel to earth. Bend elbows and take hands behind back. Clasp hands so that your palms press together — you may need to bend elbows in order to do so. Keep palms pressing as you reach wrists up to sky and maybe overhead. Shift hips over ankles. Take five to 10 conscious breaths. Release hands back to hips. Strong legs to lift spine parallel to earth, then all the way up on an inhale breath. Boat pose (navasana) Sit on buttocks. Bend knees and take the knees and feet together. Lift toes off the earth and feel the belly engage. Stay here, keeping the spine tall or take shins parallel to the earth. Stay here or, if you can, keep side waist and spine long and collar bones broad. Extend the legs so toes are in line with the eyes. Take five breaths, bend knees again and lower feet to earth. Rest for a breath. Repeat three times. Dolphin pose (ardha pincha mayurasana) Come to all fours on hands and knees. Set hips above knees. Place forearms down to the earth, elbows beneath shoulders and wrists in line with elbows. Press the forearms, wrists and palms down. Feet hip width, tuck toes and extend legs. Quads lift up. Front body hugs in. Resist gravity by pressing the earth away, shoulders away from ears. Soften the front ribs. Take five to 10 breaths depending on how long you can hold. Lower knees to earth and press back to child’s pose for a few breaths. Legs up the wall (viparita karani) Lie on your back with your legs up the wall. If hamstrings need a bit of love, put a pillow or folded blanket under the pelvis or shuffle away from wall a little. Elevating the pelvis also gives a lift so the heart is slightly above the head. Palms face up. You can stay here for as long as it’s comfortable or set a timer for five minutes. To come out, bend the knees and roll over to one side, pausing for a few breaths, using hands under head as a pillow. As a mama, writer, Play School presenter and yoga teacher, Rachael Coopes loves storytelling and yoga philosophy. Rachael is a lead teacher on our 200 hour yoga teacher training, and heads up our 50 hour YTT on embodying philosophy and theming. For more health and wellness inspiration head to wellbeing.com.au. 

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