BENEFITS Strengthens back muscles; stretches your shoulders and chest; improves posture
INSTRUCTION Begin lying on your belly with your arms at your sides, forehead on your mat, palms facing up. Take a full cycle of breath, and as you complete the exhalation, gently squeeze your legs together and press the backs of your hands and fingernails into the ground. As you inhale, lift your upper and lower body simultaneously, keeping your feet and heels together and your legs straight. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades back toward each other, and then lift your chest higher off the ground. To open your shoulders more fully, reach your hands toward each other and, keeping your elbows straight, clench your hands together and lift your arms. (This deepest version of the pose will help to open your chest and shoulders in preparation for our peak pose.) Keep your gaze on the tip of your nose and imagine lengthening your entire body from the tips of your toes to the crown of your head. Hold here for 8–10 breaths. If there is any pinching in your lower back, slightly lower your chest and legs, or put your hands back on the floor. Feel for the sweet spot where you’re able to breathe comfortably but are working with full concentration.