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Day 18: Beginner

Noon Practice with Jason Crandell

Designed to relieve the physical tension and mental fatigue that often accompany the workday, this practice is one of the most vigorous of your 21-Day Yoga Challenge. It includes Sun Salutation, several backbends, and an intense standing twist, Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose). If that sounds exhausting, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how refreshed you feel afterward. Think of it as your after-work cocktail. It's also short enough to squeeze into your lunch break.

If a pose is new or particularly difficult for you, be careful not to force it. "Know that the work in the yoga pose isn't just to do a big yoga pose. It's to do the pose with integrity," Jason Crandell says. If your back heel peels off the floor in Revolved Side Angle Pose, lift it all the way up and press the ball of your foot into the floor. Don't hesitate to lower your knees to the floor in Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), swap Upward-Facing Dog for Cobra Pose, or pass on Dhanurasana (Bow Pose). Modifying postures to suit your body is essential to safe and effective practice.

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Challenge Tip

The "no pain, no gain" mantra has no place in yoga. "We want to coax the body into opening rather than forcing it to comply," Jason Crandell explains. If a posture hurts, don't do it. It might be inappropriate for your body, or you might be doing it improperly. Talk to a yoga teacher about how to make the posture work for you.

Today's Recipe: Swiss Chard

Warm, gooey, savory: What else could you want in a post-yoga meal?

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