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Day 3: Intermediate

Core Focus with Rebecca Urban

Core strengthening often gets short shrift in yoga classes. One reason may be that it takes a sharp-eyed teacher and individualized attention to tell if a student is engaging his or her abdominal muscles. But as we all know, core strength and stability are essential to a yoga practice. It's what helps you stand in balance poses, kick up into inversions, and hover in arm balances. Plus, it helps protect your back in almost any activity you do, on or off the mat.

It's a good idea to revisit this sequence from time to time, or incorporate parts of it into a regular home practice. As you become more familiar with the poses, avoid the tendency to switch to autopilot. Always bring your A-game (A as in awareness) to yoga, and you'll notice how much more aware you are in life.

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Challenge Tip

You know the old adage that you shouldn't go swimming too soon after a meal? The same holds true for practicing yoga—especially when you're focusing on your core. Practicing on a full stomach is uncomfortable at best and can cause cramps, nausea, or vomiting at worst. Many teachers recommend that you not eat for two to three hours before practicing. If you're afraid of running out of fuel, eat a light snack (yogurt and nuts are good choices) about 30 minutes before hitting the mat.

Today's Recipe: Green Tahini Salad

This hearty salad highlights kale, a dynamo super-food, and can be dressed up with any number of tasty options.

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