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Maintaining a feeling of youth, even as you age, requires a flexible spine. Try this sequence to open your back and shoulders.
Begin and end by chanting Om, and keep the sound of it going mentally with each pose. Warm up your spine by moving it forward, backward, sideways, and into twists, synching up your breath with the movement. With the sequence, modify until your body feels ready for deep backbends. Practice slides 2–6 twice, switching legs for the second round.
Mountain Pose to Wide-Legged Raised-Arm Mountain Pose
Tadasana to Hasta Prasarita Tadasana
1 minute, 8–10 breaths
Build heat with jumping jacks. Start in Mountain Pose, with your arms by your sides and your palms resting against the outsides of your legs. Inhale to swing the arms up and clap the palms overhead while jumping the feet out wide. Exhale to move back to Mountain Pose. Continue, breathing exclusively through the nose.
See also Work It: Mountain Pose
Mountain Pose, variation
30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each time
From Mountain Pose, interlace your fingers behind your back. Squeeze your buttocks, shoulder blades, and forearms together. Push your pelvis and hands away from each other and bring your chin toward your chest. Gaze up while holding the pose and try to let the breath find its own natural rhythm. Inhale to come back to Tadasana, but keep your fingers interlaced.
Toppling Tree Pose
30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each side
Bend forward until your belly touches your left thigh. Try to maintain a backbend. Then slowly raise your right leg, both arms, and your head. Point your right toes, gaze at the ground about four feet ahead of the left toes, and concentrate on finding stillness.
See also Find Your Roots in Tree Pose
Monkey Pose, variation
30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each side.
From Toppling Tree Pose, bend your left knee and gently lower your right foot and knee to the floor, coming into a Low Lunge. Exhale to release your hands. Reach your left arm out to the side then bend your elbow until your left hand is between your shoulder blades, with the palm facing out. Raise your right arm overhead and bend the elbow. Reach down and hook the left fingers with the right, pressing the back of the head against the right arm. Stay still, gaze up, and stretch.
See also Moving Toward Monkey Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose, variation
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, variation
1 minute, 8–10 breaths, each side
Release your arms and bring them parallel to the ground. Shift your hips back and move your left foot in so your left shin, left thigh, right thigh, and the floor create a square. Place your right upper arm against the outer left thigh. Push your palms together and twist from the base of the spine through the crown of the head. Turn your face up and stay still. Exhale to release the twist. If ending here, return to Mountain Pose after the first round.