Heat makes you more flexible. Make the most of the season’s heatwaves by practicing these seven bendy yoga poses. Be sure to warm up, and as always, listen to your body every breath of the way.
Deep Forward Bend
Stand in mountain pose. Take a deep inhale to reach arms up overhead, framing face. Use exhale to engage navel to spine and swan dive over legs with a flat back. Grab hold of ankles, reach elbows towards midline. Use each inhale to lengthen spine, and each exhale to go deeper into the pose, as it feels safe. Press all four corners of both feet into the ground and lift sitz bones toward the ceiling. If it feels safe, straighten legs. Relax head and neck. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
Seated Wide-Legged Forward Fold
2 OF 7
Sit with legs long in front of you. Move legs wide apart. Take hands behind you, lift hips up slightly, and scoot them forward if there’s space—there should be more in the heat than normal. Release hands in front of you to the ground and take a big inhale to lengthen through the spine. On the exhale, start to crawl hands forward, keeping spine long. Come as far forward as your body allows with a long spine, then relax head down toward the ground or prayer your hands. Make a pillow with hands and relax forehead to them (pictured). Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. If after a few breaths, you feel like you can go deeper, slowly come up, take hands behind you, lift hips up slightly, scoot them forward again, and repeat the remaining steps.
3 OF 7
Begin in a wide-leg forward bend with both hands on the ground. Keeping hands on the ground, bend right knee while lengthening left leg and keeping butt low to the ground. Right knee will be in a half Malasana squat. Flex left foot so toes point toward the ceiling. When steady on feet, prayer hands at heart. Roll shoulders away from ears, lean back, and breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
4 OF 7
Begin in low lunge with your right foot forward. Release your left knee to the ground. Walk your hands back as you reach your hips back toward your left heel and lengthen your right leg to runner’s lunge. Fingertips can be tented on the ground or your hands can be on blocks. Breathe here, then slide your right heel forward as far as it feels comfortable. Eventually, your hips will release squarely to the ground. Once steady, reach arms over head with hands in Venus Mudra: clasped with pointer fingers reaching up. Stay in this position for at least 3 deep breaths, then slowly come out of the pose. Repeat on the left.
Fully Bound King Pigeon
5 OF 7
From down dog, sweep right shin forward, toward the front of the mat, but not as parallel to the front of the mat as you would in a forward-bending pigeon. Keep left leg long behind you, toes untucked. Bend left knee, take hold of the left foot, and place foot in crook of left elbow. Reach right arm to the ceiling, bend right elbow, and reach right hand back to clasp left hand. Breathe here. Next, take a strap, loop it around back foot with enough slack to face torso forward, bringing upper arms on either side of head with forearms parallel to the ceiling and hands holding the strap. Slowly, start to crawl hands as close to back foot as they want to get. Stay here, or when possible, take hold of the back foot with both hands and release the strap. Breathe here for at least 5 deep breaths. Come out of the pose very slowly. Repeat on the other side.
Fully Bound King Dancer Pose
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Begin standing at the front of your mat holding a strap. Transfer your weight into your left foot, and, keeping your knees closed, bend your right knee and loop the strap around the top of your right foot. Feel all four corners of your left foot rooting into the ground. Soften through your left knee and breathe. Next, hold the strap in your right hand and, giving yourself slack in the strap, bend your right elbow behind your head and start to lightly press your right foot into the strap, opening the shoulder. Bend your left elbow over and behind your head as well, and grab the strap with that hand. Breathe here. Crawl your hands slowly down the strap toward your foot, one hand at a time, breathing each hand movement along the way. Take hold of the foot with your hands and lightly press your foot up into your hands and away. Drop strap if you like. Breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths, and then come out of the pose as slowly as you came in and repeat on the other side.
Full Wheel Pose, Shoulder Opening Variation
7 OF 7
Lie on back with knees bent and feet on the ground, hip-width apart. Bend elbows and place hands on either side of head, shoulder-width apart with fingers pointing toward shoulders. Pressing into feet and hands equally, lift hips and lengthen arms. Keep pressing into feet through the big toes and reach chest away from feet. To deepen the pose, walk your feet closer to your hands, keeping them parallel to one another. Straighten your arms and press into your big toes to reach your chest beyond your wrists. Breathe here for at least 5 deep breaths.