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Standing Forward BendThe standing forward bend increases circulation and strengthens the heart while stretching the lower back and hamstrings. It also activates the pineal and pituitary glands, and releases serotonin. To do it, stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Exhale and bend forward from the hips, stretching the top of the head toward the floor. Put your palms on the floor or rest them on your shins or ankles. Press feet into the floor and feel the stretch in the back of the legs and lower back. Hold for three to five breaths. Place hands on hips or walk hands up the legs as you slowly roll up to a standing position. Repeat two times.
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Bridge PoseThe bridge pose helps counter your daily forward hunch, stretches the muscles around the heart, and improves lung capacity. It also strengthens abdominals and quads while increasing spinal mobility, and calms and balances mind and body. To do it, lie on your back, feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart, and arms by your sides, palms down. As you inhale, lift the hips and your back off the floor, creating one long line with the hips, knees, and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds or six to eight deep breaths. Gently lower the spine back down. Repeat two or three times.
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Plough PoseThe plough pose uses gravity to stimulate blood flow, which helps to oxygenate the body and bring blood back to the heart and lungs. Also stretches the lower back and hamstrings. To do it, lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. With your arms beside you and palms flat on the ground, curl your knees in toward your chest. Then, pressing down with your palms, lift your hips and roll onto the tops of your shoulders/upper back, bringing your legs up and over your head, then behind you. (If your legs don't reach the ground, rest them on a bolster or chair behind you.) Hold for three to five breaths.
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Power-Down BreathThe power-down breath reduces stress and helps clear negative emotions that have an impact on your health -- and your heart. To do it, sit in a chair or on the floor and place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Inhale through your nose and let your lower belly expand, then your middle chest, and finally the top of your lungs. Hold for a moment, then release slowly through the mouth in reverse order: first from the top of your lungs, then the middle, then contracting your lower belly to expel all of your breath. Pause, then repeat eight to10 times, followed by two minutes of even breathing.
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