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The Yoga Pose Less Traveled:
Garland Pose and Incline Plank

Garland Pose
This pose goes by a couple of different Sanskrit names - Namaskarasana is one. It is also known as a variation of Malasana. A lot of instructors, especially those who teach beginning classes, skip the formalities and just call it a Yoga squat. The name isn't important - you just need to know that this is one of the best postures you can offer your body. Westerners do not squat enough. It's one of the reasons our lower bodies becomes so stiff when we age. In the East, even the elderly squat with no problem, and their mobility generally belies their advanced age. Garland Pose gently opens up the hips and inner groins and unless you have knee or hip problems, it should be done frequently to keep those joints supple. If your heels don't reach the floor, you can always place a wedge underneath them to make the pose doable. One of the nicest things about Garland Pose is that you can come out of it into Standing Forward Bend very easily, making for a pleasant transition. If you're a runner, fitness walker, or if you've just finished a leg workout at the gym, this is also a great post-workout stretch - feel free to move your hips around a little to reach all parts of your joints.
(Article continued below.)

Inclined Plank (Purvottanasana)
Everyone knows Plank Pose, which builds arm and core strength. Turn around and do its reverse - Inclined Plank or Plane - and you still build core strength but you get a completely different stretch. In addition to building arm and core strength, Purvottanasana also stretches the shoulders and opens up the chest. Those who practice Ashtanga Yoga are more familiar with this posture, since it's part of the Primary Series, but it's not as common in other Yoga styles. Properly done, this pose engages the whole body, down to your toes. Like all back bending poses, it's exhilarating, but it's nowhere near as difficult to execute as some of the other, more advanced postures.

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