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Yoga Poses to Boost Your Brain

Looking to keep your cognition sharp and on point? Yoga, based as it is on synchronizing motion and breath, is all about concentration and focus. These poses are especially helpful in that regard.

Mountain

This pose, which serves as the foundation for all of yoga’s standing poses, helps to improve focus while aiding your sense of balance.

1. Stand with your arms at your sides and your feet together. Spread your weight evenly across the arches and the balls of your feet.
2. Press your big toes together, lift your toes and spread them. Then, place the toes back against the mat one at a time.
3. Continue to lift your arches, ankles and thighs slowly as you draw in your core muscles (front, back and sides).
4. Keep your arms at your sides with your palms facing, but not touching, your legs, fingers straight and reaching for the ground—you should feel a sense of energy in your hands.
5. As you inhale, feel your heart lifting; as you exhale, feel your shoulder blades roll down your back.

    Tree

    As a one-legged pose, Tree takes concentration. It also improves balance while strengthening your core and legs.

    1. Start in Mountain Pose and bring your hands to meet in prayer position in front of your heart.
    2. Shift your weight into one foot, pressing into the big toe and tightening your core.
    3. Lift the heel of the other foot and turn the foot outward, opening the groin, and bring that foot to the ankle of the standing foot.
    4. When you feel balanced, lift the turned foot to the side of the calf or the thigh—do not place the foot on the knee.
    5. If you can, lift your arms above your head for several breaths before bringing them back to prayer position.
    6. Release from the pose and repeat on the other side.

      Eagle

      Like Tree, Eagle takes a bit of concentration to get into. It also enhances balance while strengthening the ankles and calves.

      1. Start in Mountain; focus on a point on the floor in front of you (not straight down).
      2. Raise your left knee, then bend the right knee and cross the left leg around the right leg, hooking your left foot on the side of the right leg.
      3. Lower your body into a sitting position, then open your arms out wide and cross your right elbow beneath your left, bringing your palms to touch. (If you can’t get them to touch, don’t force—just get as close as you can).
      4. Lift through the arms to maintain your balance. After five deep breaths, return to Mountain and repeat on the other side.

        Dancer

        As both a one-legged pose and a backbend, Dancer is all about concentration. This pose is also good for maintaining a flexible spine and stretching the entire front of the body.

        1. Start in Mountain, focusing on a point on the opposite wall.
        2. Shift your weight to your right foot, keeping the leg straight. Then breathe in and lift the left foot behind you, knee bent, toes pointing up and heel pointing towards your left buttock.
        3. Keeping your torso straight, grasp your left foot with your left hand from the outside. Straighten your right arm in front of you.
        4. Lift your left foot away and back. Your left thigh should be parallel to the floor.
        5. Hold for about 20 seconds before bringing your right arm back into your body and releasing your left foot to the floor. Repeat on the other side.

          Warrior III

          In addition to aiding focus, this pose also strengthens the legs, glutes and core while toning the entire body.

          1. Start in Mountain, then step one foot ahead about a foot’s length, and spread the toes of that foot wide to build a strong foundation.
          2. Inhale your arms over your head, interlacing your fingers with the index fingers pointing up.
          3. While exhaling, lift the back leg by hinging at the hips. Be sure to keep the back foot pointed downward and the hips level, and to keep a straight line from the raised heel forward through the crown of the head.
          4. Looking at a specific point on the floor for balance, extend your arms forward past your head, fingers spread.
          5. Support your lower back by pulling in your navel.
          6. To come out of the pose, inhale to release the back foot down to the floor and the arms overhead before stepping the feet back together. Repeat on the other side.

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            **These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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