The Dog introduces ankle weights to a classic yoga master pose — the downward- facing dog. The Dog strengthens, stretches, and tones all parts of your body, but especially your rhomboids (the muscles behind your thighs) and hamstrings (the muscles on the back of your legs above the knees). The exercise also improves circulation to your head and chest, which helps you feel strong and mentally awake.

Grab your ankle weights and follow these steps:

1. Get on all fours with your knees directly under your hips and your hands directly below your shoulders. Make sure your fingers are spread wide for support.

2. Pressing through your palms and the balls of your feet, lift your hips, push your thighs backward, press your sitting bones up to the sky, and move your belly in and up until you’re in an upside-down V position. This is the starting position. Your ears should now be between your arms. Stand on the balls of your feet if you can’t stretch your hamstrings far enough to keep your feet flat. If your hamstrings and Achilles tendons are tight, feel free to spread your legs a little farther apart.

3. Inhaling to a count of four, lift your right leg directly behind you toward the ceiling without rotating your hips. Try to keep your leg straight, and square your hips. Press your hands into the floor and keep your elbows straight. If you’re collapsing in your arms, lift up your armpits as if you’re shrugging your shoulders.

4. Exhaling to a count of four, slowly lower your leg to the starting position.

If you feel like your arms are working too hard, bend your knees more, pull your belly in, press into your hands, and move your thighs back. Breathe fully — four counts inhaling and four counts exhaling — as you do this exercise. Alternating legs, perform six to eight repetitions with each leg, pause to rest, and then do six to eight more reps with both legs.

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Categories: Yoga