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Yoga Poses to Distract You from the Winter Blues

Dancer Pose

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From standing, shift weight onto right leg. Bend left knee and grab the inside of left ankle or foot with left hand. Gently lift left leg and press ankle or foot into hand to open your back. Reach right arm up. Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on other side.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Standing Hand to Foot Variation

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Begin standing. Transfer weight into right foot and hug left knee into chest and then toward left shoulder. Place right hand on right hip for balance. Keeping knee bent, take a hold of the inside of left heel with left hand, or loop a strap around foot. Steady yourself here, then gently extend left leg long, to the left and up, leading with your heel. Reach right arm out and up to the right to counterbalance. Breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Tree with Back Arch

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Standing tall with soft knees, bend left knee and open from hip out to the left. Keeping hip open, place left foot inside right thigh or shin. (You can also place the ball of left foot on the ground with your heel on the inside of your right calf.) Clasp hands behind sacrum and reach them toward the ground. Use each inhale to lift chest a bit higher and roll shoulders back, and each exhale to lengthen through tailbone and lean back a little bit. Stay here for 5 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Bowed Half Moon

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Start in a supported warrior III on right leg with both hands on the ground or blocks underneath shoulders. Keep right fingertips on the ground, or a block, underneath right shoulder. Open left hip on top of right, and open torso toward left. Extend left arm straight up and look toward left fingers. Bend left knee, and take hold of left foot with left hand (if you cannot reach your foot, loop a towel or yoga strap around it), lightly pressing foot into hand to open back, keeping knee in line with hip. Lean back and open chest. Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Handstand with Split Bent Leg Variation

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From a forward fold, press palms firmly into the ground, about a foot and a half in front of feet. Lift left leg toward the ceiling, coming high onto the ball of right foot. Using left leg to lift you, transfer weight onto hands or take little hops off right foot until you are upside down or against the wall, keeping legs split. Engage shoulder blades down and together on your back, and press into fingertips for extra energy. (Tip: Split-legged handstand is usually a bit easier than one with both legs straight. Think of your legs as the pole that the person on a tightrope holds: They help balance you!) Stay here for 5 deep breaths—or work your way up to that—and then repeat on the other side.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Low Side Lunge Variation

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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 bum low to the ground. Right knee will be in a half Malasana squat. Flex left foot so toes point toward the ceiling. Reach right arm long and in front of right leg with palm and ground, and left arm up to ceiling. Look up beyond left fingertips. Open through chest and breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Low Lunge Variation

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Start in down dog. Round right knee toward nose, and step right foot in between hands. Lower back knee down to the ground. Crawl hands up onto right thigh, bringing spine upright. Once you are comfortable here, if it feels okay, reach fingers toward the ground and slightly behind hips with arms long, reach shoulder blades together, and reach chest up and back. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Fish Pose

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Sit with legs long and in front of you. Bring hands—palms on ground, fingertips facing forward—under butt, reaching elbows toward one another. Bend elbows, release forearms to the ground and lean into them, keep them parallel to one another. Lift your chest up toward the ceiling so that your back is arched. Allow head to relax down toward the ground. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

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