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Have you ever looked at someone and just wondered are they even human?

I have seen some people do some incredibly difficult positions and moves and wonder how that does not hurt. I had no idea that a person could bend all the way between their legs, but apparantly it is a very possible thing to do!

It can be very intimidating when you are a beginner at yoga, and the first things you see when you walk in is someone doing the full-blown splits. It can make you feel like you don't belong because there is no way that you can ever conquer that move. Wrong!

I'll be frank and say that some people are just born to be flexible, and others just need to work a little bit harder in order to achieve the same results. However, don't think that those naturally flexible people have it easy. They still have some challenges to overcome, just like how you are trying to conquer this one! Some of the people that you see that you think are just naturally bendy really aren't... they had to put in a lot of work to get into that kind of shape.

The key to obtaining these results are consistency and focus. You can't just give up one time after trying and failing. You need to give yourself more credit than that.

I know that you can reach your goals, and I also know that it can feel super overwhelming at first. I had no idea what yoga poses were going to work for me whenever I first started out, and I had not idea which one were going to work towards my goal of increasing my flexibility. 

I have my top three poses that I do every morning in order to increase my flexibiliy, stretch myself out from a good nights sleep, and wake myself up to conquer another beautiful day in the middle of a pandemic.

Pigeon (Kapotasana)

Pigeon Pose is great for stretching your hip flexors, and it is also a great way to relieve tension throughout your body.

How to do Pigeon Pose:

1. Start in Downward Facing Dog, then lift your right leg into the air.

2. Crunch your right leg into your center and then slide it to the back of your right wrist.

3. The further forward you push your foot (making your leg parallel to your mat), the deeper the hip stretch will be, so adjust to what is comfortable for your body. Make sure to keep your right foot flexed to protect your knee.

4. Your back toes should be untucked with your left leg resting on the ground, rotated inward.

5. Place your hands on either side of your legs and take a second to make sure you are distributing your weight evenly between both hips.

6. You can choose to stay here with your arms by your ears, on the floor next to your hips, or for a deeper stretch, you can slowly fold forward 

Modifications: If you are unable to go into the full Pigeon Pose, you may need to angle your legs a little less intense until you can fully relax into it.

Cow Face Forward Bend (Adho Mukha Gomukhasana)

This pose gives a nice deep stretch to your hips, and is a great pose for those suffering from sciatica. 

You can choose to bind your arms, or just simply place your hands on the ground in front of you as you fold. The key here is the legs.

How to do Cow Face Forward Bend:

1. Start in a seated Staff Pose position.

2. Cross your right leg over your left and then bend both knees and slide both feet back towards your hips.

3. Your right knee should be stacked on top of your left now.

4. Sit tall and place you hands by your sides. At this time you can choose to clasp your hands behind your back, or you can slide them in front of your legs and you slowly fold over your legs.

5. You will feel a deep stretch in one of your hips. Make sure to repeat this pose on the opposite side to maintain balance in your body.

Modifications: Do not feel the need to bind your arms, you can simply bring them out in front of you. Also, if your hips are too tight, you may not be able to stack your knees onto one another. In that case, try stacking your calves and work your way up.

Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

This is porbably my all time favorite pose to do, especially when my hips are feeling a little extra tight. You can feel the stretch working instantly, and the best part is that you get to control the severity of the stretch.

How to do Crescent Lunge:

1. Start on your knees, then bring your left leg forward with your foot flat on the ground. Untuck your back toes.

2. With control lift your arms overhead as you start to push your hips forward, sinking into your left knee.

3. As you do this, slightly arch your back and lift through your chest.

4. If this is too much for you, try placing both hands on your left knee and using them to slowly push forward.

5. Make sure to repeat this stretch on the other side. Remember, take it slow and breathe into the discomfort to release all of your tension!

Modifications: Place your hands on your front knee to increase stability and allow yourself to have better control over the stretch.

I hope that you will do these poses every morning, or even just when you are feeling stressed out from school, your job, or having to deal with anti-maskers. Remember, don't give up and just keep going because you will reach your goals one day.

Gabrielle Gray

Murray State '22

Gabrielle Gray is currently a senior at Murray State University majoring in Elementary Education.Other than attending classes, you can find her drinking coffee at Shaffer Coffee Co., eating sushi from Market 22 in the Curris Center, or helping out around the university. Gabrielle is heavily involved at Murray State University by being one of the College of Education and Human Services senators for the 2020-2021 academic year for the Murray State University Student Government Association, volunteering for events being held around campus, as well as being a social butterfly. Check her out this Fall at the Springer housing desk, or when she occasionally works at her second home: Dan's Southern Prep.
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