Strike a Pose

Power yoga

Warrior I

Warrior I (5-8 breaths)     Photo: Sean Dungan

For this month's Shape-of-Your-Life regimen, you'll incorporate power yoga into your Monday through Friday workout schedule with the poses illustrated in the sidebar. We've provided instructions for each pose, but to get started on the right foot, we recommend that you sign up for one 60- to 90-minute introductory yoga class per week for the first month. You can likely find a decent class at your local gym or health club, but chances are you'll discover the expert teachers at dedicated yoga studios (ask around, and check the Yellow Pages or the Internet). Consulting an experienced instructor isn't mandatory, but he or she will ensure that your form is correct and provide you with alternative poses if you have lower back injuries or other problem areas.

Done correctly, our 20- to 30-minute Ashtanga series will work as a flexibility-enhancing cooldown to your continuing heart-rate endurance work three days per week. Meanwhile, to allow your body the periodized break it needs to learn to stretch, your functional-strength training is slightly curtailed this month—a strategy that will also help to get you rested for month four's speed and power plan. Which is the best reason to start yoga now: You'll build maximum flexibility in the ligaments and tendons, giving your muscles more room to perform. "It's like your body is your tennis racket," says Hamilton, "and you're giving it a bigger sweet spot."

WARRIOR [5-8 Breaths]
Start standing and inhale while stepping your left leg into a forward lunge with your left knee directly over your ankle. Exhale, keep your back heel on the floor, rotate your hips forward, try to get your left quadricep parallel to the ground, and raise your arms to the sky.

TRIANGLE POSE [5-8 Breaths]
While standing, place your right leg in front of you, keeping both legs straight and your back foot turned out 30 degrees. Inhale, raise both arms straight to the sides; exhale and bend down so your right arm rests on your right shin. Lift your left arm to the sky and turn your head to focus on your left palm.

TREE POSE [5-8 Breaths]
Standing with your feet together, inhale, use your hand to lift your left leg up, and exhale, placing the sole of your left foot on the inside of the right thigh above the knee. Inhale, lift your arms above you, and turn your left knee outward to open your hip. Too hard? Try starting with your left foot on your right calf.

BOAT POSE [5-8 Breaths]
Sitting with your legs bent in front of you and your back straight, exhale as you lean your weight back, and lift your legs out straight at a 45-degree angle to the floor. If you're unable to straighten your legs, keep your knees bent, and grasp your legs just above your knees.

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