Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
Sure, yoga can help you tone up and trim down, but did you know it can also help your ticker? Take a moment to celebrate American Heart Month with a heart-healthy back bend. It'll give your core a good workout too!


Begin on your back with your arms down by your sides, knees bent. Keep your feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart and parallel. Press down on the inner edges of your feet as a way of hugging the inner thighs toward the midline, then lift your hips. Interlace your fingers underneath your hips and squeeze your arms as straight as your can.

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I recommend tilting to one side and then the other as you draw the shoulder blades together underneath you. This will help expand and open your chest, creating space in the heart's center for your blood to flow and your breath to travel. Be careful not to pull the shoulders too far away from the ears—that can put strain on your neck. Avoid overstretching your neck by lifting your chin just slightly and smiling. This will soften the intensity of the pose, ensuring that you're opening up your heart, not just getting a good stretch.