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Find balance and strength in Downward Duck

Shoot the Duck is a figure skating manoeuvre in which one travels forward or backward in a squatted position with a leg held forward, parallel to the ice. It is a close cousin of the Pistol Squat from fitness circles and yoga’s Hasta Padangusthasana. Our version, dubbed Downward Duck, is a dynamic balancing exercise that strengthens the outer hip, quads, knees and ankles. It also stretches the posterior body and improves coordination.

Stand tall with your feet side-by-side. Bend your right knee and bring it up to your chest before taking hold of your foot, ankle or leg with both your hands. Straighten the held leg, holding it parallel to the ground, and readjust your hand position to ensure your trunk stays more or less vertical.

Initiate a slow-motion descent by bending your standing leg. Lower with care and control and be prepared to release your lifted leg if you lose your balance. Do your best to keep the heel of your standing leg down and only lower as far as your knees will safely allow. If the ground is too far away for your comfort, consider lowering to a chair or another stable surface.

Stay at the bottom of your squat for as many as five breaths before releasing the held leg and finding your way up to stand. Repeat on the other side.

The Bentway Skate Trail

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The Bentway Skate Trail is Toronto’s newest winter attraction. This 220-metre skating trail breathes new life into the land under the Gardiner Expressway just West of Bathurst St. It takes its name from the iconic concrete pillars — or “bents” — that hold up the Gardiner Expressway. Learn more about the Bentway Skate Trail at thebentway.ca.

YuMee Chung is a recovering lawyer who teaches yoga in Toronto. She is on the faculty of a number of yoga teacher training programs and leads international yoga retreats. Learn more about her at padmani.com


TORONTO STAR