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Show off your flexibility with Bird of Paradise: Yoga Moves


Bird of Paradise is a showy balancing pose that requires equal measures of poise and flexibility as you effectively bind a standing version of the splits. Luckily, the National Ballet of Canada’s principal dancer Heather Ogden is here to demonstrate this bird-inspired yoga pose in honour of the 140th anniversary of Swan Lake.

1. Before you begin, warm up your body with Sun Salutations and a few hamstring stretches.

2. Then, stand in a forward bend with your feet set just wider than hip-distance apart.

3. Bend both your knees before passing the right hand between your legs and pressing the wedge formed by the index finger and thumb against your right calf to wiggle the right shoulder behind the fold of the knee.

4. Once the shoulder is nested behind the knee, bring the back of the right hand to the outer right hip and use those fingers to clasp the opposite fingers or wrist.

5. Narrow the feet to hip-distance apart and pour your weight over the left foot as you bend your knees and lift onto your right toes.

6. Float the right foot above the earth and push strongly into your grounded foot to bring yourself up to stand. Take your time and be patient as you seek to get airborne.

7. Once the torso is upright, straighten your standing leg and consider mindfully opening up the angle of the right knee if your inner hamstrings permit it.

8. Gaze ahead with soft eyes and dance your balance for five breaths before re-bending the bound leg and returning the foot to the ground.

9. Switch sides.

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