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The Gentle Yoga Warm-Up That Tones Your Abs

04-greenmonkey-7_JustinNamonPhotography by Justin Namon.
Yoga isn't just about stretching, relaxing, and finding total bliss. While asanas including headstand, crow, and bird of paradise all look graceful and beautiful, they also require an incredible amount of strength. And, if you’re like us, you might be a little majorly intimidated by the practice's many tricky arm balances.
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Just as you don’t have to be able to touch your toes to enjoy yoga, you don’t need to be able to bust out a headstand, either. But, when you are ready to kick your practice up a notch, try incorporating arm balances. While the name implies you’ll be using your upper body, the unexpected way to prep for the challenge is by building core strength, explains instructor Heidi Kristoffer. You want your ab muscles to be completely engaged during the balances to help you stay centered.
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Click through to see a video primer of how to integrate arm balances such as crow pose into your everyday practice. And, if you’re not quite ready to try the variations, just enjoy the gentle warm-up that tones your abdominal muscles. (Shape)
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