Letterhead can be Presidential, china can be Presidential and so too can yoga be Presidential. In fact, if we assembled the premiere candidates before us on yoga mats and offered them poses that would help them gain insight into what it takes to lead to the best of their ability as well as feel physically agile and mentally more acute, this is what we would prescribe. Check out some of the other candidates' assignments, like Biden's Willpower Workshop, Om-ing For Obama and Anti-Aging Asana for John McCain
We have a major soft spot for runners and when Sarah Palin came forward on Charlie Rose saying she admired the philosopher, runner and essayist Dr. George Sheehan we knew we had found common ground. Plus our sources at runnersworld.com told us that she has completed a marathon so we gave her some props for that as well. That one can hit the road and with little else beyond an iPod and make tracks for an hour plus (or a fraction of that) is more discipline than most of us muster when we diet in January. But speaking of making tracks, it seems Palin did so as governor (and literally with drills) of Alaska and hopes to put her foot down in Washington too. We thought, if you are going to run the race of your life where there is a sprint to the finish, besides your "First Dude" being at the finish line, you need to do some yoga to avoid injury, stay strong and gain endurance, not to mention perspective. You could say the same for a Presidential race too couldn't you?
Before all is said and done, we also want to offer the young Republican Palins their share of prenatal yoga. Not only does a routine with deep squats open the pelvis and encourage quicker labor; it relieves expectant mothers of back pain. As the Palins proliferate we would love to see them model the example that "Families that stretch together, stay together." We at least pray Palin and yoga can pair up for life. She will no doubt find, it does a "regular gal" and every roadrunner good.
For these stretches, you'll need a strap of some sort, a block, and a thick blanket or towel.
1) Supine Tie Stretches
Stretch this: Hamstring, IT Band
Use this: Strap
If you've got a broad range of motion you might be able to forgo the strap by using your index and middle finger to hold your big toe, but using the strap allows everyone to stretch while letting the shoulders, head, and neck relax on the floor - a welcome break after a long run, says Sam Chase, a certified Professional Level Kripalu Yoga Teacher with a private yoga practice in New York who leads corporate programs for the United Nations and Equinox gym."
1. Lay on your back, right lef extended toward the sky holding onto the strap looped around the foot around the arch.
2. With the leg at center, a pull on the strap stretches the hamstring directly.
3. Putting both ends of the strap into the right hand and opening the leg to the right side shifts the focus to the adductor and the interior muscles of the thigh.
4. Switching both ends of the strap into the left hand and opening the leg to the left side while allowing the hips to twist shifts the focus to the exterior muscles of the hip and thigh, specifically the IT band.
5. Stay 1-2 minutes in each position with a pull strong enough that you can feel a sense of deep stretch, but not so much as to impese your ability to breathe deeply and rest your focus on the sensation.
6. Repeat to other side.
2) Knee-down Lunge with Wall
Stretch this: Quads, Hip Flexors
Use this: Blanket (We've used a bolster for this shot but you can use a blanket, large couch pillow, or anything thick and cushy to prop up your knee.)
"After a workout, athletes will find that this hones right in on their hips," says Chase.
1. Place the blanket by the wall and kneel facing away from the wall. Place your right knee on the blanket for cushioning with your right shin running vertically up the wall, toes pointing toward the ceiling.
2. With your left knee bent, step the left foot forward about 2 feet away from the wall, enough so that when the left knee is bent, the knee stacks above the ankle.
3. Lift into a lunge with the hands supporting the top of the left thigh. As the hips drop downward, the chest lifts up and opens, and the tail tucks downward between the legs. Imagine your pelvis is a bowl of water. Tucking the tail down is like tipping and pouring the bowl back behind you. When you feel this stretch deepen in the front of the hip, without any lower back discomfort, you're on the right track. It's the action of tucking the tail down that really focuses the stretch the front of the hip and thigh, so that's vital.
4. For more intensity, walk the butt a little closer to the wall, deepening the bend in the right knee.
5. Stay about a minute and repeat other side.
3) Supported Pigeon
Stretch this: Hip flexors, low back
Use this: Blanket or block (If you don't have a block, like we've pictured here, a blanket works equally well.)
"Don't let the prop prevent you from settling deeper into the stretch- if you need more, fold your blanket so it's thinner or even release your hip all the way to the floor. A little support helps the body relax and open, but too much and you'll just end up sitting out on one of the best stretches in your routine!" says Chase.
1. Fold the blanket into a rectangle and place about three feet in front of your right leg. Come into Downward Facing Dog.
2. Bend your right knee, bringing it forward toward your chest.
3. Turn your right knee out to the right, placing your knee on the floor with right knee behind right wrist, right foot behind left wrist.
4. Take your blanket and set it under your right hip.
5. Lower your hips and bring your left knee to the floor, straightening your left leg.
6. Walk your fingertips in front of your hips. Make sure your hips are in line with one another.
7. Lifting your head and chest towards the ceiling, bend forward from your hips. Walk your fingertips forward and rest your elbows on the floor, forearms parallel with each other.
8. Stretch your arms farther in front of you and lower your head to the floor.
9. Hold for 3-5 minutes. Repeat to the left.
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