One of the things we love most about winter is that it’s a great time to cross-train — to mix up your training and create balance that will support you when it's go time. Yoga builds functional — practical — flexibility and strength because it works the body as an integrated unit. This, ultimately, helps to optimize your performance in any sport or workout. So, as we head into a new year, embrace the nasty weather outside as an opportunity to roll out your mat inside and set the tone for a balanced 2015.

You might be familiar with Triangle pose. It’s a common yoga pose that stretches the hamstrings, strengthens the core, and improves overall stability. Like most postures, it’s tough to do it safely and effectively without understanding where your body is meant to be in space, what muscles should be lengthening, and what muscles should be working.

The solution? Break that baby down. Triangle’s predecessor, Triangle Prep, will help you create an internal blueprint of the architecture of the pose before you add the challenge of also having to stand and balance.

Try it: Triangle Prep

  • Stand on your knees and extend your left leg out to the side like a kickstand, keeping your left toes pointing forward, and foot flat.
  • Lift your left your toes up and you’ll feel the arch of your foot activate — try to keep it active/lifted even as you set your toes down.
  • Bring your torso down to the right and rest your right hand on the floor or a block — make sure you’re not straining to reach the floor.
  • Extend your left arm up and reach through your fingers so that the arm feels active, as if someone is pulling it toward the ceiling.
  • Your right hand/right knee/left foot should pretty much make a straight line.
  • Now that you’ve got the set up, engage your core and see if you can lengthen your spine more, as if you're creating more space between your ribs and hips.
  • Knit your front ribs together as if you put on a tight vest — then use those engaged core muscles to gently rotate just your rib cage slightly toward the ceiling while keeping everything down below just as it is.
  • Push down strongly through your left foot and feel your left hamstrings lengthen.
  • Look down and relax your neck/jaw/face.
  • Once you’ve got all that, hold for 5+ deep breaths and feel your body taking an internal snapshot of the pose, which will help you when you progress to full Triangle.

Work this baby at least three times a week and stay tuned for the next step — Triangle — later this month.

Happy cross training!

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