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Saluting the sun.

power yoga is an aerobic form of yoga that can serve as a valuable crosstraining exercise. Unlike other forms of yoga, there is no rest period between poses, and the spiritual and meditative components are diminished. If you're looking to increase your strength and flexibility without adding ground-impact forces to your regimen, power yoga can help.

Researchers have recently questioned the safety of some of the more extreme yoga positions, citing injury reports among its adherents. While there is evidence that overstretching can weaken joints in the long term, nothing in the following power yoga sequence qualifies as extreme.

Called the sun salutation, this routine is designed as a pre-run, aerobic warm-up. The series of movements is choreographed and meant to be executed with deep, controlled breathing through the nose (yogic breathing). This sequence should be performed with vigor, ideally sweating throughout as a means of measuring muscle warmth. You can perform these stretches just as easily wearing running shoes on the side of the road as you can barefoot indoors.

Don't worry about getting the breathing exactly right until you become familiar with the postures. It may take you several sessions until you're comfortable performing the sun salutation as a dynamic, continuous routine. Initially, repeat this routine three times before your run, and as you get stronger you may increase to six or even 10 repetitions.

Readying Position. Stand with your feet together, arms at your sides. Do yogic breathing to quiet the mind and center your focus.

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Position 1. Inhale. Bring your arms up over your head, palms together. Tilt your head back and look toward your thumbs. Tighten the thighs and buttocks. Do not arch your back.

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Position 2. Exhale. Bend your knees slightly, bringing your palms to the ground on the outside of each foot. Tuck your head into your knees.

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Position 3. Inhale. While maintaining this position, raise your head, look up, and lift your chest.

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Position 4. Exhale. Walk or jump your legs back, making your body straight like a plank. Drop down into a push-up position.

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Position 5. Inhale. Place the tops of your feet flat on the ground. Lift your torso off the ground with your arms, raise your head, and look up at the sky. Make sure to lift your thighs off the ground.

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Position 6. Exhale. Invert your feet to regain ground contact with the soles of your feet. While also maintaining ground contact with your hands, lift up into an upside-down V. Push your buttocks toward the sky. Hold for five breaths. Push down on your heels--don't worry if they don't touch the ground in the early stages of your yoga practice.

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Position 7. Inhale. Bending your knees, step or jump your feet forward into position 3, with head up.

Position 8. Exhale. Return to position 2.

Position 9. Inhale. Raise your arms and return to position 1.

Position 10. Exhale and return to the readying position.

In a future issue, we'll look at a post-run routine during which you can insert the entire sun salutation to stay warm between positions.

(Adapted from The NYRR Complete Book of Running & Fitness, 4th ed., by Gloria Averbuch, 2004, Random House, New York, NY, 546 pp. $19.95)
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Title Annotation:THE CROSSTRAINING report
Publication:Running & FitNews
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2005
Words:550
Previous Article:Stride right.
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