Get Fit with Shannon
Shannon Kidwell

Whether looking to de-stress from your hectic life as a real estate agent or hoping to tone up before the feasting of the holiday season begins, Orlando, Fla.-based yoga instructor Shannon Kidwell has been a practitioner for 16 years and is ready to help you find your flow with these 9 yoga poses.

Spinal Balance
Key benefits: Decompresses spine; builds core strength and stability
• Position body on all fours, keeping your lines straight with hands and knees stacked under shoulders and hips
• Stretch your left leg and right arm away from the center of the core, keeping your abdomen and lower rib cage pulled in
• Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with the opposite limbs

Downward Facing Dog
Key benefits: Strengthens hamstrings, shoulders, and core; lengthens spine
• Start in a push up position or high plank, with hands underneath the shoulders, arms and legs straight, knees lifted, and high on the toes
• Lift hips to create an upside-down V shape as you lean back, shifting weight to your toes
• Hold for 45 seconds

Modified Low Lunge
Key benefits: Stabilizes lower body joints; stretches hips
• From downward-facing dog, step the right foot forward between hands, planting the foot underneath the knee
• Lower left knee to the floor and slide leg back to stretch the thigh
• Lift torso upright, bringing the shoulders over the hips
• With a sweep of the arms, reach above head
• As you lunge forward, feel the thigh bones lowering as the ribcage lifts away from the hips
• Hold position for 30 to 45 seconds
• A variation of this pose has the rear knee not touching the ground

Bow Pose
Key benefits: Stretches whole front line of body, including chest, abdomen, hips, and thighs
• Lay on stomach and bend both knees
• Reach hands back and firmly grip ankles with thumbs facing down
• Lift chest and ribcage off floor while extending legs up and back
• Hold and breathe for 30 to 45 seconds
• Rest for the same amount of time
• Repeat twice
• Note: Make sure glutes are relaxed, as clenching can cause pain

Warrior One
Key benefit: Improves poor posture
• Stand with feet hip-distance  apart, arms at your side
• Twist to the left as you step left foot forward and right foot back
• Bend the left knee over the left ankle, keeping foot facing forward
• Keep right leg straight with foot turned out 90 degrees
• As you reach the arms up beside the ears, feel them stretching upward, lifting the chest and ribcage, lengthening all the sides of the waist
• Tilt head back and spread shoulders wide across the back
• Hold for 1 minute
• Note: Because this pose is a backbend, be sure to keep the hips and glutes relaxed

Warrior Two
Key benefits: Strengthens legs and core; stabilizes ankles, knees, and hips
• While standing, stretch out one arm in front of you and one behind you
• Stretch out legs the same way, aligning ankles with wrists
• Bend the front knee to a 90-degree angle
• Keep the back leg straight
• Stay lifted through the core
• Hold for 45 seconds, then do the other side

Tree Pose
Key benefits: Balances and stabilizes the body; strengthens core, oblique, and pelvic muscles
Stand with feet together, arms at side
• Shift weight to left foot and bend right knee, planting sole of right foot against inner left thigh
• Press palms together in prayer position at chest
• Fix gaze on an unmoving point in front of you
• Extend arms overhead, reaching fingers to the sky
• Hold for 1 minute, then repeat on opposite side

Boat Pose
Key benefit: Strengthens core
From an upright seated position with knees bent, place hands under thighs
• Rock back on your hips and lift feet, keeping shins parallel to the floor
• Keep your chest lifted as high as you can
• Hold position for 30 to 45 seconds

Pigeon Pose
Key benefits: Relaxes lower back and hip muscles; increases range of motion in hip joints
• From a high plank position, bring the right knee to the right wrist and slide toes to the left
• Lower your body to the floor, making sure there’s no tension around the knees; relax when all the way down
• Hold position for 1 minute
• Repeat on the other side

All photos by Betsy Hansen