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Morning pose: King Pigeon

Expert insight:

This pose loosens the hips, opens the heart, strengthens your shoulders and arms, and builds mind-body awareness, says Rika Henry, group fitness instructor at Equinox locations in New York City who teaches yoga. Since it's a backbend, it's also mentally stimulating, making it a nice way to finish your morning practice.

That said, King Pigeon is often poorly executed. People with tight hips and shoulders typically end up in Mermaid pose, Henry says, in which you hook your back foot into the crook of your elbow. This strains the lower back, hips, and knee caps.

To do King Pigeon properly, press your grounded body parts into the mat, keep your hips and shoulders squared, hold the raised foot with one or both hands, and take deep breaths.

The bottom line:

Henry suggests holding King Pigeon for 3 to 5 breaths per side at the end of your flow up to 3 times per week. If the pose isn’t available to you yet, practice Half Pigeon until you’ve built the necessary mobility and flexibility.