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I’m about to put in writing (on the internet no less!) what may be an incredibly unpopular opinion coming from a yogi: I really, really dislike cat-cow pose. Yes, I’m aware that the asana—which is basically a mainstay in every variety of practice—is A+ for your spine.  And yep, I even know that the move strengthens your pelvic floor muscles. For whatever reason though, I’ve found myself with a serious case of feline/bovine fatigue.

Flashback to this morning’s IG catchup, when my endless scrolling led me to what may well be an antidote (or what yoga-lovers like to call a variation) to my #yogaprobs. On her feed, yoga teacher and physical therapist Lara Heimann shared a three-step core burnout that’s basically begging to be tacked on to the end of the old school cat-cow combo. So go ahead and roll out your mat. Even if you aren’t as over the asanas as I am, consider this tweak a level-up for your midsection.

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The shoulders are highly mobile and rely on foundational stabilization at the scapulae. Scapulae stabilizers keep the joint healthy and mobile. Yesterday I posted a tip for helping my husband not experience the pinching discomfort that he had been feeling while lifting his arm. The root muscles of the shoulder help to stabilize, spin and secure the head of the arm bone as it moves and as we put weight through the hands . As you try this sequence, imagine various muscles, like roots, holding the scapula on the ribcage and in turn, helping the head of the arm bone spin securely in the “socket”. For anyone needing more security in the scapular stabilizers, this is for YOU!! Don’t, I repeat , Do not pick up your hand or hands during the sequence. Not even a smidge. Happy rooting! 🚀 And this fabulous attire is by the amazing @withlovepeach ! It feels as incredible as it looks. Thank you, @fdejeanpeach ❤️ #igyoga #scapularstability #shoulders #shoulderworkout #physicaltherapy #igyoga #functionaltraining #shoulderhealth

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Step 1: “Start on all fours with the knees directly under the hips. Puff up between the shoulder blades a few times. And then drag the shoulder blades towards the hips without letting the ribs pop down,” instructs Heimann. According to the pro, pushing into the floor with your legs and hands in cat pose cues all your muscles to stabilize and activate. (Read: Core on fire.)

Step 2: Next, open up to the right side so that you’re in a modified side plank with your left shin still on the mat, and the right leg floating in a vertical line. “The core’s biggest responsibility is to give the torso support as the limbs move,” the instructor explains. To make sure your muscles are super engaged, think of drawing your left shoulder blade in toward your left ribs

Step 3: Bring your right foot behind your right hand, and your left foot behind your left hand so you’re in a low squatting position. Return back to modified side plank, and repeat the plank to squat transition as many times as you want.

Step 4: For a final burn, move back into a side plank on your left side, and come into a twist by bringing your toes to face three o’clock on your mat. “Twisting activates the obliques, which interlock with the serratus anterior, one of the most important scapulae muscles,” says Heimann

Repeat the whole sequence on the opposite side.

Now let’s talk mats. These 6 super compact options make the perfect travel companions and this one won’t let you fall—even in the steamiest of classes. 

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