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Six Yoga Poses for Strength, Power and Agility

To nail a heavy squat, sprint your fastest or weave effortlessly through the defence on the court, all your muscles need to be ready to jump into action. Yoga can help prime them for that, says Nike Master Trainer Branden Collinsworth. "Most athletes are overdeveloped or tight in certain areas—their hips, chest and shoulders—and smaller muscles get neglected", Collinsworth says. "Yoga stretches those overworked spots and engages the supporting muscles that help all the other muscles do their job; this builds strength, power and agility".

Take your performance to the next level with the six poses below. Use them as a warm-up for your strength or cardio workouts, or as a quick, stand-alone session.

1. Mālāsana Squat

Muscles worked: glutes, lower back, hips, abs, quads, hamstrings

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and slowly squat, driving hips back and knees out while keeping weight in your heels and torso upright. Go as low as you can with good form. Press palms together and elbows against inner thighs. Hold the pose for up to one minute.

2. Bridge

Muscles worked: shoulders, glutes, abs, hips, hamstrings

To start, lie face-up with your legs bent, feet hip-width apart and flat, and arms extended by your sides so fingertips graze your heels. Lift your hips as high as you can and pull your shoulder blades together so that you can interlace your fingers underneath your legs. Hold the pose for up to one minute.

3. Warrior II

Muscles worked: shoulders, glutes, hips, outer thighs

Stand with your feet wide. Turn one foot out 90 degrees, then bend that leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor (without driving your knee past your toes). Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height with palms facing down. Direct your gaze over the bent leg. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Switch sides and repeat.

4. Tree Pose

Muscles worked: lower back, abs, glutes, hips, calves

Stand with feet together and press your palms together in front of your chest. Slowly shift your weight onto one foot and lift your opposite knee towards your chest. Grab the ankle of the lifted leg and put the sole of the foot on the inside of your standing leg's thigh or calf. To maintain balance, find a spot in front of you to focus on. To advance the pose, extend both arms overhead or close your eyes. Hold up to one minute. Switch sides and repeat.

5. Eagle Pose

Muscles worked: shoulders, glutes, hips, thighs, calves

Stand with knees soft, arms at sides. With your weight on your left foot, lift your right leg and cross it over your left, hooking your right foot around your left calf. Lift your arms in front of you and cross the left arm over the right. Bend your arms and bring your palms together. Lift your intertwined arms as high as you can while keeping your shoulder blades down and back. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Switch sides and repeat.

6. Pigeon Pose

Muscles worked: glutes, hips

Sit on the floor, then extend one leg behind you and bend the opposite leg in front of you so that your shin is perpendicular to your body. Keeping your torso lifted, let your hips sink towards the floor as far as they can go (beginners may want to brace on their hands for added support). Depending on your flexibility, you can stay there or walk your hands forward to bring your chest over your front leg. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to three minutes. Switch sides and repeat.

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