This pose can teach you one of the basic yoga principles: how to breathe and relax into a pose. It’s a passive stretch and quite relaxing if you just let gravity and the breath help you gently extend your boundaries.
- Sit with your legs extended.
- Bend your right knee to the side and place the sole of your foot against the inside of your upper left thigh.
- Raise your arms to shoulder level.
- Inhale and lean back slightly, lengthening your spine as you raise your arms above your head.
- Exhale and stretch forward, bending from the hips. Take hold of your ankle or shin, keeping your elbows bent and your shoulders relaxed.
- Lower your torso toward your leg, bringing your elbows toward the floor and your head to your shin if comfortable. Contract your left thigh muscle and press the back of your knee down. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds with normal breathing.
- Exhale completely, then inhale as you lift your head, neck, shoulders, and back. Repeat on the other side, then relax.
Relax your torso downward. Extend your spine gently forward with the inhalation; let gravity draw it down with the exhalation. Take it slowly, giving your body time to release into the stretch.
Don’t hunch your shoulders trying to reach your ankle. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows bent, even if you can’t reach beyond your knee.
Make It Easier
- If your hamstrings are very tight, just bend forward slightly, keeping your spine straight. This is the position described in Step 5.
- To help rotate your pelvis forward, sit on the edge of a firm cushion.
- Bend the knee of your extended leg slightly.
- Tones the liver, spleen, and kidneys
- Aids digestion
- Tones the reproductive organs
- Stretches and tones the spine and hamstrings
- Loosens the hips
- Tones the abdominal organs
- Helps reduce stress, headaches, and anxiety