Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
This pose opens the hips and stretches the hamstrings.
Turn to the right and step your feet about a leg's length apart. Turn your heels slightly out and your toes slightly in. (Imagine you're slightly pigeon-toed.) Inhale and stand tall and stretch your arms out to a T (not pictured). Exhale and fold forward, taking your hands to the floor or a yoga block. Allow your head to hang down, straightening your spine. Gaze past the end of your nose. After five breaths, inhale as you roll up slowly, engaging your abs and pressing in to your feet to help you rise. Exhale and step your feet together. TIP: Keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight. If you straighten your legs, take care not to lock your knees. For a deeper stretch, engage the quadriceps by lifting up on your kneecap.
Standing Forward Fold with "Ragdoll" Arms (Uttanasana)
Stretch the hamstrings and straighten the spine with this pose.
Inhale and take your hands to your hips as you step your feet hips' width apart. Exhale and fold forward. If you can straighten your legs in this pose, grasp each elbow with the opposite hand. If you can't straighten your legs or if you need more support, place your hands on a yoga block or a chair (not pictured). Allow your head to hang down limply like a ragdoll, straightening your spine. Gaze past the end of your nose. TIP: Keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight. If you straighten your legs, take care not to lock your knees. For a deeper stretch, engage the quadriceps by lifting up on your kneecap.
Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)
Pyramid pose stretches and strengthens the legs, particularly the hamstrings.
Step your left foot back about 3 feet. Your left toes will pivot in at a 45 degree angle. Your right foot faces forward. Inhale and stand tall and lean out over the front foot. Drop your hands to your shin, a yoga block (pictured) or on either side of your front foot. Drop your forehead so it's facing your leg. With every inhale, feel your spine growing longer (imagine the crown of your head reaching to the floor); with every exhale, allow the body to sink lower (the forehead is getting closer to the front leg). To come up, inhale and roll up slowly, pressing into your front foot for support. Repeat on the other side for five breaths. TIP: For a deeper stretch, interlace the fingers behind your back and roll the shoulders back and down before leaning forward.
Article created on: 11/1/2011