Yoga Journal - - CONTENTS - By Amy Ip­politi

Open your hips and ham­strings as you move from Supta Padan­gusthasana to Ardha Chan­dra Cha­pasana with Amy Ip­politi, co-founder of 90 Mon­keys.

BEN­E­FITS Safely opens the ham­strings and re­leases the lower back when per­formed with a healthy lum­bar curve


1 Lie on your back with your legs to­gether, feet flexed, as if stand­ing in Tadasana (Moun­tain Pose). Breathe steadily.

2 An­chor your in­ner thighs to­ward the floor; arch your lower back away from the floor enough so that you can pass your hand un­der the small of your back.

3 With­out flat­ten­ing the curve in your lower back, bend your left knee and lift it into your chest. Hold your left thigh with both hands clasped near your knee. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, an­chor your right in­ner thigh to the mat to help keep the lum­bar curve. Push­ing your left thigh away from your chest can help main­tain the curve as well.

4 Start to straighten your left leg to­ward the ceil­ing. If it trem­bles or if you can’t straighten it eas­ily, use a strap around the arch of your foot and po­si­tion your leg far­ther away from you so you can straighten it with­out strain (see this and ad­di­tional mod­i­fi­ca­tions on page 56). Keep the mus­cles in both legs en­gaged and strong.

5 Test your ham­string flex­i­bil­ity by draw­ing your leg closer to your chest, keeping it straight while main­tain­ing a nat­u­ral lum­bar curve in your low back. If your back be­gins to flat­ten, you’ve reached your edge and should back off slightly. Hold this pose for 5 breaths, and then slowly re­lease your left leg to the floor; re­peat on the other side.

Supta Padan­gusthasana Supta = Re­clin­ing á Pada = Foot An­gusta = Big toe á Asana = Pose Re­clin­ing Hand-to-Big Toe Pose

DON’T flat­ten your lum­bar curve or press your lower spine into the mat. Do­ing so re­duces the stretch in your ham­strings and may cause a flat­ten­ing of your lum­bar spine over time, which is un­healthy for your lower back.

DON’T per­form the pose with your top leg bent, which min­i­mizes the stretch in your ham­string. In­stead, move your leg away from you un­til you can straighten it com­fort­ably.

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