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.