Strengthen your legs and core and improve circulation with these prep poses for Ubhaya Padangusthasana.
UPAVISTHA KONASANA Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
BENEFITS Increases mobility and circulation in your pelvis; stretches your hamstrings; lengthens your sides
INSTRUCTION A From Down Dog, exhale and step (or jump) forward to sit down. Straighten your legs and flex your feet. Open your straight legs away from one another with toes and knees pointing up. Reach forward to grab the outsides of your feet (bring your legs slightly closer if needed). Lift your torso, straighten your arms, draw the outer edges of your feet back, and ground through your outer knees, thighs, and hips. At the same time, press through the inside edges of your ankles and feet. On an exhalation, move your torso forward and down toward the floor. Relax your neck. If your head rests on the floor, reach your chin forward and gaze down your nose. Hold for at least 5 breaths. On an inhalation, lengthen your torso away from the floor. On an exhalation, release your feet and sit up. Proceed to B.
INSTRUCTION B Sit tall with your arms outstretched, and lean back slightly until you feel your low belly engage. Inhale, and lift straight legs up to straight arms, grabbing the outside edges of your feet—or slightly bend your knees to connect your hands to your feet, then slowly extend your legs. Keep your legs wide, lift your chest, point your toes, and begin to gaze up. Keep drawing your waist in, breathing up into your chest. Again, hold for at least 5 breaths.
PARSVOTTANASANA Intense Side Stretch Pose
BENEFITS Tones your waist; stretches and strengthens your legs from feet to hips
INSTRUCTION Stand in Samasthiti (Equal Standing Posture). Lift the arches of your feet, spread the balls of your feet, and ground your heels. Lift your knees, thigh muscles, pelvic floor, low belly, and chest. Take your arms in reverse prayer (or grab opposite elbows behind your back). Inhale, and step your right foot behind you (about 3 feet). Turn on your heels to face the back of your mat. Point your right foot straight out in front, and turn your back foot out 60–90 degrees. Square your hips over your right leg. Exhale, and fold at your hips, bringing your head toward your right knee. Gaze at your knee until your head is connected to your leg; once contact is made, gaze at your ankle or big toe. Lengthen your sides and relax your neck. Hold for at least 5 breaths. Inhale to lift your torso, and pivot to the left on your heels to switch sides.
SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA Reclining Hand-to-Big Toe Pose
BENEFITS Strengthens your legs and abdominals; improves circulation in your legs, abdomen, pelvis, and spine
INSTRUCTION From Down Dog, exhale and step (or jump) forward to sit down. Straighten your legs, and lie on your back. Squeeze your legs together, and point your toes. Draw your navel toward your spine. Rest your right hand on your right thigh. Inhale and lift your left leg to meet your left hand. Flex your left foot; hold your left big toe with your second and third fingers and thumb. Exhale, and lift your head and chest to your left leg. Try to draw in at your waist. Hold for at least 5 breaths. On an inhalation, lower your head. On an exhalation, lower your leg. Repeat on the other side.