Level 1: Beginner
- Stretches many areas of the body, including: ankles, calves, hamstrings, hips, side body
- Promotes lengthening of the spine
- Opens the chest and shoulders
- Can be calming and reduce anxiety
Contraindications/Cautions (consult your physician):
- Injury/inflammation of the neck, back, shoulders, hips
- Low blood pressure
- Heart conditions
- Fine during menstruation and pregnancy (consider modification for pregnancy by narrowing the stance and placing the bottom hand on the shin instead of the floor).
- Start in Samasthiti (neutral standing posture) at the top of the mat.
- Inhale and then exhale, stepping the right foot back at 90 degrees. The length of your base depends on your comfort levels, but typically 2/3-3/4 the length of your body. Align the right heel to the left heel. (See notes for foot placement).
- Keeping the front foot pointing forwards, turn the body to face the right side. Inhale both arms up to shoulder height and find length through the body, firm the legs, square the hips to the side and if you prefer, you can move the hips towards the right.
- Exhale and release the left arm and upper body down towards the ground without rotating the body forwards. The right arm should now be reaching upwards. The left hand can rest on the floor, the left shin, or be actively reaching down.
- Turn the head to face the top hand only if it is comfortable. If you have any neck issues, either keep the neck in neutral gazing forwards, or face the bottom hand.
- As you inhale, lengthen through the crown of the head, the arms, and legs. Feel the stretch in the side body. As you exhale, try and release tension from the shoulders, hips, neck and face, and try and find space by aligning the right shoulder on top of the left shoulder. Breathe for a few breaths.
- When you are ready, inhale and engage the core and strengthen the legs, and lift the upper body back to an upright position. Exhale here, and either shake it out and then proceed to the second side, or immediately turn the left foot parallel to the right, and then turn the right foot out 90 degrees towards the back of the mat.
- Repeat the steps for the second side.
- Foot placement can differ between having the feet parallel and both facing forwards, and having one foot facing forwards whilst the other is perpendicular. Either option is fine, but I would recommend the former option for beginners to avoid forward rotation in order to focus on the side body stretch.
- If you don’t reach the floor, bring it up to you by using a block or anything else which can help you to maintain form.
- Using a wall behind you can be beneficial especially for beginners to help with alignment.
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