Anantasana / Side-Reclining Leg Lift

Stretches the backs of the legs, the sides of the torso and tones the abdomen.   If you feel unstable with your soles pressed to a wall, wedge a bolster against your back.

Step by Step

1.  Lie on the floor on your left side.  Press actively through your left heel, flex the ankle, and use the outside of the foot to stabilise the position (if you feel unstable, brace the sole of your foot against the wall).

2.  Stretch your left arm straight out along the floor parallel to your torso, so that you create one long line from heels to fingertips.  Bend your left elbow and support your head in your palm.  Slide the elbow away from your torso to stretch the armpit.

3.  Externally rotate your right leg so the toes point toward the ceiling, then bend and draw the knee toward your torso.  Reach across the inside of the leg and take hold of the right big toe with your index and middle fingers.  Secure the grip by wrapping the thumb around the two fingers. (If you’re not able to comfortably hold the toe, loop a strap around the sole and hold the strap).  On an inhale, extend the leg up toward the ceiling.

4.  The raised leg may angle slightly forward, while the top buttock will drop back.  Firm the sacrum (the triangular-shaped bone at the bottom of the spine) against the pelvis; this creates stability/support that will help you move the leg slightly back toward a perpendicular position.  Press actively through both heels and stay strong in the core.  Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release the leg, take a few breaths, and roll over onto your right side.  Repeat for the same length of time.

4.  Counterpose: Ardo Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog).