Director – Jack Burnford.
Benefits: This pose opens the hips, stretches, strengthens and opens the shoulders, strengthens and limbers the legs. Encourages focus.
Contraindications (Cautions): High blood pressure, heart problems, or back conditions such as slipped disc or sciatica. Those with shoulder issues – keep arms on the back while hands are clasped, or release the clasp and lower hands to the mat. Those with neck problems – keep the head in a neutral position, do not bow down so much.
Step by Step
1. From Tadasana – Mountain Pose, place hands on hips and step the feet wide. Twist your torso to the left and turn the left foot out to the side. Interlace fingers behind the back, and lengthen the arms, pressing heels of your palms together in a double fist.
2. Inhale and reach interlaced fingers down your back to open your chest, then exhale and forward bend your upper body inside your left thigh.
3. As you continue to fold forward allow your arms to move toward your head to stretch your chest and move your head towards the floor, keeping your spine straight and lengthened, your back leg straight and your front leg bent at the knee during the fold. Your head will be next to the inside of the knee of your left leg, if you can get it there comfortably. Avoid resting your weight on the front knee, let the torso flow inside the leg, let gravity assist you.
4. If you can go slightly lower and your head is hovering above the floor, gaze at the ground below you. If your hips are very flexible, place the crown of your head on the floor.
5. Hold here for five deep breaths. To come out inhale and begin to lift the head, the arms will follow, arms will move towards the back. Straighten your left leg and flow the arms wide (to release any shoulder tension). OR to flow straight to the other side (e.g. if you are adding to a Sun Salutation sequence), release your hands to the floor, vinyasa, then from Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot forward to do Humble Warrior on the other leg.
6. Counterpose: Matsyasana – Fish Pose, or another backward bending asana.