Director – Jack Burnford.
Benefits: This pose strengthens the ankles, legs, abdominal muscles, shoulders and muscles of the back. Like all balance postures, it helps to improve balance, posture, and focus the mind.
Contraindications (Cautions): High blood pressure. Recent or chronic foot, ankle, knee, leg, or hip problems. Recent or chronic lower back injuries. If you are pregnant, support the pose with the hands on a chair or some other support.
Step by Step
1. From Tadasana/Mountain pose – inhale and raise arms up overhead. As you exhale fold the torso forward so the back and arms are parallel with the floor. Keep the chin tucked in and the back of the neck long.
2. As you inhale, gradually lift the left foot off the floor until the leg is fully extended behind you. Rotate the outer edge of the left thigh downward, so both hips are square and remain level with the floor.
3. Straighten the right leg, pressing strongly into the big toe and spreading the sole of the foot wide.
4. Stay here for five breaths, extending the energy of the spine forward through the fingertips and backward through the raised leg at the same time. Feel the strength and balanced beauty of this powerful pose.
5. To release, exhale as you lower the raised leg to the floor. Inhale as your arms and chest lift up.
6. Exhale palms to prayer position at chest, stand tall in Tadasana/Mountain pose. Repeat on the other side.
7. Counterpose: Virabhadrasana III is usually performed as part of a standing pose sequence. To quieten down after a strong balancing posture you can come into Uttanasana, Deep Forward Fold with soft/slightly bent legs.