Self complimentary posture
Justification : Ham-string stretch
Physical benefits : Better circulation in the hips, legs and feet. Aligns the pelvis. Balances the two sides of the back. Opens the hips and stretches the hamstrings, thighs, groins and calve muscles. Strengthens knee and ankle joints. Stimulates the prostrate gland and abdominal organs, thus aiding in digestion. Helps recovery from cardiac condition.
Therapeutic benefits : Relieves sciatica, back pain, and helps to relieve menstrual cramps. Removes stiffness and arthritis in hip joints and prevents hernia. Calms high blood pressure.
Limitations: Although a good pose for high blood pressure, use a blanket or brick under the head in this case. Avoid practicing if you have a hamstring tear, diarrhea, asthma, bronchitis, migraine or stress related headache. Only practice the lateral variation during menstruation or pregnancy.
How to Practice :
Phase I : Supta Padangusthasana (Classic)
- Both feet flexed and preferably pressed firmly into a wall, lying on your back, legs completely straight, backs of knees pressed towards the floor and the thighs turned in towards each other.
- Exhaling, bring right knee to chest and put the strap just above the heel. For a deeper practice, hook your thumb , index and middle fingers around your big toe (Iyengar method).
- Inhale and on the exhale extend the right leg towards the ceiling until the arms are straight and shoulders remaining grounded.
- Pay attention to left leg- keep rolling the inner thigh towards the center and try to reduce the space between the floor and the back of the knee extending through to the heel.
- Linger here for a moment in order to pull the femur head into the ball and socket joint, while pushing the right thigh towards the left heel and away from the ribcage. Stay for 3-5 breaths and come back on the inhale pulling leg gently towards the head before releasing it back to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
Phase II : Supta Padangusthasana Lateral (to the side)
- Holding the strap with the right hand and placing the left hand on the left hip bone to keep hip pressed towards floor, inhale and on exhale bend right elbow and lower straight right leg to the floor keeping the left leg grounded towards the floor. Stay for 5 breaths and come back up on the inhale to the center pulling the leg gently towards the head and let it come back down to the wall with the left foot and observe the resonance in the right leg. Repeat on the other side.
Phase III : (Parivrrta Supta Padangusthasana /Supine Twist )
- Keeping the strap just above the heel, bring the right leg back to Phase I. Taking the strap in your left hand and using your right thumb to press the right groin away from the ribcage and towards the wall, on the exhale let the right leg come across the chest towards the floor.
- Keep the left foot completely parallel to the floor and don’t let the right buttock lift too high from the floor. Hold for 5 breaths before inhaling and bringing it back to center and gently bringing it towards the head before bringing it back down to the wall and next to the other foot. Again, observe the resonance in the right leg. Repeat on the other side.
Keep the shoulders, stomach, throat and facial muscles relaxed and soft. Keep the extended ground leg lengthened and the thigh rolled in toward the center, reducing as much as possible the space behind the knee and the floor. However if you have tight hamstrings, you can bend the ground leg.
When you bring the leg to the side, you can use a block or bolster to place the thigh on in order to release the inner groin.
If it’s more comfortable, place a block or blanket under the head.