|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 185 ]
Another within the group of angled postures is the prasaritottana asana, the "side leg stretch."
Though this position is somewhat of an advanced stretch, its benefits are great for the chronic leg, hip, back and shoulder stiffness that many people experience today. Therefore it is appropriate that we introduce this stretch early on, though it may take some time to perfect.
Note: Keep both of your legs straight and do not bend the knees. Also keep the left foot behind you flat and firmly planted on the floor.
- This posture is also performed first to the right side and then repeated in the same fashion to the left.
- Begin, as in all of the standing postures, from a relaxed sama sthiti asana.
- Take a medium to wide stance with the feet. Depending on your height, the feet should be between 2 to 3 feet apart.
- Reach behind your back with both arms and grasp the elbows with the opposite hands.
- Slowly turn your upper torso 90 degrees to the right, while at the same time turning your right foot 90 degrees to the right.
- Inhale and extend the upper torso backwards into a light backbend.
- On the exhalation, slowly fold forward at the waist, lowering your forehead down toward the knee.
Note: A more advanced position with the hands is in hamsa mudra. As flexibility allows, experiment also with this mudra.
- Hold still within this position for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing slowly and calmly.
- To come out of the pose, inhale and slowly lift the torso back to vertical.
- Turn 180 degrees to the left side, change the direction of your feet, and repeat the stretch to the opposite side.
Effects and Benefits
As indicated by the name, this is a great stretch for the legs, particularly the posterior hamstring group and the medial adductors of the thigh. This posture gives strength and stability to the knee and ankle joints and combats much tension in the pelvic area and low back. Due to the position of the arms and hands within this pose, it provides a great stretch to the entire shoulder region and the sub-scapular muscles. This posture is another position with extreme benefit for the spine.
As you will notice during the practice, this asana demands a great deal of concentration and balance. Therefore it is a good practice for focusing the mind’s attention onto the body, and also for helping to develop proprioceptive capacity (balance) and to harmonize the activity of many smaller stabilizer muscles.
The contents of this web page are intended for informational purposes only. One should not engage in any yoga practices based solely upon the directions given on this web page or any other page of this web site. Anyone atempting to perform any of the yoga exercises introduced on this website assumes full responsibility and does so at their own risk.
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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