By Jess Gruber
Confession: When I first started practicing yoga, I absolutely hated this posture! I couldn’t balance, I didn’t have enough strength to lift my leg, I kept collapsing. Whenever the teacher cued it, I felt an unsteady sensation in my stomach, my jaw would clench, and my body would stiffen. Over time, I grew stronger in postures like the warriors and lunges, more flexible in wide legged forward fold, and more balanced in tree pose.
Now, this is one of my favorite postures – it’s so dynamic, provides the ability to move through a variety of transitions, and no matter how many times I’ve practiced it, it’s still challenging. If you’ve been to my classes, you’ll know that this posture is a staple of my All Levels Classes! We play with transitioning in and out of this posture, consider the lines the body is making, all while elongating the body and allowing the breath to wave through the body with ease.
Let’s try it!
Grab a block, find an open wall, and take a few breaths or wiggles to open your breath and body in preparation to try something new/challenging!
Step 1: Come to the wall and take a forward fold with soft knees and your right side against the wall. Take a few breaths here.
Step 2: Take a halfway lift with a strong core, elongated spine, and strong legs without locking your knees. Place the block in front of your right foot and bring your right hand to the block so that your wrist is underneath your shoulder. Creating strength and stability in your shoulder girdle, draw your shoulders away from the ears and the bottoms of the shoulder blades gently pull toward the spine. Bring your left hand to your hip.
Step 3: With the right leg actively pressing pressing into the mat, find lightness and length in your left leg and you glide it up and back, leading with the heel. As you glide the left leg up and back, use the left hand to draw the left hip open and the left glute toward the wall. Keep the left toes flexed and the breath moving freely.
Step 4: Now you can choose to stay, or release the left arm up and the eyes to the left fingers. Wherever you are, consider the lines you are creating with the body and focusing on elongating them. The lines from your right foot to your left hip, your left heel to the crown of your head, your right hand to your left hand.
Things to Notice
- Are your hips drooping? Try engaging the glutes.
- Feeling like you’re slumping? Try engaging the quadriceps.
- Are you bending backwards? Try engaging the upper abdominals.
- How is your breath? Let the breath move through the belly easily and freely.
- Menstrual pain or discomfort
- Back pain
- Digestive troubles
- Gluteus medius and maximus