Hip Opener, Standing
Extension, Forward Bend
Setup and Key Actions
Begin in tadasana (mountain pose), with your feet either together or two-fists distance (about four to six inches) apart and parallel, knees slightly bent. Cross your left thigh over your right, and sit your hips back as you would for chair pose. Some yogis prefer to start in chair, so that they're sitting deeply in the pose from the very start. Experiment with both and see what makes the most sense for your body. See if you can hook your left foot behind your right calf. If not, use your left hand to move your left (top-leg) sit bone up and out to the side; this creates more space and accessibility in hooking your top foot behind your standing leg shin. Once your foot is in place, draw your left hip crease back to re-level your pelvis.
Next, cross your right elbow over your left (like you're giving yourself a hug) and bring the palms of your hands (or the backs of your hands) together.
Hug your legs together, and sit back as in chair pose. Lift your elbows to shoulder height, and settle the heads of your arm bones back toward your shoulder sockets. Maintain that, and reach your hands forward away from you to create more stretch between your upper shoulder blades. Relax your face and your jaw. You can remain standing upright—or, if you feel stable, bow forward and bring your bottom elbow to touch your top knee.
To help with balance, instead of tucking your top foot behind your calf or letting it hang, rest the ball of the top-leg foot on a yoga block.
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