Hip Opener, Seated, Sidebend
Hamstrings, Hips, Shoulders, Spine
Setup and Key Actions
Begin sitting tall in dandasana (staff pose) with your legs extended out in front of you. From here, bend your right knee and cross your right foot over your left thigh; bend your left knee and draw your left heel to your outer right hip (like you would to set up for the seated twist ardha matsyendrasana). Catch hold of both sides of your right foot with your hands, and lean back to sit upright as you lift your foot. Keep your shin at an angle, aiming your right knee out to the right— toward the outside of your right armpit. This will help to facilitate the external rotation in the right leg that’s necessary for sun dial.
Before moving on, you might find it helpful to take a detour in baby-cradle pose for a few breaths, bringing your right knee into the crook of your right elbow, and your right foot into the crook of your left elbow and rocking from side to side as if cradling a baby.
Next, bring your left hand to hold your right heel and bring your right arm to the inside of your right leg, holding your right calf with your right hand.
Start to snuggle your upper arm, or perhaps even your shoulder, under your leg: Lift your right heel up a little higher and move your right thigh back to make space, then work your leg up over shoulder/shoulder under your leg. Continue with these actions: heel up, thigh back, shoulder under, until your leg is as high up on your arm as it can comfortably be. Hug your shin against your arm to keep your leg in place.
Bring your left hand over the top of your right foot and hold the pinky-toe side of your right foot. Your head should now be framed by your right inner leg and your left inner arm. Bring your right fingertips to the floor beside you, walking them to the right so that your right arm is straight and you’re leaning slightly to the left.
From here, start to straighten your right leg any amount, continuing to lengthen through your spine as you spin your belly and rib cage to the left. You can gaze down toward your right fingertips, or turn your head to look up under your left arm if that feels comfortable for your neck.
If holding the foot is a challenge, you can loop a yoga strap over your right foot, holding onto the strap with your left hand in your final form of the pose.