I will admit, I love this pose. I love what it does for my hamstrings. I love how it makes me use my arms. I love that it gives me a little break in the action during the Standing Series and lets me know that we will soon hit the floor.
Standing Separate Leg Stretching has so many benefits when done correctly, it frustrates me when I see people out of proper alignment. Yes, I know – in the photo above I should be standing on my hands but the floor is hard! Trust me, were I in a studio with the carpeting and my mat, I would be doing this the right way!
To get in to the posture, start with your feet together. From here, take a big step to the right, approximately four feet with your arms stretched out to either side. I often measure by seeing if my feet are aligned under my elbows. Make sure your feet are pointing forward to stop them from slipping – turn the toes slightly in so the outsides of your feet are parallel. Keeping your legs straight, arms out to the side and a flat back, start to bend forward. The flat back is especially important. When your body is parallel to the floor, tuck your hands under your heels with fingers touching one another. If this is too hard for you, grab your ankles as I am doing above. Pulling on the heels, using the strength in your arms, work on getting your forehead down to the floor. You should be looking down, not behind you. If you can’t get your head down to the floor, spread your feet apart (carefully and slowly). If you get your head on the floor very easily, bring your feet back together slightly – challenge yourself! Slowly come back up, going through the steps in reverse, to avoid getting dizzy.
This posture stretches your hips and ankles. It strengthens the legs, biceps, triceps and shoulders. It improves flexibility in the hamstrings, lower back and calves. And, if done correctly – and you’re creating pressure in the abdomen – it flushes out the internal organs (specifically the large and small intestines).
And it really just makes me super happy.