Eka Pada Supta Vajrasana

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(One-Legged Reclining Thunderbolt Pose) If you're going to endeavor to do a deep backbcnding M i pose like Eka Pada

¿^PW^ ^ Rajakapotasana IV, it's crucial that you open your hip flexors—keeping them mobile will prevent compression and discomfort in your lower back.

Eka Pada Supta Vajrasana is great for stretching tight thighs and hips. To begin, sit on a block placed at its lowest height. With your left toes pressing against the block, move your left knee to the left, so that it touches the left edge of your mat. This knee position will make the stretch somewhat easier for your quads and knees. Place your right foot flat on the floor and lean back on your hands. At each stage of this pose, it's important that your left knee maintain contact with the floor and that your inner thigh rotate toward the mat. If your left knee lifts, it's an indication that you're not yet open enough in your hip flexors, and you're putting your knee and lower back at risk for injury. So, as you lean back on your hands, notice whether your left knee has lifted. If it has, or if your knee simply can't

Supta Vajrasana

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To save on your next purchase, use promotional code yjad2 when ordering, Limited-time offer bend that deeply, come back up and do Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) with the block under your sacrum and your legs extended straight. Backing off doesn't mean you shouldn't continue with the other poses in this sequence, but it docs mean you should be realistic about how much furtheryourbody willgo. Practicing the other preparatory poses in this article on a regular basis will be more effective than struggling in a pose you're not ready for.

If you are comfortable leaning back, lower yourself to your forearms. If your knee lifts, come back up onto your hands and stay with that stretch; if not, continue to lie back. You might be able to rest on the back of your head or even bring your shoulders to the floor. It all depends on whether you can keep your knee down and, of course, on howyour knee and your lowerback feel. It's OK to feel a stretch in your knees, but there should be no sense of strain or strong discomfort. It is better to lie back on props (folded blankets or a bolster under the back) than to risk strain.

Take the time to find the best position for yourself—propped or unpropped— one that will allow you to rest and savor the stretch. If your pose isn't sufficiently supported, you will instinctively tighten your hip flexors. In this pose you want the belly and hip flexors to do the opposite— to elongate and relax. When this happens, the pose can be surprisingly refreshing and calming. (Drapinga blanket overyour hips can enhance this feeling.)Tightening the quads or hip flexors will undermine any calming effect.

Once your knees and back feel well aligned, tunc in to how you feel from side to side. Is one of your hips higher than the other? Use your deep abdominal muscles to shift the hipbones and situate them evenly on the block. Ideally, you will bear weight equally on both sides of the sacrum. Finally, just as you did in Ayur-chakrasana, nudge your ribs away from your waist to lengthen your lower back, and then make a slight rightward shift to center the spine.

When you have found a position that works for you, close your eyes and slow your breathing. The resulting stretch can be sublime. Stay for several minutes, continuing to fine-tune your position. Although the pose is held, it is not static.

If you arc lying back all the way on the floor, hold the back of your right leg or loop a strap around your foot and slowly extend the right leg. Don't be surprised if you can't straighten your knee. That doesn't matter; what's more important is that you don't forcc it. Maintain steady breathing, and keep your hips square on the block. Sense how this pose has elements of Hanumanasana (Monkey God Pose), which is named for the deity Hanu-man's courageous leap. Visualize the action of leaping; then mimic it to keep the pose dynamic. Use exhalations to coax the leg straighter for a minute or so.

Changing sides can be awkward. I don't recommend trying to sit up; instead, slide toward your right and off the block before you sit up and set up for the second side.

Once you've done both sides, your hips and spine should feel open and your mind drawn inward. Start the second part of your practice by pressing up to Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) and Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two-Lcggcd Inverted Staff Pose) several times.

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