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Flow into Yoga: Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose

Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose

Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose or Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana is the 8th posture in the Bikram series. This posture is like kryptonite for sciatica! Most beginners will be unable to perform the full range of motion. DO NOT let your limitations discourage you; it is precisely the fact that you cannot yet complete the full posture that makes Standing Separate Leg Stretching so beneficial.  

To achieve:

1. Stand straight, with both feet as close together as possible.

2. Raise both your arms above your head and towards the ceiling, while keeping the inside of your palms facing each other.

3. Step to the right to form an inverted V shape. The distance between your feet should be about 4 feet, a little more if your legs are longer. Keep both your legs locked. Spread both your arms sideways, like an airplane, so that they become parallel to the floor.

4. While keeping your knees locked, move your hips slightly backwards, while arching your lower back a little. You should feel a natural curve forming in the lower spine. Try to shift as much of your weight onto the toes, while still maintaining your balance. If you a feel a slight stretch in the hamstrings, you are on your way! 

5. Keep your feet firmly on the ground. Knees locked. Abdomen engaged. Begin to slowly lower your torso. Make sure to keep your head, neck and spine in one straight line. Do not tuck your chin or bend the head backwards. All the movements should be performed slowly and under full control. For many beginners the posture will stall here. 

6. If you are able to get your torso almost perpendicular to the floor, then grab your heals from beneath and attempt to pull the heals upwards with your strength, providing for an excellent whole-body stretch. If you cannot reach your heels, grab your feet anywhere or touch the ground with your fingertips. Do not force the movement. If you feel that you have reached your range of motion, just hold the position and you will improve with time.

7. Hold.

In general this posture will give your lower back a great stretch, improving the flexibility of the lower vertebrae and reducing the possibility of back injury.  The stretching also improves the flexibility of the ankles and hip joints and strengthens the quadriceps and calf muscles.  Due to the head being lowered to the ground, the Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose will boost circulation to the brain, nasal cavity, and adrenal glands. This posture will stimulate many of your internal organs and enhance their function by stimulating blood flow to their region, most notably the small & large intestines.  Properly sustaining the posture requires significant effort, which increases the amount of calories burned.  There is also a connection between performing the Standing Separate Leg Stretching pose and the mitigation of certain diseases related to the nervous system, hyper-acidity, and even constipation. 

Lyndsey Hemmesch is an instructor at Bikram Yoga Burr Ridge in Burr Ridge.

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