• Lie on your stomach, and rest on your forearms in Sphinx pose, elbows underneath the shoulders.
• Firm the pubic bone down and draw your belly in.
• Cross the left forearm in front of the body. Bend your right knee and reach back with the right hand to hold the top of your foot, pulling the foot in towards your right hip.
• Soften the top of the right thigh.
• If your foot is close to your buttocks, pivot your hand so that the heel of your hand is pressing the top of your foot, your fingers point forwards and your elbow points upwards.
• Keep your upper body comfortably facing forward, chest open, front arm engaged.
• Stay for 5 breaths before slowly releasing the foot. Repeat on the other side.
Beginners tips • You can support your upper body, placing a bolster under your chest and armpits
• You can use a strap looped around your foot if you can’t reach it with ease.
• Reaching your foot, without turning your hand forward may be intense enough for your quadriceps.
• Stretches the thigh muscles and hip flexors.
• Increases the flexibility in the back.
• Opens the chest and shoulders.
• Prepares the body for back bending.
• Great stretch for runners and cyclists.
Watch out for...
• Keep your knee in line with your hip.
• Avoid working or testing the knees. If your knee hurts, ease up on the pose a little, don't press too hard with your hand. You should feel a stretch in the belly of the thigh muscle, not around the knee joint.
• Avoid slumping into the shoulder of the front arm, keep the base of the neck relaxed.
• Use the position of your front arm to adjust the intensity of the backbend in this pose. Bring it closer to your chest to intensify it and further away to release.
• For full Bhekasana you take hold of both feet with both hands at the same time.
• You can practise this pose lying on your side - this is a good option if you are pregnant or can't put weight on your abdomen for any other reason.
• There is also a Yin Yoga pose called Frog pose - but this targets the inner thighs rather than the quads.
Alternative Bow Pose Dhanurasana
Alternative Reclining Hero Pose / Saddle Pose Supta Virasana
Beginner Option Sphinx Pose Salamba Bhujangasana
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