Stretch your hamstrings and tone your abdominals in these prep poses for Krounchasana.
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose, variation
Stretches the hamstrings; strengthens the abdomen; increases hip flexibility
Lie on your back with both knees bent, heels near your sitting bones. Raise your left knee toward your chest and catch your left foot with both hands. Extend your left leg upward, stretching your hamstring from the buttock to the knee, and draw your quadriceps muscles from the knee toward the hip. If you can’t straighten your leg while holding your foot with your hands, loop a strap around your foot. Tighten your kneecap and press your femur toward the back of your thigh. Maintain that action as you pull your leg toward your torso. Exhale, lift your trunk, and bring your forehead toward your shin. Stay here for 15–20 seconds, with normal breathing. Lie back, release your left leg, and change sides.
Stretches and tones the leg muscles; strengthens the hip joints; strengthens the abdominal and spinal muscles
Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. If your hamstrings are tight and your pelvis tilts backward, sit on a blanket or two. Place your palms on the floor by your hips, fingers pointed forward. Tighten your kneecaps, pull your quadriceps muscles toward your groin, and press your thighs and knees into the floor. Lift the sides of your body. Lift your breastbone and move your shoulders back. Keep your hips, shoulders, and head all in one line, perpendicular to the floor.
Improves flexibility in the ankle, knee, and hip joints; tones the abdominal muscles and organs
Sit in Staff Pose. Bend your left leg at the knee, roll your calf out, and place your leg in Hero Pose. Grip your right kneecap, press your right thigh down, and keep your legs together. If your pelvis tilts to the right, place a blanket under your right buttock. Inhale, raise your arms, and lean forward. Catch your right foot and lift your chest to create a concave back. If you are unable to reach your foot, use a strap. Exhale and bend forward, keeping your weight on the bent knee. Bring your trunk close to your legs. Hold 30–60 seconds. Inhale to sit up; switch sides.
About Our Pro Teacher and model John Schumacher is the founder and director of Unity Woods Yoga Center, serving the Washington, DC, area since 1979. He studied with B.K.S. Iyengar for 33 years and was certified by him as an Advanced Teacher. In his 43 years of teaching, Schumacher has taught teachers and students worldwide. His clear, precise teaching style and engaging sense of humor challenge and inspire students to move beyond their imagined limits.