Open your hips and increase hamstring flexibility and core strength in these prep poses for Kurmasana.
Improves leg-muscle flexibility so that the legs eventually feel lighter and hamstring- and hip-opening poses become effortless; contracts your abdominals.
Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your legs straight in front of you. Hold the big toe of your right foot with the index and middle fingers of your right hand—if this is difficult, use a belt. Then hold your left big toe the same way. Lift the left foot, bend your left leg, and take the leg and knee back as far as possible. The left elbow will extend back. Keep pressing through your inner left heel, but without tensing the foot. If your left foot is tense, your groins will become tense as well. The extension of the inner left heel will help the left thigh remain close to the chest and feel light. Hold here for a few deep breaths, then exhale to release. Repeat 3 to 4 times to create freedom in the hip joint. Do this on both sides.
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Standing Forward Bend
Lengthens your spine; quiets your mind and cools your body
Stand in Tadasana with your feet as wide as your hips. Lift the fronts of your thighs, from your knees to your pelvis, to relax your groins. Extend forward and down. Roll the backs of the thighs away from each other and open the backs of your knees. On an inhalation, spread your chest from the center to the sides, and let your side ribs extend down, away from your groins. Hold your ankles from the outsides and bend your elbows out to the sides. With an exhalation, fold deeper. Let your neck and the back of your head extend down, but lift your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for 1 minute, or as long as possible. Continue to breathe.
Seated Forward Bend
Teaches you how to freely move your pelvis forward and comfortably extend your spine; helps to cool the mind.
Sit with your legs straight in front of you and rotate the backs of your thighs away from each other, spreading your sitting bones. If your lower back is rounding, sit on a folded blanket. Lengthen your spine and chest away from your pelvis, then hold the outsides of your feet with your hands. If you can’t hold your feet, use a strap. Once you have a grasp on your feet or the strap, spread the front ribs and take the side ribs forward. With an exhalation, extend farther forward from your hips. Bend and lift your elbows to spread the front of your chest even more and create space for your heart. Do not force the fold. Hold for 1 minute, or as long as possible. Do not hold the breath; instead, breathe normally.
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About Our Pros
Teacher Gabriella Giubilaro began practicing yoga in 1973 in Florence, Italy, with Dona Holleman. She has been to India many times to study directly with B.K.S. Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar, and Prashant Iyengar and she is the director of the Istituto Iyengar Yoga of Florence where she teaches regularly, in addition to her workshops worldwide. Model Laura Antelmi has studied for 29 years with Giubilaro, in addition to B.K.S. Iyengar and Geeta Iyengar. She owns the Iyengar Yoga Center of Boulder, in Colorado, and teaches workshops internationally.