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Stretch your glutes and hamstrings, strengthen your core, and open your shoulders in these prep poses for Salamba Sirsasana.
Standing Forward Bend, variation
Lengthens your hamstrings; opens your shoulders
Place your feet hip-distance apart, aligning your heels, toes, and kneecaps as you did for Tadasana. Bend your knees and then fold at the hips so that your torso comes to rest on your thighs. Grab opposite elbows and let the weight of your arms open your shoulders. Let your spine round slightly. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed between the inside and outside edges of your feet. Work to firm your quads and engage your hip flexors and abdomen to lengthen your hamstrings.
Forearm Plank Press
Strengthens your arms and core so you can press into Supported Headstand without compromising your neck and shoulders
You’ll need a blanket on a wood or concrete floor (or to wear socks). Start in Forearm Plank with your toes on a blanket. The rest of your body should be just like Tadasana, with a focus on core, hip, and leg stability. Engage your abdomen and hip flexors like you did in Standing Forward Bend to begin to fold, dragging the blanket toward your shoulders. Your arms should remain in the same position they started in. When you can’t drag the blanket any closer, stop and hold until you start to lose your alignment, then slowly return to Forearm Plank.
See alsoWork Your Core in Any Pose
Supported Headstand, variation
Strengthens your shoulders and arms; teaches you how to protect your neck and build courage
Start on all fours with your toes touching a wall, hips stacked a little bit in front of your knees. Drop down onto your forearms. Interlace your fingers and press the edges of your hands, wrists, forearms, and elbows into the floor. Lower the crown of your head so that the back of your head grazes your hands. Firm your biceps and triceps to stabilize your shoulder joints. Press the floor away so that 30 percent or less of your weight is on your head, and move your shoulders away from your ears. Lift your hips just as you would in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). Make certain the weight distribution remains as it was in the arms, shoulders, and head. Your shoulders will move past your elbows as you aim to stack your hips over your shoulders. Take one foot up the wall to hip height, and then the other. Align your feet and knees like you did in Tadasana. If you’re able to keep the weight out of your head and neck, then start to lift one leg up toward the ceiling. Repeat on the second side and then walk down and rest in Balasana (Child’s Pose).
About Our Pro
Teacher and model Alexandria Crow is a former competitive gymnast whose yoga experience has been about transformation. She guides her students step by step through creative sequences, challenging them to stay conscious of their body’s strengths and limitations in the present moment. Crow teaches slow-moving, vinyasa-based therapeutic classes catered to the needs of individuals. You can find her at YogaWorks in Santa Monica, California; giving workshops around the world; and at alexandriacrow.com.