Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana (Bound Extended Side Angle Pose)
BENEFITS Stretches your upper and lower trapezius (muscles that run along your back and shoulders), pectoral and intercostal muscles (chest muscles), and hamstrings. Strengthens your pelvic floor.
INSTRUCTION From Downward-Facing Dog, turn your left foot slightly outward and step your right leg forward between your hands. Bend your right knee so it is above your right ankle. Slowly work your right arm underneath your right leg, keeping your leg at a 90-degree angle. Drop your back heel and keep pressing the outer edge of your left foot into the mat. Lift your left arm up, bend your left elbow, and reach behind you. Clasp your left fingers or wrist with your right hand. (If you can’t yet grasp your hands together, hold a strap.) Move your left shoulder back to open your chest and shoulders. Widen your collarbones and keep your chest open and lifting. Turn your head to look up at the ceiling with a soft gaze. With each breath, try to lift your chest toward the ceiling. Keep your legs engaged, and reach your tailbone toward your left heel. Hold for 5–10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)
BENEFITS Strengthens your adductors, hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and pelvic floor; prepares your body for deeper hip openers.
INSTRUCTION From Down Dog, exhale and step your right foot forward to the outside edge of your right hand. Press into the ball of your left foot for a breath, reaching out through your left heel to stretch and activate your left hip and groin muscles. Check that your right knee is stacked over your right ankle. Distribute your weight evenly across both hips. Then lower your hips slightly, and either stay here or take it deeper by lowering down onto both forearms, maintaining lift in your chin and chest. Hold for 5–10 breaths. (If you want an even deeper stretch, begin to work your right shoulder under your right knee. You can stay here for 5 breaths or extend your arms out to your sides, staying strong and active in your legs and core.) Repeat on the other side.
Parighasana (Gate Pose)
BENEFITS Stretches your lats, QL muscles (quadratus lumborum—deep core muscles), intercostals, hamstrings, calves, and adductors; encourages spinal elasticity; opens your shoulders; stimulates abdominal organs.
INSTRUCTION From a seated position, extend your right leg forward. Fold your left leg and place your left heel close to your left buttocks, with your shin and the top of your left foot on the mat. Your thighs should be in a right angle. Walk your arms forward as far as possible so that you feel a stretch through your sides. Then reach your right arm across your left knee, placing your hand on your knee, twisting as you fold to the right side. On an inhalation, reach your left arm overhead and toward your right foot—the goal is to place your hand on your foot. You can stay here or bring your right arm to join your left hand. Hold for 5–10 breaths. With each inhalation, open your chest a little more, and with each exhale, twist toward the ceiling. Exhale to release, then repeat on the other side.
See also Stretch Your Side Body in Gate Pose