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Practice rotating your spine, increase hip and shoulder flexibility, and work proper knee alignment in these prep poses for Purna Matsyendrasana.
Half-Bound Seated Forward Bend
Ardha Baddha Paschimottanasana
Facilitates a deep core twist; opens hips, ankles, and knees
Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Fold your right knee and rotate your femur externally as you pull the right heel up near your waist. Drop the right knee toward the floor. Reach behind your back with your right hand, twisting as needed to grab your right big toe; keep the clasp and return to center. If you cannot face forward while holding the toe, hold the foot with a strap. Inhale, reach up with the left arm, and straighten the spine, and then exhale and fold forward with a slight leftward twist, taking your left foot with your left hand. Hold for at least 15 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Opens the shoulders and protects the sacroiliac (SI) joint and lumbar spine while facilitating the sense of moving rhythmically into a twist
Sit in Staff Pose. Bend your right knee and put the foot parallel to your left thigh. Place your right hand behind you and, exhaling, lean back and twist to the right, starting from your pelvis and SI joint and moving up your torso; drop your sitting bones down. Inhale and reach up with your left arm; as you exhale, curl the spine to wrap your upper left arm around the outside of your right thigh. Reach back with your right arm to clasp hands together. Alternatively, hook your left elbow outside your right knee. Push the left arm into your leg while simultaneously pushing into the arm with the knee. Hold for at least 10 breaths; switch sides.
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Works the oblique pattern of twisting; lengthens the psoas muscle, which starts along the low back, curls down the pelvis, and attaches to the thigh
Stand with your feet about one leg-length apart. Turn your right toes to face forward and angle your left toes in about 45 degrees. Inhaling, reach up with your left arm. Bend your right leg, so the knee is over the ankle. Exhaling, curl the spine, reaching your left arm outside your right thigh to place your hand on the floor. Alternatively, have hands in Anjali Mudra (prayer position). Reach your right arm overhead, palm facing down. Gaze up at your right palm. Hold for 10 breaths; switch sides.
About Our pros
Richard Freeman has been a student of yoga since 1968 and studied in India among a number of traditional lineages, which he synthesizes in the Ashtanga Vinyasa system. Mary Taylor began studying yoga in 1978 and, inspired by her primary teacher, K. Pattabhi Jois, became absorbed by the practice and its transformative impact on the body and mind. Freeman and Taylor teach together throughout the world and have co-authored a new book,The Art of Vinyasa, which will be released by Shambhala Publications in December. To learn more, go to richardfreemanyoga.com.