This pose is helpful for a variety of back conditions, including cervical or lumbar herniation, lumbar strain, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.
Anyone can enjoy this variation. It is deeply restful and safe, provided you have the range of motion in the hip and back of the front leg. The head is supported so the neck is able to release. The calf is also supported, removing strain from the back of the leg, so you can pay attention to lengthening the spine, rolling the chest open, and moving the outer hip away from the front foot. Because of the support, tension abates in the body and helps relax the central nervous system, which will cause the stress cycle that may accompany pain to abate.
How to Prepare for the Pose
Place a chair at one end of the mat. If you’re tall, you may need to use another mat so neither you nor the chair slides. Set 2 bolsters on the chair, and depending on your height, add 1-3 blankets. You may even need to add another bolster or place blocks underneath the bolsters. (Play around with this; it’s worth the effort!)
Determine your foot position in relation to where your head needs to be while maintaining a neutral spine. Have a stance that’s at least one leg’s length wide, if not more. (Widening your legs can further release the lower back and outer hip and bring your head further down; however, it will increase the stretch of the front hamstring.)
Once you have determined your foot position, bend your front knee a little and place the short end of the block flush with your front calf. The block will rest on an angle on the floor.
As you straighten the leg, you should feel the calf supported by the block. Your knee may very slightly bend while in the pose. You can fine-tune the block placement a bit to have a completely straight leg, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
Look for the front chair leg with your lower hand as you crease at the hip, and support yourself in such a way that you maintain a neutral spine while respecting the range of motion of your front leg. The range of motion in your outer hip will also dictate how far you can come into this pose. By no means does the pelvis have to be completely in line with the shoulders, but you want to maintain as much external rotation on the front leg as you can without compromising the knee.
Rest your head on the support and look straight out. You can place your other hand at your low hip.
Take 10 deep breaths; stay longer if you’re happy in the pose.
If you have added more support for the head, take the hand higher on the chair. At this point it could be useful to move your setup alongside the wall so your props are also supported.
You may also set up the short end of the mat against the wall and press the outer edge of your back foot into the wall for more feedback in the leg and hip and for more support.
If you don’t have an appropriate chair, you may use a table. Make sure that you have support for your lower hand, such as a block or two.
See also Got Computer Neck? 3 Poses for Pain Relief