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Opens the hips and encourages a sense of grounding while you work on lengthening the spine
1 Sit with your feet together, letting your knees open to the sides. Ground your sitting bones into the earth while you simultaneously lengthen through the spine and torso.
2 Press your heels together to activate your legs, and open the balls of your feet with your hands, like opening a book. This helps protect the knees in this pose and more advanced seated poses and hip openers like Padmasana.
3 Keep pressing your heels together as you extend your thighs horizontally to the right and left, releasing your knees closer to the floor.
4 Moving from the base of your spine, lift through your core, engaging Mula Bandha, or the root energy lock and muscles of the pelvic floor.
5 Keep your face relaxed. Inhale to find more length, and exhale to ground down and maintain your connection to the earth.
See also 4 Prep Poses for Bird of Paradise
6 If you want to go deeper, exhale to bend forward from your hips, maintaining the extension in your spine. Try to bring the chest to the feet and the chin past the toes.
7 Hold either variation for several deep breaths. If you are folded, inhale to come up. Exhale to release the pose.
Avoid These Mistakes
DON’T press the balls of the feet together, which can cause tension in the outer thighs and hips.
DON’T round your back. Instead, extend your spine upward, or forward past your feet.
Our Pro Teacher and model
Sharon Gannon co-founded the Jivamukti Yoga method with David Life in New York City in 1984, and now oversees nearly 40 studios around the world. She is a student of Brahmananda Sarasvati, Swami Nirmalananda, K. Pattabhi Jois, and Shyamdas, as well as a pioneer in teaching yoga as spiritual activism. Her new vegan cookbook, Simple Recipes for Joy, was released last year.
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