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YogaJournal.com is challenging you to get in the season’s thankful state of mind with gratitude-geared practices all month long. Share yours and tag #yjgratitudechallenge.
November is here and with it, an air of gratitude. We celebrate Thanksgiving at the end of the month, but as yogis, we always find a way to extend that gratefulness beyond the edges of our stuffed plates and back onto our mats. So I’ll be offering two “gratitudasanas” this month for you to chew on, play with, fall out of, and try again.
This first pose was inspired by a series of images I saw floating around on Instagram. It’s an aesthetically gorgeous (and seemingly impossible) take on the traditional pose Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch). This pose is an extreme hamstring opener and forward fold, so I’ve supplied a few poses to help you get there if today isn’t the day.
Kathryn Budig’s Gratitudasana: Humble Flamingo
I recommend hammering out a solid 5 rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) before giving this one a go. Or simply plug this series of poses into your home practice once you’re nice and warm in your hip flexors, shoulders and hamstrings. I’ve nicknamed this pose Humble Flamingo, but feel free to come up with your own creative takes on it.
Prasarita Padottanasana C (Wide-Legged Forward Bend)
Start with your feet parallel and one leg’s-distance apart. Interlace your fingers behind your back. (Options: If you’re tight, feel free to hold onto a strap; If you hyperextend,keep a slight bend in your elbows; If you just want a bit more, draw the heels of your hands together.) Lift your kneecaps and hinge forward from your waist. Keep your legs engaged as you extend the crown of your head toward the ground. Once you feel you’re at your peak fold, squeeze your arms up and overhead toward the ground. Take 8 full breaths. Let your thumbs drop back to your hips, as you lift your torso back up.
Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch)
Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). Step your right foot forward to meet your hands and hop your back foot in about a third of the way, spinning your heel down to align your feet heel to heel. Bring your hands to your hips and stand up. Square your hips forward, evening out the sides of your pelvis. Take Reverse Namaste hands behind your back (Options: Or grab your opposite forearms; or press your fists into each other.) Roll your shoulder heads back. Keep your chest broad as you lift both of your quads. Keep the length in your chest as you fold forward over your front straight leg. Stop when your spine begins to round. Take 8 breaths. Release your arms to the ground and continue to the next step.
Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch), Variation
Keep the length of your torso over your front leg, as if you were trying to kiss your shinbone. Walk your arms back away from your front foot, spinning the fingertips backward. If it’s possible to drop your palms, you may. Otherwise, go for length on your fingertips. Keep your hips square, kneecaps lifted, and spine long (avoid rounding).
Gratitudasana: Humble Flamingo
Keep your arms extended back but pop up onto your fingertips. Hug your triceps in so you can feel them squeezing the midline of your body. Dramatically draw the tops of your shoulder heads back to encourage the length of your sternum bone. Transfer as much weight into your fingertips as possible as you dig weight into your front heel and peel the toes up. This may be the work for now. Or you may need to shorten your stance—the longer the stance, the more challenging on the hamstrings. If you’re ready to take it all the way, feel your weight like a pyramid, balanced between your fingertips and front foot, as you draw your back heel in toward your bottom. Your entire body will be alive and active. Try holding for a few breaths and then release. Take a vinyasa to rinse out the body and do the second side.
About Kathryn Budig
Kathryn Budig is the yoga teacher behind AIM TRUE, a regular writer for Yoga Journal, and a presenter at YogaJournal LIVE!