This week’s yin pose is straddle pose/wide legged fold. This is a nice juicy stretch that releases tight hips, hamstrings and low back. Let’s dive in!
Open your legs out into a V shape. You can bring the legs out as far as is comfortable, but you should be able to keep the toes pointed toward the ceiling while in this posture. If you find your toes pointing in toward the floor, draw the legs a little closer and lift your chest higher. Start by just breathing some length into the spine. After a few breaths upright, begin to walk your fingers forward. Pause when you feel the first surge of sensation and breathe there. Once the initial intensity has settled a bit – continue to ease your way forward until you find a good stopping point, eventually finding a place where you can simply surrender and be heavy.
- DON’T RUSH – The point of the posture is to find resistance and breathe through it. Rushing beyond your sensations is not only physically unsafe but it’s robbing you from the true experience of release.
- DETAILS – Continually check to make sure that there’s no sharp or stinging pain in the knees, ankles or low back. If there’s pain of any kind, back off and find a stopping point that feels more supportive to your body’s needs.
- Bring the earth to you | The floor is not the goal, sensation is! When you find your stopping point or a pausing point – it might not be the floor, and that is OKAY! Use a block to bring the earth up to you. I tend to spend most of my time in this posture with my head elevated to a block.
- Support your hips | If you find it difficult to sit up tall before folding forward (almost as if you’re headed backwards rather than forwards) see if elevating your hips onto a blanket helps you to roll the pelvis just slightly forward and lengthens the low back.
- Side Bends | Before or after the fold directly forward, it’s a nice addition to also do a side bend from this position. I like to place my elbow to a block at the inner leg and work my way deeper from there. Try not to make it about how low you can go, but how much length you can create on the side body. I start by gently pressing my hand into the opposite thigh and then eventually extend my arm overhead if adding on sounds nice. 3-5 minutes each side is my personal recommendation. I take about 1 minute between the sides to sit upright and observe space and release in the side body.
- Wonderful stretch for the hips, groin, and hamstrings.
- Stimulates the urinary, kidney, liver and spleen meridians.
- Calming pose for the body and mind. Any kind of forward fold can be very nourishing for those with a hectic lifestyle or a busy mind. Though it takes time to settle in and get past the “noise” of life, this posture serves as a nice trigger for the parasympathetic nervous system.
- The release in the hips also provides an opportunity for emotional release as well, since many of our feelings are stored as tension in the hips – poses such as these might surface a wide array of emotions. Breathe through them if they arise.
USE CAUTION: Contraindications for this posture include…
- Sciatica/Low back issues. Either leave this pose out (especially if you cannot prevent the back from rounding) or be sure to elevate the hips if you are currently suffering from this condition.
- Knee issues. If you feel any kind of sharp, shooting pains or some kind of abnormal discomfort in the knee and/or ankle joints- come out and then find a variation that only brings forth a stretching sensation – rather than a pinching one.
HOLD: 3-10 minutes, depending on your own personal needs. Come down very slowly from this posture (as with any yin pose).
- Windshield Wipers. Gently sway the knees side to side allowing the intensity in the hips, legs and back to neutralize.
- Hero pose (seated or reclined). This posture will give the back of the legs a break and creating a nice stretch for the front body.