Intense side stretch
My hamstrings have been really tight lately from all the warrior work I’ve been doing, so I’ve been loving this intense side stretch asana. It’s exactly what it sounds like and give a really great hamstring stretch which can help you prepare for a number of advanced poses like splits.
Increases flexibility in the hamstrings, hips and lower back
The full advanced stretch will also stretch the spine and shoulders
Strength builder for the legs
Aids and improves digestion
Avoid folding completely forward if you have a back injury, blood pressure issues or are too pregnant to do this comfortably.
Yoga blocks can be placed at the sides of the front foot to rest the hands on for beginners.
Step 1: Start in mountain pose (tadasana), standing with feet about hip distance apart, facing the top of your mat. Step back with one foot slightly, not like your going into a full lunge, and angle the back foot towards the outward corner of your mat. Your feet should be about 3.5 - 4 feet apart.
Step 2: Engage your leg muscles and squeeze your inner thighs towards each other. Keeping both legs straight and squaring your hips to the front of the mat, slowly hinge forward over your front leg at the hips as far as you can comfortably go. You can rest your hands on your shin, ankle, or all the way down to the floow. You can also clasp your hands behind your back and extend for a nice shoulder stretch. Don’t round the back in order to reach your hands forward, you want to hinge from your hips with as straight a spine as you can comfortably manage.
Step 3: Hold for several breaths or a few minutes, as long as you like. As you exhale, try to deepen your stretch as far as you can comfortably go.
If this pose is too intense for you, go back to your down dog. This pose will still give you a nice hamstring and hip stretch. Once you’ve deepened your down dog, the intense side stretch will be more attainable.