Ever stumble into a yoga class that’s a little above your abilities… only to have the teacher ask you to do this pose, utthita hasta padangusthasana?
Ever look around and think, “How the #@$%! am I supposed to balance if I can’t even reach my foot?”
If you are nodding in agreement, this pose, the Easy Side Leg Extension, is the missing interim step.
1. Sit down. Bend your left knee as in the illustration and place a belt around your right foot.
2. While keeping both your spine and your right knee straight, draw the leg up to your own natural limit. Stay for three slow, easy breaths.
3. Swing your right leg to the right and the left arm to the left. Use the belt–that’s why it’s there. Eventually you’ll be able to use less length on the belt or dispense with it. For now, stay for half a minute, semi-relaxed, breathing slowly and easily. Then repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Opens up your hip joints, loosens tight hamstrings, and provides a face-saving alternative to trying to do the standing-up version and then knocking everybody over when you fall.
Avoid if: Your lumbar spine feels tender, or if your knees, hip, or shoulder joints hurt.
Final thoughts: Wait till every one of your accomplished classmates is balancing before sitting down to this alternative pose. That way they’ll be staring at you instead of over to the side, and will fall all over themselves. That’ll teach them to look nonchalant.