When do you straighten your legs in daily life? In yoga one of the first things to learn is how to properly straighten your legs. Forward Bends are all about getting those legs straight and your knee caps lifted. Here is a fun 15-Minute Forward Extension - Paschima Pratana Sthiti sequence.
1. Start with sitting still for at least a minute. It is crucial to connect inward prior to practicing your poses, the practice will be able to be more internal setting you up for a deeper practice. Take a moment to observe the body first from the Pancha Karmendriyas - Organs of Action (Pada - Feet, Pani - Hands, Payu - Organs of Elimination, Upastha - Organs of Reproduction, Vak - Voice). Then move to the Pancha Jnanendriyas - Organs of Perception (Shotra - Ears, Tvak - Skin, Chakshu - Eyes, Jivha - Tongue, Grahna - Nose). Lastly allow the consciousness to be on the inside of the trunk starting with the sides, then the ribs, focusing into the back ribs and the great expansion of the rib cage, stay there for the remainder looking at how the breath effects the ribs, specifically the intercostal space between the ribs, soft and supple.
2. Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog with your heels at the wall. Press well your heels to the wall. Press your palms flat, have your index finger pointing forward and have weight in the knuckles of your hands and press well the pads of the finger tips. Reach your outer arms down and lengthen the inner arms from the center of the chest. Move your weight into the legs, lengthen the sides of the trunk, create more space from your armpits to your hips. Lift your sits bones high, stretch well your outer knee ligaments and lift your kneecaps up by loading the quadriceps.
3. Urdhva Prasarita Eka Pada Padasana - Downward Facing Spread One Leg Foot Pose, Phase I: From Downward Facing Dog with heels at the wall draw one leg up the wall and tuck all five toes and press the toes mounds on the wall and walk the hands back about half way to the wall. Draw the lifted legs outer upper thigh towards the midline and continue to press your palms flat, have your index finger pointing forward and have weight in the knuckles of your hands and press well the pads of the finger tips. Reach your outer arms down and lengthen the inner arms from the center of the chest. Lift up from the hands all the way to the lifted leg and through the foot.
4. Urdhva Prasarita Eka Pada Padasana - Downward Facing Spread One Leg Foot Pose, Phase II: From Phase I, walk your hands back and slide your lifted leg further up the wall. If you can make it all the way to the wall in a full split, then first draw the heel down to the ground and then untuck the lifted leg toes and press the toe nails against the wall. Continue to draw the lifted legs outer upper thigh towards the midline. Repeat steps 2 through 4 on the other side.
5. Titibasana Preparation - Firefly Preparation. Have your feet a little wider than hips width distance. Bend your legs and draw your right arm under your right leg and bring it up like you make the lower arm in Gomukasana - Cow Face Pose then draw your left arm back and either clasp your hands or grasp the left wrist. Straighten the legs as much as possible. Allow your head to draw towards the floor and turn to look over your left shoulders. Repeat on the other side.
6. Supta Baddha Konasana - Supine Bound Angle Pose. Release the back with this self supported Supta Baddha Konasana by drawing the soles of your feet together and then reaching from underneath to grasp your ankles. Draw the shoulders from in to out, moving the shoulder blades into the back ribs and broaden through the collar bones. Rest your outer hip on the forearms, tuck your toes on the wall. You can make Savasana in Supta Baddha Konasana or lie flat and practice stillness for a minimum of one minute, then the practice is complete.