1. Prepare a padded surface, such as a yoga mat or a folded blanket or towel. Begin by lying on your back facing upwards with your legs firmly extended. On an exhalation, bend the left, knee and draw your thigh up into your torso, drawing your left thigh into your belly. Meanwhile push the right thigh down into the floor.
2. Use a strap to loop around the arch of your left foot (unless you are very flexible), and hold the strap in both hands. On an inhalation straighten the knee, reaching the left heel up towards the ceiling. Slowly advance your hands along the strap until your elbows are fully extended.
3. Fully extend and lengthen the leg, with the raised leg perpendicular to the floor. Gently draw the foot a little closer to the head, increasing the stretch, being careful not to overextend the leg.
4. Remain in this position for at least 30 seconds, or several breaths, increasing the duration as your ability increases. Return the leg to the vertical and then release the strap (or your grasp of your foot) on an exhalation. Repeat on the other side for the same duration.
This pose stretches the thighs, groin, hips, hamstrings and calves, and strengthens the knees. It also stimulates the prostate gland. Mastery of this pose improves posture and digestion, helps to relieve backache as well as stress and fatigue, as well as increasing energy and counteracting depression. It can also help to relieve the symptoms of sciatica, flat-feet and menstrual discomfort.
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