Pyramid Pose (Intense Forward Stretch)
1st image of Maggie Anderson taken by Maggie Anderson
2nd image of Maggie Anderson taken by Morayo Sayles
Pyramid pose is a fantastic variation of a runners stretch. It stretches and strengthens the legs and most especially those hamstrings (back of the legs). It’s one of my many favorite poses. What’s great is this pose is also great for calming the brain and improving the digestive system, as well as stretching the spine, shoulders and wrists (if in the full pose with hands flat on mat facing behind you). To boot your abs are also being stimulated. It’s an all-around great pose. If you’re an athlete this is a must-have pose. And even if you’re not! 🙂
Directions on how to come into the pose:
Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Step your left leg out behind you about 3 1/2 to 4 feet wide. Both feet can face forward with a slight turn out of the back foot. Align the front heel with the back heel. If you feel the back foot needs to be out further for the first few times you do this pose for better balance that’s perfectly divine. It’s great to warm up to this stretch a few times with a micro-bend in the front knee and eventually you’ll be able to straighten it out. Turn your hips forward and the front (right) hip pulling out and back a little so that the right kneecap is center line with the right ankle. Take a breath.
Now inhale, and on the exhale hinge at the hips as you bring your torso forward. It’s here you will know your limits in flexibility. You may only go slightly forward in the forward stretch and rest your hands on your upper thigh. Or you may find you can come forward and down a little more. Maintain a straight back, good posture throughout the entire pose. Lower down where your edge is. It’s not about going low. It’s about going where you feel the stretch deep. Sweet discomfort. No pain. If your hands can reach the mat, fantastic. Be mindful of that straight back. Shoulders are not rounding and are back down and away from the ears. The crown of your head may back parallel with the mat here. Breathe. From here, if you’d like to take it one step farther, allow your hands to turn around to face behind you, palms on the mat. Tighten your thighs lifting the kneecaps. Hold and breathe. Nice deep cleansing breaths here….
If you’d like to take it to another level you may take your hands, while maintaining the pose up and behind you to clasp behind your back. You can rest your hands on your back or lift them off the back for an extra stretch in the arms and shoulders. Hold here and take 3-5 deep cleansing breaths.
When you’re ready, slow come up, again hinging at the hips, straight back, hands still clasped behind your back (if you took that variation). Maintaining the leg foundation, allow slight arch support in the back and open up the chest, the heart, look up and allow for a mini-backbend here. Then release the hands. Release the legs coming up into Tadasana. Take a breath.
When not to do this pose or to modify/Contraindications:
If you have back injury or high blood pressure you may not want to practice this pose at its fullest length, but rather only come down halfway. Severe back or spinal injury: get permission from your doctor or physical therapist and modify by not going down as far.
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