Stretch your hamstrings, strengthen your core, and more with Heron Pose…
Heron Pose (Krounchasana) is an intermediate-level yoga pose that provides a great stretch for the hamstrings, while also increasing flexibility throughout all the other major muscle groups in the legs, from calves to quads. It also helps to open up the hips, build core and back strength, and maintain full range of motion in the knee joints. This is a great pose for runners, cyclers, and athletes to help maintain performance and mobility.
Be sure to warm up your hamstrings before performing this pose, as it can provide quite an intense stretch. If you have tight hamstrings, this may be a challenging pose at first; however, there are a number of ways to modify the pose if you’re not quite ready for the full pose yet. Be careful to keep your spine tall and straight and your shoulders down and back throughout the pose to avoid hunching or rounding your back, which can put strain on the lower back muscles. If you feel that you cannot maintain the pose while maintaining a straight spine, hold onto your ankle or calf instead of your foot, or place a strap around the ball of your foot and hold one end of the strap in each hand. You can also bend the knee of your raised leg slightly if needed.
Remember to listen to your body, and stop or adjust as needed if you feel any pain.
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How to Do Heron Pose:
- Begin seated in Staff Pose (Dandasana) with both legs extended in front of you and the spine nice and straight. If you usually sit up on a blanket in staff pose to help elongate the spine, you can use a blanket for the same purpose throughout this pose.
- Fold your left leg back into a Half Hero Pose (Ardha Virasana) position. Your left foot should be outside your left hip, not under it. Take care to keep the left foot pointing straight back and the left knee hugging toward the midline. If Virasana is painful for your knees or doesn’t work for you for some other reason, just keep your left leg forward instead, bending the left knee in a one-legged Sukasana with your heel pulled in to your groin.
- Bend your right knee and bring your right foot to the floor close to your right sit bone.
- Hold your right foot with both your hands and lift it off the floor.
- Lean your torso back slightly and anchor your shoulder blades onto your back and your arms into their shoulder sockets.
- Slowly straighten your right leg as much as you can. Keep your spine long and your shoulders down. Don’t hunch forward in an attempt straighten your leg more. Your extended leg and your torso should make a narrow V shape.
- Hold for about five breaths and then release and set up for the other side.
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