Standing Separate Leg Stretching Head to Knee pose culminates our work to combine many of the benefits and challenges of our standing series practice. This pose, when done correctly, challenges the practitioner to balance while dropping the head below the heart, activate deep core strength to curl the forehead to knee, all the while stretching the limbs of the arms and legs from our center.
Begin standing with your feet and legs together, arms down at your sides. Inhale your arms overhead sideways and bring your hands together, in prayer position over your head. Take a big step out to the side with your right foot (about 3 ft. distance). Shift on both heels to square yourself off to the front of the room.
Root your feet into the ground, and twist your left hip forward a few inches until you feel your hips straight forward and squared off. Keep your arms long by your ears, stretched to the ceiling, with your hands still in prayer position. Use your belly to engage a full breath, stretching up to the ceiling to open and lengthen the spine. Moving from the strength of your abdomen, slowly start to curl down the front side of your body, reaching your hands to floor on either side of your right foot. Separate your hands and use your fingertips to help you balance. Keep your feet flat to the floor to help stretch the legs.
Tuck your chin to your throat and begin the journey of trying to bring your forehead to touch your front knee (right leg knee). This is the most difficult part of the pose to master, but the most important to try to achieve…each and every practice.
To make this task a little more attainable, you can bend your front leg knee to help shorten the gap between your forehead and knee. Keep an eye on your back hip to make sure your not losing the alignment. Remember, in the perfect posture, your two hips are in one line, one not higher than the other, while your forehead is on the knee. Keep trying to bring your head to knee, exhaling deeply to find the necessary core strength contraction.
Slowly lengthen your arms again, bringing your hands back into prayer position. Keep your hips squared forward in alignment as you slowly start to uncurl your spine, bone by bone, and come up to stand. Slowly pivot all the way around so the left leg leads, and start the other side.
There are so many ‘goods’ to this pose! In full expression (which is when you apply full effort and focus), you are stimulation deep, therapeutic, detoxifying action within the vital cavity of the body. We have the potential to stretch the lungs and kidneys by rounding the back body so deeply in our attempt to bring the forehead to knee. By applying effort to the deep curl, we also contract and stimulate the liver, pancreas, stomach, and spleen. Bringing the chin to the throat helps to balance and regulate our thyroid gland, all the while we work our limbs and core muscles to balance our body’s weight and parts in this very challenging pose. Remember that in yoga, practice is practice. We are not seeking perfection, but we are seeking to make our efforts as perfect as possible. This pose, particularly, exemplifies that truth. Bring the effort to your practice, and your body, mind, and spirit will unfold in ways your never imagined possible.