Krounchasana – the extended leg resembles the neck and head of a bird in this posture. It stretches the hamstring muscles and limbers the hips, knees and ankles.
1. Sit in seated staff posture. Bend the left knee and bring the left foot beside the left hip with the toes pointing straight back or slightly inward but NOT outward. Lean to the right and take your left thumb to the top of your calf muscles. Use the thumb to roll the calf muscle out to the side and iron it down toward the heel. Sit erect once again and press down through the right sitting down to keep the weight equally distributed between both buttocks. The top of the big and little toes should be touching the floor, the knees only just a few centimetres apart. Take note of how your right ankle feels at this stage, stop if experience pain. Try placing some padding under the top of the foot of the bent leg.
2. Bend the right knee and bring it close to the trunk. Hold the right heel with both hands. Straighten the right leg vertically. While doing so use your hands to press down on the heel as if you want to shorten the distance between the right heel and the sitting bone. While it may seem contradictory, this actually helps straighten the leg.
3. Adhere right thigh muscles to the thigh bone and open the back of the right knee, keeping the right leg (neck of the Heron) straight and long. Lifting from the tailbone, Curve in the lower back and slowly bring the chin to the right shin, looking up toward your right foot. If possible, Grasp the left wrist with the right hand. Don’t round the back or collapse the chest. Keep the right leg centred. Stay for 10 breaths.
4. Exhale, bring the right leg down and straighten the left leg. Take a moment to release the muscles then repeat on the other side.
Effect: Challenging, calming
In yoga we use a counter pose in a sequence; For example, a twist follows a backbend to “neutralise” the spine, or a forward bend follows a backbend to help lengthen the spine and calm the nervous system.