This hip-opener requires an ability to externally rotate the hip of the bent leg, as well as the flexibility of the hamstring and lower back of the extended leg to be able to fold forward in this pose.
When you get into this asana, it is important that your hips are flexible enough to avoid any injuries in your knee’s ligaments. If you have any type of pain on the knees (specially the inner ligament) while doing this posture, it would be advisable to first practice other hip-opening asanas before attempting to practice Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana.
If this pose is already part of your daily practice, here are a few tips that may help open your hips even deeper:
1. Press the knee down, away from the hips. Create an external rotation in the femur, and then squeeze the knee towards the midline of the body.
*Modification: If the knee is too far from the floor, use a towel or a block underneath the knee to avoid pressure in the inner ligaments as you fold forward.
2. Press the hand down towards the foot. This, along with the external rotation on the femur bone, will create a deeper opening on the hip.
3. Level the shoulders. This will ensure a balanced stretch on the spine, as well as help you open the shoulder (pectoralis muscle) of the binding arm.
4. Internally rotate the extended leg. This action will allow you to ground the sitting bones down to the floor as you fold forward. Also, this will promote a stronger pelvic floor (Mula Bandha) activation.
*For more information on Mula Bandha, check out this link: http://www.itsyogasatellite.com/2016/08/01/finding-mula-bandha/
5. Keep the front foot activated, and gaze towards your front toes. Use your gaze to direct the stretch.
These simple tips can help get you deeper into your Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana in a safe and effective way. If you have any questions with regards to the Ashtanga practice, feel free to let us know as we are always happy to help.
Have a good practice!
It’s Yoga Satellite team