• Sitting in Staff Pose (Dandasana), bend your right knee and place your foot next to your hip, into Half Hero Pose (Ardha Virasana). Sit on a folded blanket or block if you have any discomfort in your knee and so that you can ground through both of your sitting bones, • Bend your left knee and take hold of the left foot with both hands.
• Firm your shoulder blades on your back, open the chest and on an inhalation begin to straighten your left leg, while keeping the spine long.
• Once your leg is straight, exhale as you bring it closer to the chest.
• Hold for around 5 breaths and release the leg as you exhale. Repeat on the other side.
• Work on Hero Pose (Virasana) and forward folds first to prepare for the full pose.
• Place a strap around the sole of your foot, or hold your hands around the thigh, so you can work with partially stretching the leg. Make sure your chest stays open so you are not rounding in the upper back.
• Stretches the thigh, ankle, and shin of the bent leg. • Stretches the back of the straight leg, from the hamstrings up to the Achilles tendon. • Improves core stability.
Watch out for...
• If you have ankle or knee problems, place the foot of the bent leg against your inner thigh in Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana) instead of Half Hero (Ardha Virasana).
• Pay attention to maintain the natural curves in your back, and to keep your spine long.
• Go slowly with Heron Pose if you have tight hamstrings, you can keep the extended leg bent, use a strap around the foot, or hold around the thigh with the leg further away from you.
Variations • Add a twist to this pose. Take the outside of the raised leg with the opposite hand. Use your other hand as support behind you. Allow the stretched leg to swing slightly to the opposite side as you exhale and twist the torso towards that leg. Hold for a few breaths and come out as you exhale.