Heron Pose is great hamstring stretch, but should be avoided by anyone suffering from knee or ankle problems.
Start seated in Dandasana.
Bend the left knee towards your chest and swing your left foot to the side placing the top of the foot facing the floor next to your left sitting bone as the knee drops down to the floor – coming into an Ardha Virasana leg. Both knees should be next to each other now. To get more comfortable you can grab your left calf muscles and press them out to the side a bit to create more space for the fold of the leg.
Bend the right knee, ground the foot on the floor.
Clasp your hands around your right foot, arms on each side of the leg.
Start raising the right foot and stretch the leg out and press the heel up towards the sky keeping the foot flexed.
Try to straighten your spine as much as you can, reaching the crown of your head up towards the sky. Explore if you can bring your upper body closer towards your leg keeping the raised foot flexed and straight. Gaze up towards your right foot.
If you feel a bit uncomfortable in your left knee (the bent leg) or if you struggle to ground both sitting bones you can sit on a block, bolster or folded blanket.
If you are unable to straighten the leg use a strap under the sole of the foot and walk your hands up gripping the belt as close to the foot as you can.
- Stretches the front of the ankle, knee joints and hamstrings.
- This pose stimulates the abdominal organs which tones the core and improves digestion.
- Improves stability and focus of the mind.
- The forward fold calms the nervous system and reduces stress and anxiety.
- Those with ankle, knee or hip injuries should avoid this pose.
- You might want to avoid this pose if you are unable to keep the spine straight (even with a block under your seat) and feel some discomfort in your lower back specially if you suffer from sciatica, spondylitis or other back/disc problems.