Begin by laying on your back in Supta Padangusthasana or Reclined Big Toe Pose. Place the ball of one foot in a bathrobe belt holding the ends separately in each hand. Lift the leg toward the ceiling deeply flexing the foot.

Flex Hands and Feet

Pull the toes back toward the shin reaching the heel closer to the ceiling than the toes. This action intensifies the stretch from the Achilles tendon all the way to the lower back.

Now come into Virabhadrasana I or Warrior I with the back foot open no more than 30 to 45 degrees. Draw the pubic bone toward your frontal lower ribs to protect the lower back. Note the flex of the ankle in the back foot.

Deepen the bend in the front knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor. How does the front leg affect your back leg? Did the arch in your back foot collapse? Did the back knee soften? Did you lose the stretch in the back leg? Rather than the back of the front knee, strengthen the back leg by grounding the heel into the floor.

Recall the heel pushing into the bathrobe belt in the previous asana or pose. Are you pushing the heel as hard as you can into the floor? Go deeper, and you will stretch from the Achilles tendon all the way up to the lower back.

The same principle can be applied by deeply flexing the hands. Begin in Utthita Balasana or Extended Child Pose. Draw your sits bones toward your heels, straighten the elbows, and wrap your shoulder muscles.

Lift only your fingers toward the ceiling deeply flexing the hands at the wrist joint. When flexing the hands, we intensify the stretch from the wrists to the obliques. Remember that deeply flexing the hands is a tool to lengthen the torso. Do not overfly the hands as the wrists can tire from this action.

Return to Virabhadrasana I raising the arms overhead with the palms facing forward. Draw the pubic bone toward your frontal lower ribs to protect the lower back. Maintain the actions in your legs which you applied in the third paragraph.

Now deeply flex the hands drawing the fingertips toward your forearms pushing the heels of your palms toward the ceiling.

Go deeper and you will intensify the stretch from the wrists all the way to the shoulders, underarms and chest. By combining the flexed back foot and hands in Virabhadrasana I you will lengthen the obliques. Feel the torso stretch to a new length.

Our front body represents what we show the world, our public face, our facade. Our back body holds our true emotions. The right side of the body is masculine, and the left side of the body is the feminine.

When we stretch all of it, we bring all four qualities into balance. The public self, the private self, the masculine and the feminine selves. In the words of Oscar Wilde, "Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken."
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