Foot-Behind-the-Head Pose stretches the hamstrings and is an amazing hip opener. It strengthens the back, shoulders and neck while also stimulating the abdominal organs, helping relieve digestive issues.
HOW TO DO IT:
To prepare for the intense stretch of Foot-Behind-the-Head Pose, do a series of forward bends and hip openers. Try the Low Lunge and One-Legged King Pigeon Pose. Remember to listen to your body and respect its needs.
Begin in Staff Pose (Dandasana) by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your left knee, picking your left foot off the floor with both hands. Lift your foot to the center of your forehead. Move your left hand to your calf, bringing your knee and calf toward and onto your shoulder. Lift your chest. Breathe and take note of how you feel.
Roll the outside of your left hip toward the floor as you lift your leg so that your left foot is above your head. Lean forward slightly and duck your head as you position your left ankle behind your head. Lift your head back up, pressing the back of your head into your ankle. Use your hand to roll your left calf away from your shoulder. You may need to keep ahold of your leg to keep it from slipping away from your neck.
Lift your chest as much as you can while respecting your body's needs. Move patiently and breathe through the pose, noticing where you feel tightness.
If you're able to, let go of your leg and bring your hands to the front of your chest in Salutation Seal or namaste. Continue to press into the floor with your right thigh. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, or however long is comfortable for you. To come out of the pose, use both hands to lift your left foot from behind your neck. Gently return it to the floor next to your right leg. Place your hands on either side of your hips and rest in Staff Pose for a few breaths. Repeat on the other side. Remember to breathe.
If you're feeling tight in your back after completing Foot-Behing-the-Head Pose, try doing Wheel Pose. Remember, Foot-Behind-the-Head Pose is an advanced pose. Respect where your body is coming from and feel good about where you are currently.