Ardha Uttanasana / half-intense stretch

(standing forward bend)

Take a chair and some yoga blocks (or large books) and a firm blanket (cotton if possible).

* Place blocks on to the chair seat at mid-thigh height and a neatly folded blanket on top.
* Face the chair seat with the back furthest from you.
* Place your hands on to the top of the chair’s back rest with palms facing one another, little finger side of the hand facing down.
* Step your feet back from the chair so that hips are above your ankles (ankles are fractionally farther back than your hips).
* Rest the forehead on the lift on the seat.
* Lift the knee caps up and pull the top of the thigh bones back.
* Pull the front body towards the chair in opposition to the legs.
* Keep the side ribs in and breast bone forwards.
* If the back is dipped and ribs jut towards the floor, make sure that the shoulders are not over stretched at the back.
* Ensure the little finger side of the hands are parallel to the floor.
* If the back is humped up towards the ceiling, increase the height of the lift (and chair back if possible).
* Stretch the front body forwards, legs backwards.
* Keep the outer hips in and inner groins up.
* Stay for 10 to 20 breaths.
* Come up by walking towards the chair.


One day you finally knew
What you had to do, and began,
Though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice -

though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,

— Mary Oliver