Stretching Posture (Paschimottanasana, pictured above left) and Forehead to Knee Posture (Janushirasana, pictured above right) are often grouped together and thought of as similar postures. It seems like one is just the two-legged version of the other. But they work differently in the body, targeting completely different layers of the tissue system.
Stretching Posture lengthens the back of the body in a straight line, more or less. Up the back of the legs via the hamstrings and up the back via the erectors of the spine. This is pictured above in figure "a."
The defining characteristic of Forehead to Knee Posture is the bent leg. The hip rotates and opens (abducts) while the knee bends. That is how we get the foot near the groin. This action completely changes the tissue relationships on the back of the hip and pelvis. It lengthens the gluteus maximus (butt muscle) and tightens the IT (ilio-tibial) tract, a super tough band of tissue that runs down the outside of the leg and across the knee. See figure "b" above.
Next time you do Forehead to Knee Posture, pay attention to your bent hip, knee and the outside of the leg. Notice the relationship between the leg and the spine. It is more complex than Stretching Posture.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga. This blog is about their experience with yoga practice, study and teaching.
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