How do you get into this pose:
You can come into this pose via the Trikonasana (simple triangle pose).
As in Trikonasana, you will be focusing on hips opening, chest opening, plus you will have to concentrate on your core pelvic muscles as well, as they need to engage so that the leg can move freely.
Once you are in Trikonasana, you can bend you right knee front; place your right hand on the floor, in front of your right foot.
Tuck in your pelvis/core muscles (lock the Mula Bandha and the Uddiyana Bandha).
Lift the left leg up, parallel to the floor, this will act as an active counterbalance; in fact if you tipp your left leg backwards you will easily lose your balance.
Your dristi point of your right thumb.
If you cannot reach the pose right away, you can start by leaning against the wall; the wall will carry some of your weight. Once you feel stabilized, you can come off the wall and hold the position for 5 breaths.
You come down to the starting position exactly the way you came in; then you repeat on the other side (right foot on the floor; lifted leg is the left one).
What happens to your body during this pose:
Your pelvis area must be all engaged, this means that your psoas and your pectineus muscles can tilt the hip slightly forward (‘tucked in”)
The muscles that run from the hip and along the thigh (the Sartorius, the longest muscle in the humain body) stabilize all together the leg (agonist and synergists).
The quadriceps are all engaged as they help in straightening the knee.
The calf muscles work eccentrically so that the foot on the floor can press against the floor and be the ground of the pose
Gluteus muscles and the Tensor Fascia Lata work together to lift the leg from the floor; the gluteus maximux work together with the psoas to keep the hip opened so that it does not swing back (or you will lose your balance and the pose would collapse!)
As for the standing leg, quadriceps and calf muscles are engaged to give stability to the foot which is in the air.
The lower back muscles bend the trunk over the standing leg, while the upper part is stretched.
The abdominal obliques allow the lower part of the trunk to bend over the standing leg.
Shoulders and arms:
The muscles along the side of the rib cage help to push away from the floor;
The Latissimo dorsi (from lower back to upper arm) is contracted so that the chest can open (twisting movement).
Triceps help straightening the elbows.
The deltoids help lift the arms away form the body side.
The trapezius muscles engage so that the chest can open and allow shoulders to be away from the neck.
This pose helps you strengthening your core abs muscles, helps you opening and twisting your chest and by doing so you stimulate your pancreas (digestive system), adrenal glands and gonads (endocrine system)
Surprisingly, once you come out of this pose you may feel a sense of ‘joy’ and ‘lightness’. Maybe because by stimulating the adrenal glands it affects the production of cortisol, which is linked to stress response, and the increase of blood glucose level.