Iyengar's difficulty rating: 3* out of 60*
- Kneel on the floor with your thighs and feet together. Point your toes back.
- Place your palms on your hips. Stretch your hips forward, lift your chest up, curl your spine back, and extend your ribs.
- On an exhale, place your palms on your heels or the soles of your feet.
- Push your palms into your feet, "throw the head back," and push your spine forward and up. Keep your thighs straight up and down, perpendicular to the floor.
- Engage your glutes, deepen the stretch, and remain in the pose for 30 seconds.
- To exit, place one hand on your hip, then the other. Rise up, then sit on your heels.
- Iyengar's thighs and feet are together, as he recommends in his technique. I have kept mine at the width of my hips. This helps me feel more stable and leaves more space for my shoulders and hips in this pose.
This pose is a great example of how Iyengar's difficulty ratings do not always reflect the experience of yoga students. In Denver, Ustrasana is usually considered a very challenging pose, and many students find that it flares their low back pain. So take these difficulty ratings with a grain of salt and listen carefully to your own body!