STEPS: From Sukhasan simple sitting position maintain the folded left leg in front so that the left lower leg from knee to ankle is parallel (or almost parallel) to the front edge of your yoga mat. Take the right leg back and maintain it straight — the right thigh, knee, shin, ankle and toes to be in contact with the floor as shown. With elbows straight place your palms flat on the floor in front of your left leg and take a pause to adjust the position of the legs for comfort.
Finally look up as your arch your neck. Push your chest forward. Breathe normal here for a few breathing cycles and then bend forward moving your palms away from you till your elbows are flat on the floor, forearms extended as shown and your forehead touches the floor (advanced). If you can’t bring your forehead down you can fold your elbows and prop your chin on your hands as you look forward (easy version).
Later as you get more flexible you may want to stack your forearms on each other to rest your forehead (medium version). Release slowly as you come out of the pose walking your hands back and then slowly release legs in reverse sequence and switch legs. In the final version of Eka Pada Rajakapotasan I the arms are taken over the head to clasp the folded back leg (not shown here)
Tighten the glute (buttock) of your extended leg for maximizing the hip flexor and quadriceps stretch and lean your body weight into the extended leg instead of into the folded leg as may be the general tendency.
This pose is good for the lower spine and the pubis as well as the urinary system. The neck and shoulder get a greater stretch in the advanced version. The Thyroid, Parathyroid, Adrenals and Gonads receive oxygenated blood from the stretching (when looking up and arching the neck before bending forward) and vitality is improved. I recommend this pose to rejuvenate as the hip flexor and quadriceps get an intense stretch thus overhauling the lower body. It’s good for people who walk/stand/dance/march/run for long hours. The forward fold in this variation stretches the back and helps with digestion due to the contraction in the stomach.
Chronic knee pain. The lateral flexion of the knee is not a natural position and may stress a weak knee. You can do this if your knees feel fine.
(Anshu Vyas Seetharaman is a yoga and fitness trainer at Sri Aurobindo Society, Bengaluru)