YOGA POSES TO IMPROVE YOUR ZENKUTSU DACHI AND RELIEVE LOWER BACK PAIN (1/3) Lets look closer to one of the most used stance in our basics, forward leaning Zenkutsu dachi. This is a long stance where the weight is mostly on the front foot. Your back foot is turned out 30 degrees from the center line, front foot parallel to the back foot. Your front knee is over the ankle and back leg is straight. Both feet are firmly pressing towards the ground. Your feet are slightly wider than hip-width apart for better balance and hip movement. Now lets look at the prerequisites for a proper Zenkutsu dachi;
  1. Strong quads and glutes to hold your weight down and forward,
  2. Flexibility of the hips for a lower and longer stance,
  3. Mobility of the hips for better expansion and contraction,
  4. Flexibility of the ankles to ground the back heel down for stability and power.
Here are some yoga poses that can help you with the flexibility required for a good Zenkutsu dachi. IMPORTANT NOTE: Please make sure your body is warmed up before getting into stretches. Move slowly and mindfully at all times. Feeling tight muscle pain is normal but having sharp pain is NOT! Always listen to your body.  
Start on your hands and knees (table top position), hips directly above your knees and shoulders over your hands. Spread your fingers wide apart, pressing through the whole hands then tuck your toes under. Press your toes towards the floor, push on to your hands to lift your hips up towards the ceiling. Straighten your knees as much as it is available to you; then press your heels down one at a time stretching your hamstrings and calf muscles. Relax your neck and let your head hang freely or look towards your thighs. Pull the navel in and stretch your chest towards your toes for a nice shoulder opener. Breathe deeply.  
From downward facing dog, extend one leg up and swing it forward and step it between your hands. Press firmly through your front foot and reach your back leg as far back as possible while keeping your front knee directly over the ankle. Relax your back toes flat on the mat then gently push your hips down and forward towards the floor. Make sure your hips are still square. You can choose to keep your hands up, on the knees, or on the floor. to be continued… Namaste! Kohai Savas