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To further challenge the hip flexors, release the hands from the thighs and draw them either:
*parallel to the legs, fingers reaching towards the toes or
*perpendicular to the body, palms down, pressing from the heart out through the fingertips.
Next bus stop:
Inhale deeply. As you exhale, ground through the hips and press out through the heels lifting the heels and stretching the legs straight. Tone the lower belly, but do not harden the lower belly as you hold this pose. This variation is really working those hip flexors, and you may feel strain in the front of your thighs. Remember to honor your body, finding challenge, but not pain.
A partner can help you keep your back straight and shoulders firm on the back. Have your partner stand slightly behind you on your mat with knees slightly bent. As you press back, your partner can move forward so that your thoracic spine (from the shoulder blades upward) is gently touching their thighs. Use this benchmark to remind you to pull your chest up and away from their thighs as you balance.
Moving from the bent knee variation to the straight leg variation can be challenging. Place a strap around the arch of both feet in Baddha Konasana. Use the strap as an extension of your hands, allowing you to assist the legs as you stretch them straight. Keep in mind that your intention is to challenge the hip flexors, not the shoulders, which will require your legs to do most of the work while the strap assists in the pose. Practice releasing the strap slightly for brief periods while you hold the pose until you are able to straighten your legs and keep your chest lifted without the strap.