This standing forward fold is also known by the name “Intense Side Stretch” and, yes, it is a strong stretch for the legs (hamstrings and calf muscles), hips, lower back and the arms. Working to keep stability in the pose as you fold forward requires a lot of focus and balance.
This pose usually gets sequenced towards the end of your standing work after the external rotating poses (such as Warrior II, Triangle and Extended Side Angle). Often you may practice Pyramid directly before Revolved Triangle pose (Parivritta Trikonasana).
How to get into the pose:
From Mountain Pose step your left foot back about three feet. Your right foot should be facing 12 o’clock and your left foot turned in.
Aim to have your hips facing forward (squared). You can move your feet wider to help this to happen.
Behind your back take hold of opposite wrists, elbows or bring your hands into a reverse namaste (prayer) with your little fingers resting on your spine.
Inhale to lift your chest and draw your shoulders back
Exhale to fold forward, hinging from your hips. Come to half way in the first instance. Keep your legs straight and try to keep your pelvis and sacrum level
Inhale to send the crown of your head forward and your tailbone back. On your next exhale you might feel you can deepen the fold to draw down over your right leg.
Draw your abdominal muscles in and up (engage uddiyana bandha)
Take deep breaths
Inhale to come up back to standing and exhale your left foot forward back to Mountain Pose.
Repeat the pose on the left side.
Remember to create the balance between effort and ease in your pose.
How long to stay in the pose:
Five breaths on each side
Modifications you can take to make this pose more accessible:
Use blocks under your hands to raise the floor
It is worth practicing the reverse prayer variation with the hands as this will build flexibility in the wrists
Contraindications / Cautions:
Be cautious if you have a lower back injury or any problems with wrists or ankles
Be cautious when folding forward if you have low blood pressure