Ardha Baddha Padma Pashimottanasana is a forward bend that stretches both the hamstrings (of the front leg) and the thigh (quads and adductors of the back leg). Like all lotus and half lotus poses, take your time and be gentle with the knees. Trying to force your way into the poses can lead to problems down the road.
Starting from Dandasana, bend the right leg and swing the knee out to the side and down. By first releasing the adductors in this way, you reduce the stress on the knee in the final pose. Point the right foot and then bring the right heel in toward the naval (as close as you can get it) and the toes in toward the hip with the sole of the foot facing upwards. The higher up in the hip you can get the foot, the easier it will be to find the bind. The left leg stays extended with the knee and the toes pointing straight up.
Extend the right arm out to the side, then reach around the back with the right palm facing back. Take ahold of the big toe with the index and middle finger. Don’t force the bind. It is better to continue working in other poses to open the hips and shoulders then to try and force your way into the bind, potentially damaging the knee ligaments. Be patient.
If you can comfortably take the bind, bring the right knee down toward the floor at about a 45 degree angle. Extend the femur out away from the hip socket and make sure that knee isn’t strained. Inhale and reach up with the left arm. Square the hips and the shoulders to the extended left leg and with an exhale reach forward for the left foot. Bend first at the hips keeping a straight spine, then you can bend a little at the waist, making sure not to strain the lower back. Try and reach the belly over the right foot. Keep the sitbones grounded and spread and draw the shoulder blades lightly down the back.
Stay for at least 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat for the same amount of time on the second side.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!