This may look like a bendy person just lying down – and I suppose that's what it is – but manoeuvring yourself into Supta Vajrasana pose (or Fixed Firm Pose) is a lot easier said than done. It’s unlikely that, unless you’re extremely flexible, you’ll be able to pull this off first time, but it's worth persevering with as addresses two issues every runner has - tight ankles and hips. Here’s how to do it. Struggling? Look for easier alternatives in the brackets.
Supta Vajrasana: Step by Step
1. Kneel down on the floor, knees slightly apart and bum resting on heels. (If you can't manage this kneel back as far as you can and rest your hands on the floor to support your weight).
2. Move your feet apart (tops of feet resting on the floor and toes pointing backwards) to create a space and try and lower your bum to the floor in between your legs.
3. Lean back and rest your elbows on the floor either side of your legs, then slowly lower down to resting on your forearms (if you can’t do this remain either with your elbows or hands resting on the floor)
NB: for most runners this part will be as far as you can go at first. Keep practising this pose, each time trying to move down a little further until you are supple enough to continue on to the moves below.
4. Lower your shoulders so that your knees are completely bent and you are resting with your shoulder blades and head on the floor. Arch your back to help achieve this.
5. Finally, try and reach back with your arms so that they are resting on the floor above your head, grasping the opposite elbow loosely with your hands.
Supta Vajrasana: The Benefits
Phew, that was an effort and a half wasn’t it? I could almost hear the popping of knee joints and twanging of hip flexors from here. But the good news, according to Olga Allon, director of Hot Bikram Yoga, is that no matter how bad you are at this pose, simply doing as much as you can will improve your flexibility massively.
“Supta Vajrasana is really hard to do,’ she says, “and almost all runners have tight ankle joints and inflexible knee joints from all that pounding – not to mention tight quads and hips. And those are the muscles you need to work in order to progress at this pose. It will hurt at first - especially round the ankles which are often neglected - but if you do a little each day you’ll quickly see an improvement not only in the pose but in the level of your running.
“It mobilizes your joints, lengthens your thigh muscles, and stretches out the vertebrae in your back to give you the desired S-shape spine, which means you’ll run easier and stronger with better posture.”
And it’ll make you awesome at the limbo too...
Bikram specialist Olga Allon teaches at London's Hot Bikram Yoga.