When you do a lot of one legged balancing postures, as we do in my classes, it is a good idea to do something like gomukhasana to balance out some of the strength you are cultivating in the hips.
If you cannot do gomukhasana then sit cross legged. If you cannot sit cross-legged without feeling at ease, then try diamond sitting (legs out like a diamond in front of you. Or else, sit on something that raises your bottom up off the floor until it is slightly higher than your knees.
I made this video for a student who wanted some active hip work between classes and who wanted some active shoulder work. When she mentioned hips and shoulder opening it was this pose I thought of.
We talked about it and practiced after class. First she showed me how she came into it herself then I suggested the modifications mentioned in the video. It helped her bring her hands together in the posture without force and also helped her work actively rather than passively. This means she does not need to hold the pose for as long, which is good since most people cannot spend several hours a day doing yoga!
Watch the video then follow the instructions. Do not force. As you see in the video I take myself into the posture without using my hands. If your lower back is unstable you might support yourself with your hands to come into this posture so you do not drop into your lower back (Tilak I am thinking of you).
No hands entry
Lengthen your spine and lean back. Use your hands behind you to support lift in your spine if you need. Get your legs up and going. Your tummy should firm naturally. It won't if you just drop back and sink into your lower back so maintain the lift.
Cross the legs over and pause.
Bend knees, sit, and lengthen spine
Bend your knees and come into position. Then lengthen the spine from the front surface (from the organ side of your spine). Go from the base to the top.
Use your feet to press down into the ground and away from one another. It is sort of as though you are trying to lengthen the legs but they don't move. You should feel some activation in the outer hips.
Press the knees into one another.
Maintain some firmness behind each knee as though you might squeeze two fingers there (always do this when your knees are bent).
The video shows this fluid spiralling movement to take the top arm into position. It is done without force or strain. The whole shoulder and scapula should be freely moving. You can keep circling it as long as you want until you feel ready to take it fluidly into position.
Follow the same flowing movements to bring the bottom arm into position.
There is no need to bring the hands together to clasp. If they do not come together comfortably do not force. Let it be. No need to fuss around with straps and the like. Just make fists with your hands and bend your fists towards the front of your forearms (the side that does not see the sun!)
Clasp if comfortable and remember...
Of course you can clasp if that feels ok for you.
Remember that the spine needs to stay lengthened. Many people push their ribs out in front of them, which can squish the lower back so be mindful of this.
You can have a nice neck release in this posture if you move the back of your head into your top forearm and your forearm into the back of your head. But this is best learned from a teacher so if you have no idea what I am talking about then wait until you see me in class and ask!
Happy and safe practicing!