Gorilla Pose (Padahastasana)

Gorilla is a deep forward bend, deeper than Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasa) because our hands are slipped beneath the feet (Pada = Foot, Hast = Hand.) Gorilla is excellent for releasing tension in the back and shoulders. It helps alleviate stomach upset and PMS Symptoms; it slows the heartbeat, rejuvenates the spinal nerves and brings plenty of blood to the head, which helps alleviate depressed moods and calms anxiety.

To get into the pose we begin at Mountain; arms high, chest proud, abdominals strong; swan dive forward, hinging at the hips, maintain a nice flat back until your arms are hanging down, hands at mat; bend the knees as much as necessary to get the hands onto the mat.

From here lift your toes up and tuck your hands beneath our feet, toes massage the wrists (it is better to honor the lengthened spine and sacrifice the straight legs than to force the hamstrings and hunch the back.) With our hands and feet now married we begin using our biceps actively, BUT GENTLY, in order to pull the crown of our head closer to the earth. Place the weight of your body onto the balls of your feet and use a combination of gravity and gentle strength to push your edge.

Gravity should be the prime force in this pose. Pulling on the hamstrings only creates unnecessary tension on the Psoas and Rectus Femoris. Focus on creating the necessary space for growth rather than forcing limitations. Life isn’t made any easier if your hamstrings are longer, but it is made far more difficult if they are torn. Softening the knees will help you make space in the hips which in turn will allow the back muscles to soften and release more so. Consider other things in life that might grow if you created some space rather than forcing.

Use the In-Breath to expand, the  Out-Breath to deepen. This natural expansion and contraction will finesse your boundaries safely. Allow yourself enough time to let the tension release layer by layer from your neck and shoulders.

I find in a typical yoga class they never hold Gorilla long enough for the full benefit. Just as my vertebrae feel like they are re-aligning themselves and releasing it’s time to move on. With this in mind, Gorilla is an excellent posture to take after a stressful day or during regular breaks to keep things long and free from knots.