King Arthur’s Pose
King Arthur’s Pose is not one of the most common poses. I have yet to even find a Sanskrit name for it or why it’s named so. As it uses a wall, this pose is not usually found in a flow class unless the instructor has planned ahead. Since the wall is one of my favourite props, this is one of my favourite poses to both practice and to teach. King Arthur’s pose targets the front of the quadriceps in a deep, delicious way. The lunge variation stretches the iliopsoas (what people commonly refer to as the hip flexors). Both variations are great general poses for runners, walkers, those who sit at a desk, those who drive … pretty much everyone. Both are also wonderful preparations for backbends.
I often say this is a pose I ‘hate to love’. The sensations can be intense but the benefits are well worth it. Keep in mind the intention of the pose is the stretch in the front of the leg, so it ultimately doesn’t matter how close your hips are to the wall or how deep your lunge is. Everyone will find their own sweet spot in both variations. Remember to keep breathing and let the muscles slowly open over time.
Before you begin:
• This pose is best with some height under your knee. Even if you don’t need to cushion the knee on the floor, the height levels the hips. A thin foam block, tightly rolled yoga mat or folded blanket can all do the trick.
• If the tops of your feet don’t like a lot of pressure, you can use another foam block (as shown), a yoga mat, or even a spare article of clothing, to add some cushion between the top of your foot and the wall.
To come into the pose:
• Start facing away from a wall, on your hands and knees (tabletop), toes curled under and the soles of your feet touching the wall. Have your props within reach.
• Bend the right foot towards your right hip and start to bring your bent right knee to the base of the wall. Place a foam block or folded blanket under the right knee.
• Slide the right shin and top of the foot up the wall vertically, toes pointing straight up. If you’d like, place a second foam block or cushion between the top of your foot and the wall.
• Step your left foot out onto the floor, stacking the ankle directly under the knee. Put slightly more weight in the heel of your left foot to keep the left knee energy from moving forward over your ankle.
• On in inhale, lengthen the torso and find a neutral pelvis.
• While pressing the top of the right foot into the wall and keeping the weight in the left heel, on an inhale, use your pelvis to lift your torso off your left thigh.
Using your pelvis to start the movement keeps the pelvis neutral and avoids compression in the lower back.
Your fingertips can remain on the floor (1) or on blocks, your hands can move onto your left knee (2) or you can move deeper and bring the hips toward the wall, raising both arms over head (3).
• On each inhale, continue to lengthen the torso. Relax into the sensations in the thigh.
• To move even deeper, work towards bringing the entire back body against the wall and taking the right foot just outside of the right hip (like in Virasana). Be mindful to not just arch your back and press just the shoulders to the wall.
• Hold the pose for 5-20 breaths
• Bring your hands back onto your left knee, onto blocks or bring your fingertips back onto the floor.
• On an inhale, lengthen the torso. While keeping the weight in your right heel, on an exhale, press your hips towards the floor as in a low lunge.
• On each inhale, continue to lengthen the torso, keeping the pelvis neutral.
• Hold the pose for 5-20 breaths.
To come out of the pose:
• Bring your hands down to the floor and take your right shin off the wall. When ready, repeat on the other side.
About the instructor
Kris started ‘dabbling’ in yoga in 1998 but her practice really started in 2006. Completing her YTT 200 in Calgary in 2012 under Kevin Elander and Hart Lazer, Kris’ focus is on alignment, breath and stability to create grace and strength. She encourages her students to practice, try, tip over, try again, smile, play and laugh in her classes.