The Bhima is a great side stretch, as well as an excellent toner for the quads, glutes and abdominals.
This posture is an extension of the lateral triangle: Utthita Trikonasana and it gives you a long side stretch, opening the intercostal muscles, the lungs and therefore the heart. It provides a much needed alignment between the crown of the head and the lower energy centres. This posture, particularly if used as part of a sequence such as the Inner Fire Sequence or the Vitality Sequence, really helps shift energy up through the spine. Both these sequences can be found in the book 'Dru Yoga; Stillness in Motion'.
You can also watch this posture on the Vitality Sequence video >
How to do this posture?
Separate your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. Feet facing forward. Turn your right knee out 90 degrees to the right and adjust your left heel - pushing it away from you to about 45 degrees. Hips face forwards.
To check your alignment, bend the right (leading) knee. Check that the knee does not 'overshoot' the ankle or rotate inward. Ideally have a 90 degree angle between the calf and thigh (see image above), therefore the knee and ankle should be in a vertical line. Adjust the width of the feet so that you feel strong and comfortable. To make this pose easier or during the first 3 days of your menstrual cycle, please keep the feet closer together (shoulder's width) with the knee and ankle in a vertical line. Release the stretch through the leg and stand facing forward.
Breathe in and raise the arms sideways up to shoulder height. Contract the core muscles in the lower abdomen and bend the right knee, sinking down into your full stretch. Allow the right arm to extend to the right, allowing the torso to also move to the right slightly. Once you have reached your maximum stretch keep the torso where it is and allow the right elbow to come down onto the right thigh (if necessary you can modify or adjust by placing the right hand onto the thigh). Allow the left arm to raise to vertical.
Keep the thighs and core muscles strong. Breathe in and with the out breath allow the left arm to raise up and overhead into the full stretch. You should have a straight line from your left little toe all the way through to your left fingers. If you wish you can turn your head to look up at your hand (be careful of your neck if you are tight here).
To come out of the Bhima posture turn your left palm to face down towards the earth. Turn your hips and left leg so you are facing fully towards the right. Lower the hands to the floor on either side of your right foot, then turn your body and feet towards the front, so you are in a wide legged, forward bend. Relax here for a moment as you relax the body. Walk the feet slightly closer together and when you feel ready, contract the core muscles and un-curl the spine raising your body back up to a standing position. Then repeat on the left side.
With this posture remember to keep your abdominal muscles gently contracted. Imagine you are between two panes of glass to keep the upper arm back in alignment. If necessary, place your hand onto your thigh instead of your elbow to ensure that your knee is directly above the ankle with a 90 degree angle between your calf and thigh. Also ensure your back foot, hip, arm and hand are all in one straight line.