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I have a yoga nerd confession to make.

I LOVE the straight-legged yoga sit up during the floor series.

There’s so much to love!

I love the head to toe stretch when we first set it up.

I love the challenge of trying to keep my heels on the ground.

I love how I can feel my hamstrings lengthening with each successive repetition.

I love how the sharp, quick, double exhale psyches me up for the next posture.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling low-energy during class, I tell myself, “Let’s!” during the first exhale and “Go!” during the second. After letting myself relax completely during savasana, the sit-up refocuses and reenergizes my body and mind. This comes in especially handy just before Camel Pose.

Did you know that we do 14 sit-ups during every 90-minute class? Lucky us!

Technically, the sit-up is not one of the 26 postures. However, doing each one with precision and effort has  valuable physical and energetic benefits for your practice. If you are someone who views the sit-ups as an annoying, repetitive way to transition from savasana to asana, this is the month to change your mind. Maybe you’ll end January loving the sit-ups as much as I do!

Benefits of the sit-up:

  • Strengthens and tones the abdomen
  • Massages abdominal organs
  • Realigns and increases the flexibility of the spine
  • Stretches the hamstrings, calf muscles, and lower back
  • Energizes the body for the next posture

Tips for Practice:

  • VERY IMPORTANT: If you have back pain, skip the sit-up. Roll over onto your side, and push yourself up to a seated position. Set up for the next posture from there.
  • Follow the teacher word by word, and move as a class into the sit-up. When we move together, we build group energy, which supports everyone through the end of the floor series.
  • Flex your feet toward your face, but leave your heels on the floor. Lock your legs.
  • Pay attention to your upper extremities during the set-up. Thumbs are crossed, but your hands are not interlocked. Arms are touching with your ears.
  • Individual steps are described below, but the sit-up should be done in one, fluid, continuous motion.
  • On the inhale, engage your abdominal muscles. Suck your stomach in. Use that strength and the momentum of your arms to sit up, keeping your arms with your ears.
  • As you exhale, simultaneously reach for your toes, tuck your chin, contract your abdominal muscles, and try to touch your forehead to your knees.
  • It’s natural for your upper body to bounce back up again. This is where the “double exhale” or “double jerk” comes in. On one last sharp exhale, bring your forehead closer to your knees, and pull your elbows to the floor.
  • Pause very briefly at the end of the second exhale. You should feel stretching down the backs of both legs.
  • If you absolutely cannot sit up at first, you can lift your feet up off the floor and use the momentum as they come back down to begin the motion. Over time, you’ll develop the abdominal strength you need.
  • Put in maximum effort, but be patient about results.

–Ellen Olson-Brown, The Hot Yoga Factory Chelmsford



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