So I must admit, I woke up this morning with crazy tight hips. I’ve been getting into circuit training bootcamp style in conjunction with my daily yoga practice and I must say my hips are truly feeling neglected. It’s more than just a few lunges a day that will allow you to gain that accessibility into your hips. This posting is going to break down three core hip stretches, with variation! From beginning to end (but there’s really no end when it comes to a yoga pose) wherever you are within your body you should be able to attempt the poses listed below and most importantly feel your body.
Straddle Forward Fold
Ahhhh, this pose is just yummy to me. After a long day sitting at a desk, driving or if you’re feeling lower back strain, getting yourself into a straddle forward fold can be extremely relieving. The pictures above simply show the evolution of the pose, you’re working to have your forehead/nose/chin on the ground but it’s not the ultimate goal. The goal of this pose is to elongate your spine and work on removing the curve from your back to be able to access the hips deeper.
Starting off siting on the ground spread your legs wide. Bring your fingertips out in front of you and pull the ground to your chest, feel a tractioning of your spine. If this is as far as you can go, perfect, stay here. Melt your chest to the ground but keep your spine long. I encourage staying here for at least 20-30 deep breaths. If you’re feeling more access in your hips continue to walk your fingertips forward keeping your spine long, no curves! Maybe you’re able to come down a few more inches, if not, this is your pose. Perhaps you’ve got a lot of accessibility in your hips, keep walking your fingers forward until your chest and stomach melt onto the ground. Arms long, straight spine. You’re here, now just breathe. Wherever you are in Straddle Forward Fold breathe, breathe, and breathe some more. At the minimum take 20-30 breathes once you’ve found your position. When coming out of the pose, walk your fingertips up and use your hands to bring your legs together.
Pigeon Pose (Part 1)
Pigeon Pose is going to get you even deeper into your hips, keep in mind that there are variations to every pose and be conscious of your body. Discomfort is different than pain. Breathing through discomfort helps us in yoga, and in our lives. Starting off in pigeon pose you want to work your(left) leg parallel with the front of the mat, if your leg isn’t going there (mine doesn’t) bring your foot closer to your groin, while extending your right leg back. Once your right leg is behind you, curl the toes under and see if you can crawl the toes back to elongate the legs just another inch or two. With your legs set up in pigeon pose and a tall spine, reach your hands forward of your knee, this, might be your pose. If you’re interested in reaching your arms forward, begin to work a long spine towards the ground as you fold over the front knee. Once you’re in Pigeon Pose Part 1, settle in for 25-50 breathes. Switch legs and see how your hips feel once your right leg moves forward, another 25-50 breathes. Now let’s work into Pigeon Pose Part 2…
Pigeon Pose Part 2
Part two works your hip flexibility along with your lower back strength. From Pigeon forward fold, work your torso up. See if you can lift your back leg (right) and slide your foot into the elbow crease of your right arm. This is a wonderful pigeon variation pose, work on lifting your chest up while feeling the back hamstring stretch. Next step from this variation is to reach both arms behind to grab the toes (this is an external rotation… if your shoulder aren’t used to being externally rotated you will have a difficult time gaining access to this variation). Once you grab the toes work the foot to the back of your head or to the top of your forehead. Hold this pose 5-8 breathes and carefully release your hands and back foot slowly. Attempt this pose on the left side and be conscious as to how your hips now feel.
Splits Part 1
The beauty of working on splits pose is you can use a prop to relieve your legs. Start off in getting your body into splits pose, separate your legs and work on balancing your hips. If you need a prop, blanket, bolster, or block, grab one! This pose right here, might just be where you are and that’s perfect. Your body needs time to adjust into deeper stretches. If you’re interested in working deeper, remove the props and work your legs down to the ground in full splits. Keep your fingertips by your side and continue to breathe. Work this pose for 15-25 breaths on your left side and then switch your legs and bring the right one in front. Keep in mind, THIS might be your pose.
Splits Pose Forward fold
Once your legs are on the ground in splits pose work your hands towards your feet in a forward fold. Keep in mind, long spine and continue to breathe. Once you’re in splits forward fold stay here for 8-15 breaths. When you’re ready to come up, use your hands to slowly walk your body upward to a straight spine and work your legs together. A great relief pose after splits is downward dog.
Feel free to tag me on Instagram (@FeinerThanU), or shoot me questions on twitter if you’ve got them (@KateTheSnoFlak). Happy bending, folding, and I hope your hips gain some relief. Collectively these three poses may take you 10-15 minutes out of your day and can be done daily. Keep bringing a little yoga into your life.