Yoga for Exploring Hips and Low Back

Today's post is an exploration that will help open and stabilize both hips and low back.  It is especially nice for the outer hips and deep in the hip socket itself, places we often forget or avoid.  Take it easy, if you work too hard here, you might miss the juicy parts....

 

Use the Dirgha Pranayama (inhales and exhales both start in the lower lungs for this breath) for the entirety of this brief practice with emphasis on beginning your inhale in the low back and drawing your bellybutton up under your rib cage as you exhale.

 

Start reclining... 

-Draw your right leg in toward your chest and wrap your arms around it.  Take a few breaths letting your hip and low back open.

-Release your leg and position your knee at a 90 degree angle directly over your hip.  Circle your ankle in both directions at least 20 times.

-Bend your left knee, foot to the floor, and cross your right ankle over the left thigh.  Adjust the ankle closer to your hip or closer to your knee until your find the "sweet spot".  Reach your right knee AND the sole of your right foot toward the wall in front of you.  Fell how this changes the engagement in your hips.  Make sure your abs have engaged to keep your pelvis from torquing.  You want this to be about the hips, not the spine. Take a few breaths here.

-Keep the engagement and draw your legs in toward your chest.  Hold the back of your left thigh and bend and straighten that leg in rhythm with your breath at least 5 times.

-Gently release your legs and rest a bit.

- Repeat on the other side

 

Come to seated on anything that makes you comfortable with your legs stretched out in front of you... 

-Keep your left leg extended and place support under the knee if its not comfortable straight.  Work your hamstrings and quads against one another to keep your extended knee from hyperextending.

Place your right ankle over your left thigh, just as you did in the previous sequence, and work both the knee and sole toward the floor.  Fold forward with a neutral spine (moving just from the hips) if you can do so with ease.  Stay here and remember to breath for a few breaths.

-Now move your right foot further to the left so the middle of your shin (more or less) is on your thigh and repeat the same action, holding for a few breaths.

-Next, move your left leg to the right (it will be at an angle from your hip) and move your right foot as close to the left hip and the floor as you can.  In essence, you are working toward stacking your knees. Either work sole and knee downward again OR, if you right foot is on the floor, turn its sole toward the sky pointing the toes gently and use the heel of your hand to apply gentle pressure.  Fold with a neutral spine, if desired. and hold for a few breaths.

-Unwind, rest, repeat on the other side.

 

Now practice these actions in two challenging poses.. double pigeon and cowface...

-For double pigeon, sit tall and stack your lower legs with your shins parallel to the front of your mat, letting your feet hang over your knees so you can reach the soles toward the floor.  This is the fuller version of the pose.  If your knees rise up or your hips say OMG, just back it up - take your knees wider and your feet closer together.  You will only isometrically take your soles toward the floor.  Stay tall or fold forward for a few breaths.

-For cowface, stack your knees with both legs bent, turn your soles toward the sky and use your hands to give gentle pressure to the ball of the foot.  Feels too extreme, work with half cowface a little longer.  You've already done half cowface once today - its the last in our seated pose sequence above.  Enjoy your pose for a few breaths.

Remember to do both sides ;-)

 

Take a good long savasana after this to allow your body to integrate these challenging openings!

 

 

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