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Do you spend most of your time sitting? Whether at a desk or driving from point A to point B? You’re not alone. In order to recover from all that sitting, it is important to open the front of the thighs (from the hip flexors, all the way down to the top of the knee).
There are really only four asanas in yin yoga which target this area, so we will be doing all of these, along with a seated meditation to start. This practice will get deep into the psoas, which is known as the muscle of the soul.
As this is a Yin Yoga practice, we will hold these passive poses for several minutes each, and not use muscular effort. As you stay in the pose, relax and hold steady. Resist the temptation to fidget.
Like with most of my yin yoga practices, you will want to have lots of props handy for this practice. I recommend a blanket, two blocks or a bolster, and also a strap if you have limited range of motion.
If you need assistance in how long you should hold each of these poses (2-5 minutes is ideal), you can watch my full 40 minute practice Yin Yoga for Quads, Thighs & Hip Flexors.
1. Seated Meditation – Setting yourself up on a folded blanket, sit in any way that works for you. Let your hands rest on your knees, and close your eyes. Take cleansing breaths in and out through the nose. Let go of what is on the mind and distracting you from the present moment. Bring awareness to the low body, noticing any tension or discomfort felt here. Bring your hands together at the heart and open with a chant of OM on time.
2. Lying Quad Stretch – Lie on the belly, with a strap handy if needed. Have your feet about hip distance apart. Cross your left forearm out in front of you, parallel to the top of the mat. Bend your right knee, catch hold of the foot with your right hand. Pull your heel in towards your glute. Keep the knee from opening up to the side, instead keeping it in line with the hip.
If you have trouble grabbing the foot, loop your strap around the foot to achieve this. Let your forehead rest down. Lengthen your tailbone down towards the knees to deepen the stretch. After holding for several minutes, carefully release the foot down and switch sides.
3. Lizard Pose with Quad Stretch – Make your way to table top pose. Use a blanket to pad your back knee, as you step the right foot forward to outer edge of right hand. Choose to keep your knee and toes in line, pointing forward OR lift the toes up and roll on to the outer edge of the right foot. Stay here, or bring your hands onto a set of blocks, or lower down onto your forearms. To take a quad stretch, reach your right arm to back, bending into the left knee. Catch hold of the foot, or use the strap to do so.
Let your neck relax, and the head be heavy. Focus on your breath through these intense stretches. Aim to hold for 5 minutes here. Then slowly release the back foot down, taking time to come out of the pose slowly. Take an easy child’s pose before you set up for the other side.
4. Reclined Hero – Make your way towards the top of the mat. Kneel with your sit bones on the mat, between the shins and feet. Ankles come to the outer edges of the hips, with knees in line with the hips bones. Press the tops of your feet down onto the floor. If you to need a bit more height to get comfortable, sit up on a block or a rolled up blanket. If it’s uncomfortable on the knees, place a blanket under the backside of your knees, giving a bit of a buffer. Lift the hips up, scooping the tailbone under, then set them back down. Make your way lower, reclining all the way to the ground, or on to a set of blocks supporting the upper back and head. Rest the arms out to the sides, with the palms turned up.
You should not be experiencing any pinching under the knees or in the low back. After a good length of time passes, slowly exit out by tucking the chin in to the chest. Push the palms into the soles of the feet, and use your elbows to lift you back up.
5. Cat Pulling Its Tail – Lower all the way down to the floor. You may want to have a strap handy nearby. Keep the left leg extended, as you pull the right knee in to the chest. Cross the right knee over the body, lowering towards the left. Extend your right arm out to the side, as you straighten your right leg (if this is painful, keep it bent). Bend into the left knee, grabbing for the left foot with the right hand. Use your strap if you need it to reach the foot. Pull the knee back as you bring your heel close to the glute.
Aim to keep your right shoulder grounded to the floor. Relax your chest and shoulders, breathe deeply. Again hold for around 5 minutes if you can, and then come out step by step by releasing the foot and rolling onto the back. Switch sides.
Remember to finish off with savasana.
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