I get asked time and time again for a follow up to my one hour flexibility flow on my YouTube channel. And last week I put out a new one hour flexibility flow, this time focusing on the hips and hamstrings.
I’ve pulled poses from the first half hour of this one hour class and outlined them step by step below for you. These 7 poses work deeply into the lower body to increase your flexibility.
Give yourself as much room as you can, as you may go a little bit off of your mat in both directions.
I did not use any props for these poses, but you may want to have a strap or blocks handy in case.
1. Knee to Chest – Lay down on your back, with legs extended. Pull your right knee into your chest, pushing down into the left heel. Getting deep into the hip flexor and thigh with this stretch. Soften shoulders, and close your eyes. Find your edge, don’t push yourself, that’s how you get injured. Take the stretch into a twist, by crossing the right knee towards the left. Reach your right arm out to the side, pressing your shoulder blade into the ground. To take it a step further, and work into the IT band, straighten the right leg. Use your left hand to guide it to the floor. If this is too much, keep the knee bent. Roll onto your back, hugging the right knee in as you bend your left leg and bring the sole to the mat. Extend the right leg up to the sky. Instead of trying to pull your leg to the chest, push your hamstring into your palms. Feel the palms resist against it. Repeat through on the other side.
2. Thread the Needle – Come to hands and knees, taking a few rounds of cat/cow before returning to a neutral spine. Inhale the right arm up and then thread it underneath you. Coming down onto the right shoulder and right temple. Come on to the fingertips of the left hand, drawing the left shoulder blade down. Push the right arm into the floor. Make sure your hips have remained directly over the knees, and not shifted to one side or the other. The work here is all through the upper body. Switch sides.
3. Lizard Pose – From hands and knees, step the right foot to the outside of the right hand. Sinking into the hips as you come forward into low lunge. Lift the right toes up and roll to outer edge of right foot. Hip, knee, and ankle all in line, pointing to the right side. Hold here or come down onto forearms (directly on the ground or on a set of blocks). If you want to also take a quad stretch, right arm comes up and over as you bend the right knee and catch hold of the left foot, drawing the heel into the glute. Keep length in the chest as you take 5 deep breaths here. The slower you go, even in a vinyasa class, the more you’ll increase your flexibility. Take this stretch on the other side.
4. Yogic Squat – Standing with your feet about hip distance, turn the heels in and toes out. Drop your hips as you bend your knees. Bring the hands together at your heart, use elbows to push the knees open wider. Lengthen the spine, keeping the upper body lifted and heart shining forward.
5. Side Lunge – From downward facing dog, float the left leg up to the sky. Open your hips to the left, bend your knee and squeeze into the glutes. Step your left foot through between the palms. Rotate onto the right heel, heels in/toes out. Bend into left knee as right leg straightens. Switch side to side – starting with left knee bent, inhaling up, bend right knee and straighten left leg as you exhale. Repeat through 3 times. Return back to the left knee bent right leg extended to set up for the next stretch.
6. Half Deer Pose – Staying as you are in previous stretch, let your hips sink down to the mat. Turn to face your extended right leg, and drop the left knee down to the mat. Bring the left knee out at a 90 degree angle with the left foot flexed towards the back. Sitting up, push down into the left hip as you walk your hands back behind you. This to me is already a pretty deep stretch, working inside the left groin and left thigh (an area yogis don’t often stretch). To take the stretch further, lower down onto your forearms, or all the way to the back (as pictured). Only take this stretch all the way down if you can keep your left hip, knee and ankle touching down. Try to hold here for 5 slow deliberate breaths.
7. Head to Knee Sequence – After lifting the torso back up, bring the left heel closer towards the sit bones. Keep the right leg extended, toes pointing up. Fold forward, nose towards knee, reaching towards the right foot (hook a strap over the right foot as needed). Keeping hold of the right foot, roll onto the outer right leg, onto right arm, and come onto back. Still holding onto the right foot (or to a strap hooked over the right foot), your leg is now above you. Left sole comes to the mat, or for a deeper stretch the left leg can extend in front of you. Begin to open the right leg out to the side, extending the left arm to the side, without rolling to the side. Inhale the leg back up. Then switch the grip to the left hand as you lower the right leg towards the left. Extend the right arm to the side, melting the shoulder blade down to the mat.
Repeat 5 through 7 on the other side.
The above poses make up the first half of the 60 minute flow video. For the full practice, watch the video below.
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