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Whether you have tight hips that are causing you grief, or you want to increase your hip flexibility to work towards other goals on your mat this is the practice for you.
These 7 poses are pretty intense for the hips. They mainly focus on external hip rotation, but we will get at them from all angles.
You may want to have 1 block and a blanket handy before getting started. Get comfortable in each pose, and then hold for 2-5 minutes.
1. Wide-Legged Child’s Pose – From hands and knees, bring the big toes together and take the knees as wide as comfortable for you. Walk the hands out in front of you, and melt down to the floor. If you are feeling any pain or compression in the low back, bring the knees closer together. Your hips may not touch the heels, that’s okay. As you hold the pose for a couple of minutes, they will sink deeper. Take slow and steady breaths in and out through the nose.
2. Winged Dragon – Coming back to hands and knees, step your right foot forward to the outside of the right hand. As you will hold here for a few moments, you might want to pad the left knee with a blanket or by doubling up the mat. You may stay here with the right knee and toes pointing forward. Or to take the winged version, curl the toes up and roll to the outer edge of your right foot. The hip, knee and ankle all open up at the same degree. Stay up on the palms here, or lower down to the forearms. If down on the forearms, you may want to rest the forehead on to a block. Keep melting the hips down and forward.
3. Swan – After holding in dragon for a couple of minutes, heel toe the right foot towards the left side of the mat. Bring the right knee down behind the right wrist. If you need help keeping the hips square here, you can place a block underneath the hips. Fold over the right leg as you lower down to the floor.
Repeat 2 and 3 on the other side.
4. Shoelace – Take a seat and then wrap your right leg over your left. Try to stack the knees one on top of the other. If this is not accessible, you can bring the right shin in front of the left. You may also want to place a block under or between the thighs to close any gaps. Stay seated, or to get deeper start to fold forward. You could bring a block under the forehead here as well to relax the head. Melt the shoulders, neck, jaw, and arms.
5. Frog – If you have a blanket you can fold it lengthwise a few times to pad the knees, or fold the mat in lengthwise. Take your knees as wide as comfortable, like in wide-legged child’s pose, but in this pose you will align your ankles with the knees and flex the feet. Keep your hips stacked over the knees, or push them back slightly. Stay up on the palms, or come to the forearms. You may also wish to place a block under the head or a bolster under the upper body. As this pose is one of the most intense poses in yin, remember to keep breathing and relax.
6. IT Band Stretch – Lower down on to your back, then cross the left ankle over your right thigh. Flex your left foot. With this figure four shape, drop the right thigh down to the right. The left sole may come down to the ground, or perhaps on to a block. You may like to grab your left ankle here, or push your knee away with your right hand. Open the left arm out to the side, grounding the shoulder down. Repeat on the other side.
7. Reclined Butterfly – Bring the feet together, and drop the knees apart. Letting the arms rest wherever is comfortable. After a couple minutes here, be sure to close your practice with a savasana. Taking some time to settle down in to the mat and notice how the hips feel now.
Prefer doing Yin with a teacher taking you through the transitions? Practice along with me below.
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