This ten to fifteen minute sequence is a great way to help release tight muscles in the hips, legs and the lower back. You can use this routine to counter balance sporting activities and feel better after a long day of travel or work. You may also find this practice calming and it's a great preparation for seated meditation.
What You'll Need for This Sequence:
1) Enough floor space to lay down with your legs straight and arms spread wide from your body.
2) Thin cushion or blanket for your head to keep your neck relaxed.
3) Cushions or Yoga bolster to provide support for pleasurable stretching.
4) A Yoga strap or belt to effectively access the hips muscles.
1) Pull your legs towards your chest and breathe into the back lower ribs.
2) Move your hands to your knee caps, keep the knees together and move the knees in circles 3 x each way. This movement warms up the ligaments and muscles at the back of the pelvis (hips).
1) I recommend using a Yoga bolster or stack of cushions for this stretch.
2) Begin by hugging the right leg towards the body and straightening the left leg along the floor.
3) From your hips twist left only as far as the right shoulder can stay on the floor. More support under your knee is sometimes necessary and the right hip will not be fully stacked on top of the left.
4) Breath into your lower back ribs and use your breath to help soften tension.
5) After 5 - 10 breaths repeat on the other side.
1) Hug both legs towards the torso, then place the right foot on the floor with the heel under the knee.
2) Flex the left foot towards your left knee (keep that action) and cross the ankle over the right lower thigh. If this feels like a good stretch stay here.
3) Option: move deeper into the pose as pictured above. Notice that my pelvis, head and shoulders are down on the floor. If your bum, shoulders, chin or head have to lift in order to pull the right leg in, please use a strap looped around the back of your right thigh and pull on that; this avoids a risk of straining the lower back or neck.
4) Breath into the back lower ribs and after 5 - 10 breaths repeat on the other side.
1) This photo is the preparation for the next stretch. Use your hands to pull your feet towards the outer hips.
2) Then (not shown in the photo) lift your toes up and maintain this foot action throughout the upcoming stretch.
3) Move your arms away from your body and move your legs to the right. Your right leg is passive and rests towards the floor. Your left leg is active and reaches forwards and down to the floor. Deepen the stretch by reaching your left arm overhead. This is often a deep stretch at the front of the left thigh and on the inside of your left hip bone.
4) If your left knee feels uncomfortable, place a cushion underneath it and high enough to take the discomfort away.
5) Use deep smooth breathing and imagine the breath can reach all the way into the stretching muscles.
6) Stay for 5 - 10 breaths. On the exhale pull your navel towards your spine and come back to the preparation position. Repeat the preparations and move into the stretch on the other side.
1) Begin with bent knees, legs together and heels near the torso, bring the soles of the feet together and let your thighs lower towards the floor.
2) If the stretch on the inner thighs or knees doesn't feel good, put cushions under the thighs and close to the outer hips.
3) If the lower back feels uncomfortable lift your hips up, lengthen your tailbone towards your heels and place the hips on the floor. This action lengthens the back and usually takes away any discomfort; if it doesn't put more support under the thighs as described in #2).
4) With one hand resting near your navel and the other on your chest bring your attention towards the breath and allow our whole body the relax into the stretch.
5) Stay 5 - 20 breaths. To come out of the pose exhale and draw your navel towards your spine (for core stability) and use your hands to bring your knees together.
6) Rest in this counterpose with the knees touching and the feet a little wider than your knees.
7) Stay for as many breaths as you wish and enjoy the residue of your practice.