In the world of yoga the hips are often referred to as the ‘junk drawer’ because they can store a lot of baggage, old relationship energy and make us ‘stuck in our ways’ if they are not balanced. Energetically when the chakra associated with hips (known as Svadhishthana Chakra) is balanced – we can easily ‘go with the flow’, accept change in our lives and get our creative juices flowing. On a physical level, the hips are quite literally ‘Grand Central Station’. Tightness, weakness or muscle imbalances in the hips can affect the joints, muscles and bones below (such as knees, ankles and feet) and above (such as the shoulders and neck).
This holiday season, practice the sequence outlined here to bring strength, balance and stabilty to the hips and the surrounding muscles and tissues. All you need is a wall, a block and non-slip mat. Begin by practicing a few rounds of your favorite Sun Salutations (here is a basic one if you would like to follow along) to create some heat and warm up the body. Then practice the four poses demonstrated below. End your practice with Savasana (the longer the better – so take a 5 minute Savasana if time is short – a 20 minute one if have a bit longer – your body and mind will thank you!).
Align the short edge of your mat with the wall. Standing approximately a leg length away from the wall, raise your left leg up until it is parallel to the floor and place your left foot flat against the wall with the toes pointing up. Your right leg should be directily underneath you. Check in with your pelvis to make sure it is in a neutral position (you will probably have to ‘untuck’ your tailbone a bit to bring your pelvic bowl into a balanced position). Lift your pelvic floor and draw your belly button in and up. Inhale to reach arms up overhead so there is a straight line through wrists, ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Exhale to release shoulders down and back. Hold for 5 breaths.
Release your arms and walk your left foot over a few inches to the right. Your right foot and body does a quarter turn clock wise as you open up the adductors (inner thigh muscles) of the left leg. Your right leg is underneath your pelvis (not out to the side) and the hips are as level as possible. Find your balance, lift your pelvic floor and draw your belly button in and up. Inhale to reach your arms overhead, exhale to draw shoulders down and back. Hold for 5 breaths.
With the support of a block under your right arm, transition into Half Moon Pose. Your left foot will do another quarter turn clock wise against the wall so the toes now point forward and the right foot on the floor will turn so the toes point away from the wall. Open up the hips so the left hip stacks on top of the right. Lenghten both sides of the torso equally and reach your left arm up on an inhale, exhale to press equally into both of your feet and your right hand. Hold for 5 breaths.
Do one final quarter turn to face the mat. Bring your left hand to the block and square your hips to the floor. Your left toes will now point down the wall as you internally rotate your left thigh and square your hips to the floor. Your left leg should be parallel to the floor and your torso long and parallel to the floor as well. Press into the block with both hands to lift the chest and shoulders. Hold for 5 breaths.
Repeat the entire sequence on the other side!
Krista Bromfield is a senior teacher at Balanced Life Yoga, a RYT, Can-Fit-Pro PRO Trainer, Mom and Auntie. She has an Honors Degree in Kinesiology and Education, and is the lead Anatomy Instructor for the Balanced Life Yoga Teacher Training Programs. Krista teaches a variety of classes including Power Yoga, Partner Yoga, Kids Yoga, Yog-ahhh, Prenatal Yoga, Stroller Fitness and Mom and Baby Yoga Bootcamp. She also leads Prenatal Yoga and 2UNITE Partner Yoga Teacher Training Certifications.
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