Your hip joints are one area that will get a lot of attention in your yoga practice. The more open and stable your hips, the better your sense of balance and the smoother your transitions. Your hips are also directly related to nerve endings and energetic placement of your emotions. Whether you are having a great day, enduring a frustrating situation, or a moment of stress on your morning drive — your emotional energy is sent out into the joints where it builds tension. A large chunk of that emotional stress hits the hip joints, creating that sense of tightness. When we “open up” the hips, we recreate the space we need in the joint to release that energy so we can open up to whatever life hands us next. That’s why opening the hips happens so much in our practice, because we constantly need that release. We need those moments to recreate space, to pull our intentions in, and take a deep breath before we move into whatever is ahead in the next moment. Without this release, we will build up the tension which can lead to emotional confusion, difficulty thinking clearly, and physical problems (such as lack of flexibility and injury). With all of this said, it is also very important to be gentle with yourself when taking a hip focused class. I encourage you as you move through this yin sequence to take it easy. Really listen to the sensations that you encounter physically and mentally. You have time in each pose to determine whether to go deeper or to back off. At no point should there be any pain. Yes, your hips (especially if there is a lot of tension) will experience a lot of sensation in these poses — but there should not be any pain.
The practice will take you about 60-75 minutes. Make sure you have some time so that you will be able to completely relax and not worry about the next thing on your to do list. This is a great practice to start or end your day.
Need a timer? I highly recommend the CDN TM30! It’s got a vibration setting that’s just the right subtle reminder to ease out of the posture.
Childs Pose (3 min)
Begin your practice by making your way to childs pose. Any version of the posture is welcome. If you’re ready to dig into the hips, take the knees wider. To keep things more gentle in the hips and focused in the spine, narrow the legs a bit. Let the weight of the head rest into the earth or a prop and take some time to breathe, connect with an intention and enjoy the moment. You have arrived.
Frog Pose (5 min)
Make your way to table for a few moments to breathe and move in any way that will help you work out the tension from the previous pose. Eventually, begin to walk the knees and feet out wide, allowing the hips to settle toward the earth for frog pose. Utilize your bolster under the chest or hips here if it’s useful for you!
This pose can be really difficult. If it’s too much for you today, please just reposition in a wide knee child’s pose. You may stay lifted on your hands, lower onto your forearms/bolster, or come down to your belly. Just make sure you can stay wherever you eventually land in the pose for several minutes without being “tense”. If you find yourself fighting this pose, come out of it a step and find a place where your mind and body are able to breathe and focus through the sensation.
Shoelace (3 min)
Guide the legs back together and rise up to seated to take a moment to feel the rebound effects of frog pose. When ready, cross the left leg over the right. The right leg can extend straight, or bend it underneath the left for the full pose. Find a position where the hips can settle so your spine can remain long. Fold forward if and when it is appropriate for you. Don’t worry too much about stacking the knees here. You are always welcome to let those imperfections in! That’s how we practice compassion.
Swan/Sleeping Swan (6 min)
Rise up from your fold and take the left leg behind you for swan pose. Stay upright for several moments to allow the body time to acclimate to the new shape and eventually start to fold and surrender toward the earth.
Firelog Pose (3 min)
Come back upright into your swan pose and draw the back leg forward once more “stacking” it on top of or in front of the forward leg. Utilize props here to support you where things feel a little unstable. Stay up if you feel plenty of sensation or start to make your way into a fold from this position. Always pause as you feel the sensation rise and take several moments to breathe and connect.
After this pose, make your way back to Shoelace on the opposite side.
Dragons Part I – Baby Dragon (2 min)
From table or dog, step the right leg through and into a low/baby dragon with the hands framing the foot. Allow the hips to settle in and downward toward the earth. Stay here for at least two minutes or stay the whole time!
Dragons Part II – Dragon Flying High (2 min)
Stay in the previous variation or transition the hands to the inside of the foot now. Create space for the shoulders and upper body by walking the foot over slightly.
Dragons Part III – Dragon Flying Low (2 min)
Stay in the previous variation or begin to deepen the pose by settling down closer to the earth. You can place a bolster or blocks under your forearms to create less pressure to meet the floor. It doesn’t matter what your pose looks like – HOW DOES IT FEEL?! If you’re feeling it, you’re doing it.
Winged Dragon (2 min)
Stay as you are in any varation or if your hands are to the inside of the foot, consider allowing the knee and outer ankle to drop open to the side to get deeper into the inner leg meridians. Stay with the chest squared to the earth or rotate open and take a gentle twist or bind with the back foot.
Supported Bridge (3 min)
Come to your mat into a seated position. Place your bolster or block at your side and roll onto the back. Bend the knees and place the feet to the floor. Elevate the hips and slide your prop under the hips. Take the arms and legs wherever they feel most comfortable. Stay here for a few minutes and allow the front of the hips to gently open and release.
Savasana (5 min / as long as you’d like)
Don’t skip this step. Give yourself these minutes to soak up and receive the space you created with this deep practice. Allow every muscle, every thought to fade away into the gravity of the pose. Let your breath to return to its natural pattern, your eyes heavy, and your heart is light.