Yin Yoga: The Hips

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Nancy Nelson

A note on deep hip opening postures…

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 andย 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 toย 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.ย 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.

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Take your time, breathe, and enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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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 itโ€™s too much for you today, please just reposition in a wide knee childโ€™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 โ€œtenseโ€. 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.

Yin Sequence for Hips - Frog Pose

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.

Yin Sequence for Hips - Shoelace

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.

Yin Sequence for Hips - Swan

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.

Yin Sequence for Hips - Firelog

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!

Yin Sequence for Hips - Baby Dragon

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.

Yin Sequence for Hips - Dragon Flying HIgh

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.

Yin Sequence for Hips - Dragon Flying Low

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.

Yin Sequence for Hips - Winged Dragon

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.

Yin Sequence for Hips - Bridge

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.

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31 Responses

    1. So glad that you enjoyed the blog! I hope to post more often now that my studio’s site is up and running (consumed my life for a bit). Let me know if you ever have questions or requests. xx-Nancy

  1. So excited to do my very first class as a new yoga teacher on 12/10 and use this sequence and playlist..thank you so much! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Reblogged this on constellationist and commented:
    I was in SO much pain this morning, everything was so tight. I knew I needed to find something different to really stretch those tight side/back/hip muscles. Smart phones + pinterest are amazing things. In under a minute, I had a good looking sequence to try out – the pictures and descriptions seemed easy enough to figure out. The first part is similar to what I usually work through, but getting into winged dragon and twisted dragon felt amazing in getting out that tightness and pain.

    Speaking of pain. This is an interesting thing when it comes to practicing yoga, or other elements of exercise and therapy with fibromyalgia. Supposedly, you shouldn’t experience “pain”. I’m going to say that I’m already experiencing pain. I’m never not experiencing pain. Having knowledge about what kind of pain I’m experiencing is more crucial. Paying attention to what the pain is telling me is important – when I say, that feels amazing, I’m still in pain, it’s just a different kind. It’s pain releasing. It’s pain telling me that the floor is hard against my knee, that can be adjusted. I don’t know how else to say to know what kind of pain you can handle, what is good, and knowing you aren’t injuring yourself further or bringing on a slew of other symptoms from your oversensitive body, other than to practice and get to know yourself. Be mindful of all the sensations and what they tell you, pain among them.
    Do you have any tips on how to find balance within your pain? How you know what’s good to work through, and when you should stop?
    Do you suffer from chronically tight hips and side muscles? Have you tried a stretch or yoga sequence that helps?

    Let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I was so restless last night. Yin yoga is my fave type of yoga asanas practice and I practice either on Sunday’s or Monday’s. I tried to skip last night and my body wouldn’t allow it. I followed your photos and information and fell right into a sound sleep once completed. Relaxed, stress free, and unbothered. Woke up w sore hips so I know this practice was beneficial. Thank u. Namaste ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ

    1. Iโ€™ve always wanted to do yin yoga at home and have never found a good sequence, that was informative and with clear directions. I did competitive gymnastics my whole life and continue to workout on a daily basis. I am also an icu nurse and am always on my feet. With all of that said I have extremely tight hips and back and rarely get to sleep through the night without pain waking me up. Iโ€™m so excited to have you and canโ€™t wait to do your practices on a daily basis , I can already tell a difference in my hips and my mood after just one day of this sequence . Thanks so much !!

      1. How wonderful! Thanks for all you do. Grateful my site is helpful to you feeling better!!

  4. Exactly what I needed for the class I am subbing today. I don’t usually teach Yin, so thank you for sharing. I feel much more confident teaching tonight.

  5. J’adore this sequence….I am teach a ‘Intro to yoga in my studio…each class a different style of yoga. I was in need of some inspiration for my Yin class today, not sure why..hmmm….I’ll sit with that later.๐Ÿ•‰๐Ÿ•‰๐Ÿ•‰. And you are an inspiration. Jai

  6. Was there suppose to be a #4 in this sequence? The list goes from 3. Shoelace to 5. Swan. Just wondering!! Thanks, so love your yoga and am so happy to be learning from you right from my home. What a privilege.

    1. Hi Marsha! Thanks so much for the comment and for utilizing my sequence! That was simply an error on my end. So you didn’t miss anything ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad my site has been a useful resource for you! -Nancy

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Titles for Website (38)
Nancy Nelson
Nancy Nelson
Nancy is the fearless leader here at Nancy Nelson Yoga! She has been instructing yoga since 2012 and is certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) with Yoga Alliance. She loves guiding yoga classes in all forms โ€“ from sweaty vinyasa flows, to slow mindful movement - but her favorite style to practice and teach is yin yoga. She attended a formal 50-hour Yin Yoga training with Bernie Clark and Diana Batts in the fall of 2018 and it truly propelled her into developing her yin focused website, webinars and trainings.

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