Yin Yoga: Hips & Hamstrings

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Nancy Nelson

piclabHappy Friday!

Today I wanted to share with you a sequence for your hips and hamstrings that I taught in class this week. It’s a great sequence for runners and cyclists to help loosen up those tight areas. If you do have tension in these parts of your body, there is a tendency to want to run away from the pose or fidget your way through the hold. Do your best to transform those moments into opportunities to lengthen the breath, soak up stillness and receive the gifts of the 1st chakra (root). With time spent in these poses you will begin to feel a sense of calm, patience, and willingness to savor the moment at hand. Enjoy!

Complete steps 1-6 and then switch to the other side of the poses.

Step 1. Cross Leg Fold | 4 minutes

Lately I’ve been trying to find ways to switch up poses that we are very used to. For your first pose, cross your ankles (right leg on top). Take a deep inhale, lengthen the heart forward as you begin to fold. When you feel a good amount of sensation, pause, relax the arms and forehead.

*If you need to, you can take your basic caterpillar pose (regular forward bend) here.

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Step 2. Sage Twist | 1 minute

Draw your right knee up, snug the outer ankle to the left thigh and plant the soul of the foot. Drop your right hand behind you like a kickstand and on an inhale lengthen the left arm for the sky. As you exhale, find your twist. 6 deep breaths. After the twist, take both hands off to the other side and counter with a few breaths folding to the left.

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Step 3. Reclined Pigeon | 3 minutes

From previous pose, begin to bend the left knee and bring the sole of the foot to the earth. Set up your right leg so that the ankle crosses over the base of the left thigh and flex the foot. Begin to recline. Reach through the legs with the right hand and to the outside of the leg with the left. You can hold onto the hamstring, shin or you are welcome to use a strap.

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Step 4. Figure 4 Twist | 2 minutes

Without changing the leg position, just release the arms out to either side of you. Drop the left foot back to the earth and walk it over to the left a few inches. Drop both knees to the right and send your gaze to the left.

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Step 5. Half Happy Baby | 4 minutes

Uncross the legs and hug both knees into the chest. Take a little bit of movement side to side, front to back, and then release the left leg out to the ground in front of you. Keep hugging in the right knee and then begin to reach for the outer edge of the right foot (your forearm will cross the shin). Imagine drawing the knee in toward your armpit and the sole of the foot is facing the sky. Do your best to keep the left leg grounded here. You can also bend the left knee and bring the soul of the foot to the earth.

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Step 6. Banana | 3 minutes

Release the right leg to meet the left and take a full body stretch. Begin to grab onto either elbow as the arms are stretching overhead and relax the arms to the earth. Take the left foot off of the mat at about 6-inches to the side. Keeping your hips where they are, begin to walk the upper body over to the left until you find a good stretch in a banana shape. You can also rest the left side of the face on the left arm here. Breathe deep breaths into the right side body. Notice the space you’ve created on this side.

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***Repeat Steps 1-6***

Step 7. Dragons | 5 minutes

Begin in tabletop or downward facing dog. Take the right leg to the sky and open the hip. Step the right foot in between the hands and drop down the left knee behind you. Allow your chest to rest on the thigh of the right leg and your gaze to be down. Taking 2 minutes in this position.

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If you feel open, begin to bring both hands to the inside of the right foot. To make space for your upper body, begin to walk the right foot over a few inches. If you can go further, begin to drop down to your forearms on a bolster, block or all the way to the mat (not shown). 2 minutes here.

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Whether you are on hands or forearms, begin to turn the right foot out about 45 degrees, flex the foot, then roll onto the outer edge of it. Make sure there are no wrinkles in the inner ankle to protect the joint. Your knee should be pointing in the same direction as the toes and there should be no pain. Take your right hand to the right knee and begin to twist and stack your shoulders on an exhale. If you would like to add a quad stretch, begin to bend the back knee and locate the foot with your right hand. You can simply draw the heel in toward your glut or kick into the hand to draw you into a deeper twist and backbend. 1 minute.

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Step 8. Half or Full Splits | 2 minutes

Release the back foot if you have it and square your chest back to the top of the mat. Both hands come to either side of the right foot and then take your next exhale as you begin to shift your hips back and straighten out the right leg. Flex the right foot to protect the joints and deepen the stretch.

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Take a childs pose for one minute to balance out before moving to other side.

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***Repeat Steps 7 & 8 on the other side***

Step 9. Savasana (however you’d like) | 6 minutes

When you are ready begin to make your way into your final pose of relaxation. You can set up for Savasana however you feel most comfortable and at ease.

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23 Responses

    1. Hmmm… Good idea. Most yin sequences target the meridian lines and therefore highly focus on the lower half of the body. However, the hands, shoulders, and neck can be easily integrated. I’ll get something in the works just for you! xo-Nancy

  1. Thank you for posting this sequence! I was diagnosed with sciatica over the weekend (ouch!) and the doctor did tell me to use gentle stretches and yoga to help with the pain.

  2. Reclined pigeon helps me with my sciatica feels great actually this is one of my favorite sequences. But downward dog is another story. My back tends to arch towards my belly even with 1 leg raised its a challenge. Any options for DD? Still like the way it opens up the hips and gets the glutes firing, for dragon.

  3. Pingback: HIPS & HAMSTRINGS
    1. Yin is definitely not always restorative or relaxing by nature! I find it’s challenging in a whole new way and often more difficult for me than a strength building class. Glad you enjoyed!

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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 – 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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