I hope your week is off to a wonderful start. This week we are focusing on the variety-rich poses in the “dragon” family as we’ve deemed them in yin yoga. These are very similar to the lunges you will experience in a flow class, but are held (as in any yin posture) for longer – drawing you deep into the pull of gravity. These poses can be rather intense on the hips, leading the mind toward various distractions and concerns. Do your best to breathe through the discomfort, taking on sensation through the inhales and releasing through the exhales. The space created from these poses can lead to all kinds of wonderful benefits, but we have to find some stillness. Do your best! Next week we will talk more about the hamstring side of the dragon poses.
To get into the basic posture, make your way to table top or down dog and draw one foot through in between the hands. Place the knee so it’s just above the ankle (rather than jolting beyond the ankle). Walk your back knee toward the back of the mat to settle the hips into the right amount of intensity for you to start with. Start this pose elevated on your hands (or blocks) and then use your breath to guide yourself deeper into other variations. Try not to rush through it, allow yourself time to experience whatever pops up here. Physically…mentally…emotionally. It’s all worth your observation.
DON’T RUSH – The point of the posture is to find resistance and breathe through it. Rushing beyond your sensations is not only physically unsafe but it’s robbing you from the true experience of release.
DETAILS – Aligning the knee somewhat above the ankle will provide cushion and support for both your front ankle and knee joints. There should be no pain in either area.
Elevate it! | To decrease the intensity of the posture, lift yourself up a bit higher to blocks or keep the arms straight the whole time.
Hands/Forearms to inner foot | Make sure you walk the foot over a few inches to create more space for the upper body.
Half Happy Baby | If pressure on the back knee is too much, you can alternatively do your half happy baby pose on your back.
Drop the knee to the side | As long as there’s no pain, you can spin the front foot to a slight angle and drop the knee to the side rolling to the pinky edge of the foot. Do keep some engagement in the foot so the ankle remains protected from possible injury. You can stay or grab the back foot for a twisted monkey variation.
Walk the hands to the side | To encourage a deeper release in the hips as well as the side body, walk your hands in the opposite direction of the feet. You can stay lifted or play with lowering the forearms.
Opens up tight hips and inner groin region.
Helps restore overall hip mobility where fascia (tough connective tissue) might be causing irritation and “tension”
Stretches the hip flexor and thigh muscle of the back leg (especially when you add the twisted monkey variation).
Primarily stimulates the stomach, spleen, liver, gall bladder and kidney lines.
Let your cares go… Poses that dig into the hip joints are known to help with emotional release. As you feel strong or even subtle emotions surface, allow yourself to acknowledge them, feel them and then breathe them out. Your energetic body has it’s own natural cleansing process so honor that as you feel these things arise in postures such as this.
USE CAUTION: Contraindications for this posture include…
Pain/Injury in the knee or ankle joints. Be sure to support yourself using props (a blanket can be helpful for cushioning the back leg) so you are careful not to strain these already sensitive parts of the body.
Ouch!. If you feel any kind of sharp, shooting pains – come out and then find a variation that only brings forth a stretching sensation – rather than a pinching one.
HOLD: 3-5 minutes, depending on your own personal needs. You can do each variation of this pose for 1-2 minutes each before switching to the other side. Come out of this pose very slowly from this posture (as with any yin pose).
Forward folds might feel nice as you get to straighten the leg out. Windshield wipers will also feel nice on the hips.