Yoga for Hips - series post #1

I am frequently questioned by athletes with tight or painful hips.  Sometimes they are willing or able to take a class (which I prefer), and sometimes they just want a few poses to include in their normal workout routine.

 One such friend had developed a painful limp over a long period of time, and NEVER did any stretching.  A full hour yoga class was totally out of the question for him.  Instead, he asked me for one pose to help.  That's a really tall order.  I talked him through a modified pyramid pose, with very specific core engagement.  The following day, he reported reduced pain and that his limp was gone.  I got him to agree that we would add one pose per week to work at the hip from various angles.  I'll blog about our progression, and list the poses that have become his homework.  Follow along if you want to avoid or reduce pain, or if limited hip flexibility is keeping you from advancing in your sport.

Pose #1 is Pyramid Pose.  If you google this pose, you're sure to find lots of photos of people who can kiss their shins.  That is not our goal.  You may find that by backing out of the pose and engaging core muscles really shows you what the pose has to offer.

  1. Step one foot back, keeping the feet at a hip's width.  You're not on a balance beam., wider feet are better.
  2. Slightly soften the front knee, and press the ball of your foot into the floor.  Press the heel into the mat as well, and try to balance the effort so that your feet are evenly pressing into the floor (front to back and right to left).  
  3. Place your hands on a wall, chair back, or counter.  Lower your chest and lift your tailbone (in my classes, mooning the back of the room gets the most people in the correct position).  
  4. Re-visit the feet, and make sure they are still pressing firmly into the ground, then stay here or begin to straighten the front knee.  Only straighten the knee as far as you can still moon the back room and keep the feet strong.  This should result in a deep hamstring stretch.  
  5. Please do not lock the knees!  Hold the pose for 1-2 minutes on each side.

I will be adding to my friend's routine weekly, and I'll post each new piece of his "homework".  Follow along every week, and comment on your progress or other muscle groups that you'd like to see me cover.  I suggest taking the time to do a few long held, mindfully controlled stretches at the end of every workout.  The goal is to keep you active and trouble free for years to come!

Beth Martin

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