Let’s get physical!
Here’s a sequence for the hips that addresses the muscles discussed in the previous post.
Begin in table, stretch up into cat (marjaryasana). Breathe deeply, then move into cow (bitilasana). Continue to move slowly between these poses, using the breath as a guide; inhale into cow, exhale into cat. When you’ve grown comfortable with the pairing of movement and breath, come back into table.
From table, push the floor away from you, pushing through your palms, and gripping the floor with your fingers. Push backward (as opposed to upward) with bent legs. Your knees will lift off of the floor. Slowly, press one heel downward toward the floor, then the other. Continue to walk or “pedal” the feet this way until you can straighten both legs just enough to feel a good pull through your hamstrings. It’s important to remember to keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears – focus on a feeling of breadth across your collarbones. Imagine someone pulling your hips backward and up. Relax your neck and allow your head to hang freely.
Bring one leg forward into a high lunge, dropping slowly into a low lunge (anjaneyasana). Relax your shoulders away from your ears and concentrate on keeping your hip-bones level and pressing forward. Bring your hands to the floor and slowly move back into downward dog (adho mukha svanasana). Gently walk your feet back up toward your hands, and with your head and chest leading, stand up slowly.
Take a deep breath in, and on your exhale, fold foward. Place your hands back on the floor and come into table. Press back into downward dog. Next, bring your opposite leg forward, into a high lunge. Move into low lunge, take a deep breath in, then exhale back into downward dog. Walk your feet up, then stand. Repeat this sequence of lunges on both sides until your body feels warm.
From table, bring one foot forward toward the opposite hand. With level hips, come into pigeon pose. You can move into king pigeon (eka pada rajakapotasana) if you’re comfortable with a greater stretch through the glutes and psoas. When you’re ready to come out of these poses, shift more weight into the hands and draw the front leg back into table. If you’d like to flow through a vinyasa here before moving to the other leg, a simple downward-dog, plank, chaturanga dandasana, and upward dog (urdhva mukha svanasana) combination works nicely. You can, of course, move from table into the opposite leg for pigeon without an intervening vinyasa.
As always, it’s vital to keep the position of your core in mind. These poses give us an opportunity to “play” with our hips – finding out where they are in relation to the rest of our body and learning how to orient them to make the most of the asanas. I hope that you enjoy experimenting with these poses!