Why practice hip openers? Muscles in the hips stabilize the body, control mobility, and can affect the health of the lower back. When muscles are tight or constricted, they are also often weak which leads to imbalance in movement and support. Stretching and strengthening the hip muscles can open the pathway to overall improvement in physical health. Welcome to Day 2 covering all sorts of lunges!
Low lunge stretches the back leg hip flexors, the muscles in the front of the hip that are responsible for bringing the knee up the chest when walking. They also stretch the hip extensors on the front leg, which include the muscles of the glutes and hamstrings. Variations of the low lunge can also stretch the inner and outer hips and thighs. That means that the low lunge is a great practice for stretching many muscles in the legs, hips, and lower back. You can also practice variations of a high lunge using a chair for support. This is a double sided pose, so don’t forget to switch sides!
Chair, seated: Sit towards the front edge of the chair and turn the body the left side. One hip might be off the chair at this point, or you can turn only slightly so that both hips are still on the chair. Both hips should be square to wherever you are facing. Bend the left knee, and extend the right leg back, until you feel a stretch in the front of the back hip. The back knee can be bent or straight, depending on your flexibility.
Chair, standing. Stand behind the chair and hold on to the back with the hips parallel to the back of the chair. Step the right leg back with the toes pointed forward and bend the front knee so that it is right over the ankle. Straighten the back leg. Keep the spine straight and tall with no curve in the lower spine. Or follow the same alignment as above, but place the front foot on the seat of the chair.
Mat: Place blocks on either side of the front foot. From tabletop position, step the left leg forward between the blocks with the knee right over the ankle. If you are not feeling a stretch in the front of the right leg, slide the right knee backward until you do. Keep the hips square to the front of the mat. The spine should be straight and long with the tailbone tucked forward to keep the lower back supported. Move the blocks towards the hips to bring the spine upright, and turn the blocks to any height that is comfortable and supportive.
To stretch the inner and outer thighs, move the blocks to the inside of the left foot and move the left foot to the left side of the mat with the toes pointed forward or out to the side. Stay upright on blocks or you can deepen the stretch by moving the torso lower and dropping the forearms to the blocks at any height. You may not need the blocks at all in this position.
Reclined/Restorative: Lie on the back with the lower back resting on the mat. Bend the right knee and keep the right foot on the floor for more back support, or let the straight right leg rest on the floor. Bend the left knee into the chest either holding the shin or back of the leg with the hands, or using a strap on the bottom of the foot.
I want to share with you the yoga I practice, teach, and live.