This hip opener stretches the inner thighs and gluteal muscles while strengthening the outer hips and hip flexors. Props and modifications can make this active stretch available to nearly everyone. Generally the front knee is deeply bent so that the thigh is parallel to the floor. If that is too deep a leg stretch for you, don’t bend the knee as much, as shown in the standing chair variation. Find the stretch that suits YOUR body, even if it is not exactly what you see on the screen. Don’t forget to practice this pose on both sides!
Chair, seated: Sit up tall with a long straight spine. Keep the hips open to the front of the room with both hips firmly on the chair. Open the left leg out to the side and keep it bent with the knee over the angle. Extend the right leg straight out to the side with the toes pointed forward. Stay upright, or lean to the left with the left elbow balanced on the left knee and the right arm extended overhead.
Chair, standing: Stand behind a chair holding onto the back and step an arm’s length away. Step the right leg back and release the right arm, turning the toes and body to face out. Bend the left knee keeping it over the ankle. Sweep the right arm up along the side of the head, or bring the hand to the hip in the case of shoulder pain or limitation. Keep the left hand on the chair for balance, and look for a stretch in the inner thighs.
Standing: Repeat the steps above in the standing chair variation of the pose. Instead of holding onto a chair with the left hand, let the elbow drop to the thigh for support. If you are able the keep the torso facing forward and the spine straight, you can drop the hand to a block on the inside of the left foot. The right arm can reach out through the fingertips alongside the ear, pointing up to the ceiling, or the arm can rest along the torso. The head can be facing forward or looking up at the ceiling. You can also drop the back knee to the floor for more support, which adds a twist to the torso.
Reclining/Restorative: If standing or chair poses don’t seem right for you, a similar stretch of the inner thigh can be achieved lying face down in half frog pose. In this pose, lie on the belly with the forehead resting on the backs of the hands. Begin to bend the knee drawing it up towards hip, but keeping both the knee, foot, and hip on the floor. Keep the hips and pubic bone pressing down into the mat. This should produce a gentle inner thigh stretch. Do one leg at a time, and notice any differences from one side to the next.
I want to share with you the yoga I practice, teach, and live.