Hip Opening

In this Intermediate level Hip Opening sequence, we’ll work deeply into the large muscles of the hips and pelvis.  The hips and pelvis are sensitive areas we often associate not only with moving through the world, but also with intimacy, family, elimination of all kinds and survival. Many people find they store deep emotions, memories and sensations here, so don’t be surprised if your sensations are intense: this is normal. Find a place where you can remain entirely, compassionately present, breathing with the sensations. If this means you aren’t in some magazine cover version of the pose, who cares? Find your edge, your pose, your place to explore today - it will be different tomorrow, and every other time to you visit. So practice compassion with your strong hips as you unburden them from all the weight they carry, both literally and figuratively, every single day.

Things you might want to have handy: Yoga Mat, Yoga Blocks, Yoga Towel or Blanket

It is recommended to perform the warm-up before starting this routine.


Step 1: Awkward Chair Pose
Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Awkward Chair Pose

In the middle of your mat, stand with your big toes touching and find your Mountain pose. Exhaling, being your knees, engage your core, lift your heart and extend your arms up to the sky.

Step 2: Warrior 3
Duration: 3-5 breaths

As you exhale, sweep your hands down, palm back, beside your hips as you lift your right foot and begin to reach it back behind your right hip. When you have your balance, engage your left leg and straighten both legs, reaching out through your heels and drawing your shoulder blades together on your back.

Step 3-4:
Repeat 1-2 on the other side

Step 5: Extended Side Angle
Duration: 5 breaths each side
Pose Review: Extended Side Angle

Find your Mountain pose again. Step back about 5 feet with your right foot and place your foot at a 45 degree angle, opening your hips to the side with your left knee bent at a right angle. Lean your torso long over your left knee and bring your left hand to the ground or a block in front of your left shin as you extend your right arm up along your right ear. Maintain length in both side bodies.

Come back up through Warrior 2, turn your feet on your heels so that your right foot becomes front and left back and repeat on the other side.

Finish by stepping forward to Mountain.

Step 6: Eagle pose

Duration: 5 breaths each side
Pose Review: Eagle Pose

Lift your right knee with your hand on your hips. Cross your right knee over your left. Lift your arms up, and bring them to cross in front of you with your right elbow below your left. Bend both elbows and bring the palms together or toward one another. Sit deeply.

Repeat on other side.

Step 7: Pigeon Prep
Duration: 5 breaths
Pose Review: Pigeon Pose

Inhale through Upward Hands pose, then through a gentle forward bend and step back to Down Dog. Draw your right knee into your chest as you wave your spine forward and place your right knee next to your right hand and your right foot near your left. Lower your torso to your elbows or all the way to the floor, maintaining a broad chest and level pelvis. If your pelvis tilts, support it through core engagement or with blankets or blocks.

Press back to Down Dog and repeat on other side. When complete, press back to Down Dog, lower to Child’s pose.

Step 8: Cow Face Pose
Duration: 5 breaths each side
Pose Review: Cow Face Pose

Walk your hands back until you’re sitting upright. Shift your hips to the right and draw your left knee in, bringing your left foot to the right hip and stacking your knees. You may want to support your hips on a block or blankets, even very high at first. Reach your right arm up, bend your elbow. Reach your left arm behind you, back of your hand against your back and seek your fingertips. If they don’t reach, it’s okay, press the backs of your hands into your body.

To change sides, release your arms, press into the floor by your hips and lift your hips until you can change which leg is on top. Join your hands behind with the other elbow up.

Step 9: Fire Log Pose

Duration: 5 breaths each side
Pose Review: Fire Log Pose

Lifting the hips again, bring your left foot out in front of your right hip so your shin is parallel to the short edge of your mat. This is your first log. Bring your right foot onto your shin your knee. You may support one or both knees with blankets or blocks. You may elevate your hips on a blanket or stack of blankets. To deepen the pose, fold forward at the hips, keeping a long spine and steady breath.

Repeat on the other side.

Step 10: Lotus
Duration: at least 5 breaths up to 5 minutes each side
Pose Review: Lotus Pose

Find Staff pose and feel how energized your legs are! Elevate your hips on a blanket. When you’re ready, on an exhalation, bring the top of your left foot onto your right upper thigh and groin. If this causes any discomfort in your knee, back off immediately. This is half lotus and you may want to practice just this on each side for a while.

To complete the pose, take the top of your right foot onto your left upper thigh. Feel the stability of your seat and the steadiness of your spine. Enjoy your breath.

You may repeat this with the right foot first immediately, or simply do this practice tomorrow and use the opposite order to balance your posture.

Step 11: Three Faced Pose
Duration: 5 breaths each side
Pose Review: Three Faced Pose

Extend your legs to Staff pose. Bring your right foot in with your knee up as close as you comfortably can. Maintain engagement in your left foot, just as if you were standing on it. You may wish to elevate your hips on a blanket. Bring your right hand behind your right hip and wrap your left arm around your outer right thigh and feel your spine revolve around your central axis as you hug your leg into your body. You can gaze forward or gently behind.

Return to Staff and repeat on the other side.

Step 12: Plow pose
Duration: 5-25 breaths
Pose Review: Plow Pose

Come to a supine position on your mat. Drawing your knees in, lift your hips and extend your legs over and behind your head, your toes reaching for the ground. Maintain engagement through your core so you are lifting your pelvis up and away from your rib cage. Join your hands behind your back and enjoy this strong stretch of your body.

Perform the relaxation sequence to complete this routine.

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