Where in your body do you hold most of your tension? Your shoulders? Your neck? Back? Hips? Maybe in all of these places, right?
For the next four blog entries, we will focus on these four areas of your body to help relieve tension and tightness. We will start with your hips. Pigeon Pose, described below, is a fantastic hip opener.
Come to you hands and knees on your mat. Starting with your right side, gently slide your right knee toward your right wrist. Once your knee is touching your wrist, move it slightly to the right of your wrist. If you are able, guide your right foot closer toward to the top of your mat until your bent leg forms a 45 degree angle. If you happen to have more flexibility, perhaps you can align your right shin so it is parallel to the front edge of your mat.
Next, extend your left leg straight out behind you. To deepen the pose, use your knee and your toes to extend that leg farther back. You will experience a deep stretch in your inner right thigh, outer hip, and glute. Moving slowly, lower your heart down toward your right leg. This, too, will deepen the pose. Hold for 10 to 20 breaths. To release the posture, rise back up to your hands, bring your left leg forward, then return to your hands and knees. Repeat the sequence on the other side.
If this pose is too stressful on your knees, here is an alternative way to experience a similar stretch. Lie flat on your back, knees bent with your feet flat on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee (actually just below the knee). With your right hand, gently push the right knee away from you. You may experience sensation in your right glute as a nice stretch. This will also open the hip. To add more sensation to this pose, lift your left foot and draw that knee toward your chest. Continue to gently push the right knee away from you. Hold for at least 10 breaths and repeat the sequence on the other side.
Complete your practice by lying in Savasana for 3 to 5 minutes. Use this restorative posture to continue the intention of tension release.
Our hips tend to hold a lot of emotional stress and tension. Use this practice to help find emotional relief and relaxation.