Our hips do so much for us but they are often an area of tension. A large hip muscle called the psoas, that extends from the lumbar region to the femur bone, is part of our body’s “fight or flight” response, contracting and tightening when we feel stress. Cyclists often have tight hip flexors because the hips never get into full extension on the bike. Yoga poses to open the hips (‘hip openers’ as they are called) can therefore offer relief and improved performance. Loosening tight hips increases our range of motion, and can help to alleviate back pain since when our hips are tight it is the spine that takes up the burden. These poses sometimes feel quite intense and challenging but they can yield powerful results.
I call this pose the Melusine after the river goddess known in Western France because from above it looks a bit like a mermaid holding her tail. If you have a yoga mat great, otherwise you can just do this on a carpet. If you sit a lot it is great to break up your seated sessions with this pose once or twice a day.
Lie down on your back with your arms to the side and your knees bent. Slip your right foot under your left thigh and take hold of the top of your right foot with your left hand. Bring the left foot across and over the right thigh and place it on the outside of the right knee with the foot facing forward. Bring your right arm up overhead to open up the chest a little, and turn your head to the left. If you have trouble reaching the right foot, especially if you experience any pain in the knee knee, then just bring the foot as far as is comfortable, keeping the extended right thigh as straight as possible. Relax the lower back muscles and breathe into the position. Hold for 20-30 seconds paying attention to how you feel. Repeat on the other side.
Respect yourself, explore yourself.
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