Find release through awareness and use of the hips. Try this sweet yoga sequence from Sonima and Dawn Feinberg to go inward and invite new spaciousness into the body and heart.
Downward Dog Split
Make sure that the hands are planted firmly into the floor, the navel is drawing into the spine, and you are reaching the bottom heel into the ground. This will begin to stretch out the backs of the calves and the hamstrings while beginning to warm up the hips.
Downward Dog Split Variation
Open up the hip by bending the lifted knee, while rooting the bottom heel toward the floor. This will begin to open the hip flexor to prepare it for some of the deeper postures.
Bend the front knee to 90 degrees and make sure that the toes are visible, so that the knee is stacked over the heel. Lengthen and engage the extended leg. Release tension in the neck by positioning it straight, as an extension of the spine.
Bring the back knee to the floor and sweep the arms overhead. Draw in the lower belly to protect the spine. Begin to sink down into the hip while simultaneously engaging the abdomen.
From a lunge position, inch the front foot out to the side, coming into a wide lunge with the hands placed on the inside of the knee. Take the back knee off the floor, if available, and either stay up on the hands or bring the forearms down to the ground for a deeper stretch. Remain in the pose for 5–10 breaths, continuously aiming the back inner thigh up toward the ceiling, and the chest forward through the arms.
Lizard Lunge Twist
From lizard, bring the back knee to the floor and bend the knee, so the toes reach up. Extend the opposite arm back and take hold of the ankle. Begin to twist the spine, so the chest opens toward the sky. This pose can be done on the hands or forearms depending on level of flexibility.
Ensure that the feet are hip-width apart, the belly is moving in and up toward the spine, and the palms are flat with the index fingers pressing into the floor. Breathe for five breaths.
As you roll the left hip bone forward, draw the right outer hip back and in toward the midline of your body, and extend the arms forward in front of the body any amount before relaxing down. Bring the right knee forward and place it on the floor just behind and slightly to the right of the right wrist, with the shin on a diagonal and the right heel pointing toward the right hip bone. Take your attention to the back leg and roll it inward so that the leg is in a “neutral” position. You want to have your hip bones square toward the front of the mat.
Stay in Pigeon and bend the back knee until you can grab the ankle. Keep the back leg rotating inward so that you can feel a stretch in the front of the thigh. If there is space, without strain, reach for the ankle with both hands, engaging the abdominal muscles and resisting the temptation to sink into the lower back.
Shin to Shin
Sit up tall and align the right knee on top of the left ankle and the left knee on top of the right ankle. Rotate both hips outward. If the top knee is lifted above the bottom ankle, place a pillow or block under the lifted knee for safety and support. If the knees are comfortably resting on the ankles, slowly begin to fold forward.
At this point, come back to Downward Dog, and repeat entire sequence on the left side.
Bound Angle Pose
Sit comfortably and let the knees open to the sides, drawing the soles of the feet to touch and the heels in toward the pubis. Open the feet like a book, and hinge at the hips to fold forward any amount.