Posted on April 12 2018
You know the feeling when your body is tight—you feel locked up and maybe even weighted down. That’s especially true when the legion of muscles and tendons around your hips is tense. Depending on the season, car trips, errand running, decorating and even parties can all leave you feeling stiff and tired. It’s not just that you have to hold your body in odd positions while sitting or driving.
Your hips also cradle the First Chakra (located at your pelvic floor), which controls your desire to hang onto to both emotional safety and material possessions. Again, sometimes it might feel like the only message of moment is just how much you need the latest iPhone. No matter how much you try to choose what you really need, living in a materialistic world makes it hard to not keep up with the Joneses.
So, when you hit your mat in these hip openers, think about releasing the pressure to hold onto “stuff.” Bring your focus back to the things that truly make your life feel richer. As your body stretches, it can help to visualize your mind opening up and releasing the “musts” and “shoulds” that make your life stressful.
Here are some yoga poses and tips to try:
Agnistambhasana (Fire Log Pose)
Benefits: This pose opens your hips with gravity, letting you release into the stretch.
How to do it: Begin sitting on a thick folded mat or blanket. Bend your left leg in and turn it out, laying the outside of your leg on the floor with your left foot outside your right hip. Slide your right leg on top of your left. If it’s available to you, bring your right leg across so that your foot rests on your left knee. Lengthen your front body and place your hands out ahead of you. Without rounding your back, fold forward. Hold for one minute, then release and repeat with the other leg on top.
Benefits: Stretching your hamstrings in this pose creates space all through the back of your pelvis.
How to do it: Begin in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Bend your left leg and place your foot just in front of your sitting bone. Press your right hand against the inside of your right leg. Bring your hand in front of your ankle and grasp the outside of it. Clasp your left hand around the inside of your right foot. Lean slightly back, focusing on keeping your core engaged, and raise your leg to about head height. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to one minute, then release and repeat on the other side.
Parivrrta Janu Sirasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose)
Benefits: The twist in this pose adds a stretch in your torso, which helps free your hips.
How to do it: Start sitting on your mat. Bend your left leg in and let it open to the side. Your left foot should be close to your hips. Open your right leg to the side. Bend to the right, visualizing bringing your right shoulder to your leg. With your right arm on the floor inside your right leg, wrap your hand around your right foot so that your thumb is on top of your foot and your fingers grasp your arch. Bring your left arm up and clasp the outside of your right foot. Look at the ceiling. Hold for one minute. Release by unclasping your foot and bringing your torso back to the center of your legs before coming up and changing legs to repeat on the other side.
If you are in the car for a long time, give yourself a break when you get out to rotate your hip in and out. A forward bend can also help release your hamstrings.
Getting rid of physical things you don’t need is a powerful metaphor for shedding stressful thoughts and actions. And, it’s a great way to connect with the true spirit of releasing if you take all of those unneeded, unnecessary goods directly to a donation center.
Remember, this is not about berating yourself for feeling stressed or tight. Enjoy the sensation of release without judgment. Think of expanding your horizons as you stretch.