This intermediate forward bend practice begins with standing poses to wake up the hips and legs and establish the relationship between the legs and the torso. Props are used to help define and open the front of the hip crease, creating separation between the legs and torso. Then come inversions, in which the legs are used to lift and support the torso, creating torso/leg separation in a different way. Single leg variations in Shoulder Stand are included to work with the relationship of the legs to the hips once again. Finally, simple seated forward bends are practiced, with and without props to explore the leg/hip relationship.
The practice begins with seated poses to wake up the ankles, feet and knees. It follows with reclined poses to stretch out the backs of the legs and to open the hips in outward rotation. After that come lateral standing poses, in which the theme of the day, the spirals in the legs and torso, can be optimally employed. It ends with restorative poses to settle and center the system.
This advanced twisting practice begins with standing poses to open up the backs of the legs and the back of the torso and follows with twisted variations in inversions. After some floor poses to reintegrate the limbs into the torso and to allow the spine to lengthen in the horizontal, Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose) is introduced to restablish the twisting of the torso. This is then taken into seated twists and Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose).
This basic sequence begins with standing pose work facing into the wall for feedback and support, creating mobility in the hips and pelvis and length in the sides of the torso. It follows with reclined poses, seated poses and abdominal poses followed by restorative poses to release the abdomen and hips.
Advanced Practice: Balance the Pubic Bone and the Sacrum and Create Space inside the Pelvis (Forward Bends)
Today we will begin our practice with sun salutations and arm balances to integrate the torso and the limbs. After that we have Head Stand and Shoulder Stand with variations that emphasis the relationship between the torso and the legs at the hip and that open up the backs of the legs, buttocks and lower back in preparation for seated forward bends. We focus on some of the single-leg seated forward bends and Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose) before finishing off with a brief Shalabhasana ())Locust Pose) to reintegrate the back.
This practice includes standing poses that emphasize flexion in the hip and opening up the backs of the legs as a preparation for seated forward bends. It also features bent-leg poses as a vehicle for highlighting the relationship between the thighs and the lower back without over-taxing the backs of the legs.
In this sequence, think of lengthening the inner thighs, as in the previous practice, while softening and widening the buttocks, the outer hips, outer thighs and lower back.
Think of softening and widening the entire side body from the outer hips all the way up to the highest point of the armpits.
The greater trochanter is the bony part of the thigh bone that is very close to the surface of the body at the outer hip/outer thigh area. It is a protrusion of bone into which many muscles of the pelvis insert. They alla range in a fan-like shape attaching to the pelvis and sacrum.
In this practice we are going to build on the freedom of the back we began to explore in our last practice by including the pelvic fans in our thinking:
- Soften and widen your pelvic fans inwards towards the pelvis.
- Allow you two pelvic halves to move inwards towards the sacrum in the back and the pubic symphysis in the front, supporting the spine and creating a separation between the legs and the pelvis.
- Soften and widen across the two levels of the serratus posterior (the inferior and the superior) muscles.
- Allow the pubic symphysis and the xiphoid process to soften towards the navel.
When people say they want to “open” their hips, they usually mean they want to stretch them out on particular way. For a hip joint to be truly “open” it needs to have good range of motion throughout all its possibilities. The thigh and pelvis have six basic movement possibilities relative to each other:
- Flexion: the thigh and abdomen move closer together in front of the body and the hip crease deepens.
- Extension: the thigh and the lower back move closer together behind the body and the hip crease opens.
- Outward (Lateral) Rotation: the front of the thigh bone turns away from the mid-line of the body in the hip joint.
- Inward (Medial) Rotation: the front of the thigh bone turns towards the mid-line of the body in the hip joint.
- Adduction: the thigh bone moves towards or across the midline of the body in the hip joint.
- Abduction: the thigh bone moves away from the midline of the body in the hip joint.
As always, the most important thing to think about when doing poses that have a forward bending element to them is where the fold is happening. This should be at the hip crease and not at the waist. In each of the forward poses,go through the following stages:
- With the back long and wide, and not pushing forward, fold at the hips as far as you can before the point comes when you need to round the back and shorten the front.
- Once you get to that point, keep the sides of the torso lengthening towards the head as you proceed. Do not allow the torso to slump back towards the hips.
- If necessary, do your straight-leg poses with the knees bent to keep the headward length of the torso.