Too Tight to Stretch Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 6

Healthy Hips and Hamstrings

35 min - Practice
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Alana leads us in a sequence to softly wake and warm-up the body by targeting the hips and hamstrings. We start supine with gentle stretches and hip openers, before moving into a few standing postures to generate heat in the body. We finish the practice with a twist and a replenishing Savasana (Corpse Pose).
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

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(waves crashing) Welcome. So, in this practice we're gonna wake up and warm up the body, targeting the hips and the hamstrings. So, we'll start on our back, supine, finding some easy hip opening, exploring a bit of internal and external rotation, and then come up toward standing to generate some heat, and then come back down to the ground. So, join me on your back when you're ready. And take a few moments here on your back to reach your arms over the top of your head.

And just begin by allowing the back body to lengthen a bit. So, feel that length in the tailbone all the way up through the fingers, lengthening through the side waist. Allow for an inhale. And then exhale. Let the back body release.

Two more times, breathing in. Exhale. And one more time, full breath in. And this time, as you exhale, let the knees fall over to the right for windshield wipers. As you inhale at the knees, come back up to center, and exhale over to the left.

And continue moving with your breath, inhale at the knees, come up, exhale to a side. Inhale, knees up, exhale over to the other side. Few more rounds with your breath. So the soles of the feet are wider than your hips, just to offer some opening through the pelvis, and stretch down through the thighs, and notice if your head wants to move at all with your knees or away from your knees. And notice where in the body you can relax a bit, and soften through the face, the jaw, you might bend the elbows to release and relax the shoulders.

Few more rounds with your breath. Let the knees come back at the center, and then bring the heels in line with your sit bones, you can release the arms along your sides, and I'm gonna bring my arms slightly wider so you can see the movement through the pelvis. So, from here, we'll take some pelvic tilts. Allow for an inhale, and as you exhale it, leave your hips on the floor, begin to draw your tailbone under. So you're pressing your low back towards the floor and the belly's drawing towards the spine.

And then as you inhale, roll your pelvis forward, arch the back off the floor, and lengthen through the front line of your body. And then continue exhale, curl the tailbone under, press the back towards the floor, this kind of scooping quality for the belly, and then inhale, roll the pelvis forward, arch as you lengthen, a few more rounds. Exhale, curl the tailbone under, hips on the floor. Inhale, rolling the pelvis forward, arching and lengthening, two more rounds. You're relaxing the effort, breathe in.

And then exhale and let the breath release. From here, draw the right knee in to your chest, and you might interlace the fingers around the top of the knee, or perhaps the back of right thigh. As you inhale, let the knee move away from you, and as you exhale, draw the knee in towards your chest, a few times like this, inhale, knee moves away, arms lengthen, and then exhale, draw the knee into the chest. Three more times. Exhale.

Inhale, knee moves away. Exhale, draw in, last time, inhale, knee moves away, exhale, draw the knee in. This time, bring the knee towards the right underarm, so, slightly wider, feeling the stretch more towards the inner groin and the hip. Take a breath here, relax the jaw. And then bring the knee back through the center, extend your right leg up towards the sky, and this where you can feel a bit of stickiness through the hamstrings here, you can bend the knee and bring your hands around the back of the thigh for support.

Now, drop your attention into your right hip joint, and we're gonna feel and find the external rotation. So, in this action here, the foot begins to turn out, kind of like a duck. And then the internal rotation, the inner rotation, foot turns in, and then continue external rotation, and internal rotation, a few times, like this, moving from this hip joint, and then noticing how the foot follows along. Good. As you come into that external rotation, pause for a moment here, breathe in, and as you exhale, bring the right ankle across your left thigh, keep the left foot grounded, as you inhale, rotate the right knee in towards your heart, feeling that internal rotation, and as you exhale, let your hip open, bend the knee away. A few times, inhale, exhale, let it open.

Inhale, rotate the knee in, exhale, let it open, a few times with your breath, and notice where you can relax any effort through your eyes, through your jaw, through your shoulders, and just dialing in that movement in the hip joint. Next time the knee moves away, the hip opens, pause here, flex the right ankle, this might be a strong enough stretch right here. You might choose to draw the left knee in towards your heart. Rock a little bit from side to side. If it makes sense, you might bring your hands through the legs, find the back of your left thigh, or maybe the top of the shin, and this is a nice time to tuck a blanket under the head for support.

Nice. Allow for an inhale, and then as you exhale, soften and relax what you can. You might rock a little bit from side to side here, and notice what's happening with your breath. Breathe into where you feel the sensation, breathe into where you feel the stretch. Few more moments here. And in this last moment, can you let the back of the eyes, the back of the heart, and the hands soften a bit.

Yes, inhale, exhale, let the left foot lower, extend your right leg up towards the sky, hands around the back of the thigh, and then point and flex the foot a few times, stretching through the top of the foot, and as you flex, draw the toes towards your face, lengthen through the heel. And then some circles with your ankle in both directions. Nice. And then, flexing the foot, spread the toes, now engage the core a bit in your pelvis as you slowly extend and lengthen all the way through your heel, lowering down, reaching, take a moment here, release your left leg, relax the physical effort, and just take a moment to pause and notice how you feel. Allow for an inhale. And full exhale.

As you're ready, bend the knees. We'll find that on the left side. Draw the left knee into the chest. Hands around the knee or the back of the thigh, and as you inhale, let the knee move away. Exhale, draw the knee into the chest.

Few times, inhale, knee moves away, exhale, draw in, three more times. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. One last time, inhale.

And as you exhale, pause, and you might bring the knee slightly wider, feeling that stretch towards the inner groin, the hip. Take a breath here. And then bring the knee back to the center, extend your left leg up, hands around the back of the thigh, and then drop your attention to your left hip as you feel and find that external rotation and the internal rotation. External rotation and internal. It's like a bit of flossing the hip joint.

We're moving from the hip. Last time, as you come into that external rotation, pause, and then bring the left ankle across your right thigh, let it open, flex the left ankle, inhale, rotate the knee into the heart. Exhale, let it open, few times, inhale. Exhale and open. Inhale, rotate the knee in, exhale and open.

Inhale, rotating in, exhale and open. You might stay here, you might draw that right knee in towards your heart, rocking a bit from side to side, and your hands might come through the legs, find the back of the thigh or top of the shin, and then softening the head and shoulders towards the floor. Notice what's happening with your breath here, breathe into where you feel the stretch, breathe into where you feel the sensation, and then soften and relax what you can. You might rock a little bit from side to side. Allow for one more inhale, as you're ready, exhale, lower.

Extend your left leg up, hands around the back of the thigh, stretch it out and then point and flex the foot a few times. Stretching through the top of the foot and then some circles with the ankle in both directions. From here, flex the foot, spread the toes, engage the belly, the hips stabilize as you slowly lower and extend all the way through the heel, and then free the right leg. Take a moment here and relax the effort, palms open, and notice how you feel. Feel the rise of the inhale.

And exhale. Release. From here, bend the knees, and then bring the soles of the feet wide, let the knees rest together. Your hands might rest on the belly here. Notice how this feels through your lower back.

Generally, this offers a bit of support through the lower back, wide through the pelvis and the sacrum. And then bring the soles of the feet together, let the knees go wide, and see how this feels on your lower back. So this is kind of a strong stretch in opening through the pelvis, through the hips. From here, you might reach your arms overhead. Hands might stay overhead, hands might find the elbows, as you take a few moments to really lengthen the spine from the tailbone all the way up, the back of the neck is long, and breathing.

Just a few moments here, softening the jaw. Notice where you can relax around the lower back through the pelvis, through the hips. One more inhale. As you're ready, exhale and release, guiding the knees back up, hug the knees into the chest. Let yourself rock a little bit from side to side.

And then from here, rolling to your side, using your arms to press yourself up towards a seat. And we'll come into a Sukhasana, so shin to shin, and you might sit up on your blanket, just to elevate your hips. So a simple crossed leg, take a few moments. Letting the sit bones settle, and then we'll find a side bend over to the right, so reaching the right arm out, and as you're ready, inhale the left arm up towards the sky, and root, go down from the left hip and sit bone as you reach up for that left arm. Get long through the left side body, take a breath here.

You might stay here, you might continue to walk the fingers out, softening the right elbow and stretching your arm up out and over towards the right, from here you might look down towards the floor, or you might play with rotating your bottom right ribs up a bit towards the sky. Breathing. And soften and relax what you can. As you're ready, take a look down, inhale, and reach all the way up, let the arm carry you up. Exhale, release the hands.

Exhale. We'll lean back and switch the cross of the legs. Bring the opposite shin in front. Second side. Reach the left hand down, inhale, reach the right arm up, and go down through the right hip as you reach up through the fingers.

As you get long through the right side body, take a breath wide into the ribcage. You might stay here or you might continue walking the fingers out and reaching your arm up, out, and over to the left. Find a place where your neck and head feel comfortable. You might round and look down towards the floor. You might play with rotating your bottom left ribs up towards the sky, gaze might look up, few full breaths into the ribcage.

As you're ready, take a look down, inhale, reach up with your right arm, let it carry you back up. Take a moment here to pause with the palms open. Feel the rise of the inhale. And exhale, soften the shoulders down the back. Nice. From here, let's come on to all fours.

Find your way into Table Top, hands and knees. You might tuck a blanket under your knees for support and padding if that feels good. Now, as you come on to all fours, take a few moments here, we'll find Cat-Cow. So, you might tuck your toes under to get a bit of a toe stretch. Shoulders over the wrists, fingers wide, allow for an inhale, and on your exhale, begin to curl your tailbone under.

Draw your navel up towards your spine, release your head, upper back full and round. On your inhale roll your pelvis forward, arch through the back, and lengthen through the front body so the collarbones are wide, but stay relaxed through the neck. And then exhale, curl the tailbone under, get round, releasing the head. Inhale, roll the pelvis forward, draw the heart through, wide through the collarbones, and lengthening. Exhale, continue get round.

Inhale, roll the pelvis forward and arch. Few more times at your own pace with your breath. And take a few moments here to explore any sticky spots in the body. Alright, you might begin to lean a bit from side to side, exploring those sticky spots, maybe through the outer hips, the ribs, your shoulderblades, up through your neck. Moving with your breath.

Okay, next time you get round, release the top of the feet to the floor, press your hips back towards Child's Pose or a variation of Child's Pose. So the knees might be touching or wide, and then walk your hands out in front of you, take a moment here, soften the forehead towards the floor. Inhale, and as you exhale, relax the jaw, let the hips settle towards your heels. As you're ready, inhale, come forward on the all four, shoulders over the wrists. Now we're making our way to Plank Pose, shifting gears a bit, spreading the fingers wide apart, shoulders over the wrists, drawing the shoulderblades down the back, and then drawing the navel towards the spine.

From here, tuck the toes under, walk your feet back and find Plank. So, we'll hold this for a few breaths. So, reach back through your heels as you lengthen forward through your heart. Back of the neck is soft and relaxed, the legs are active and engaged. Tailbone reaching towards your heels.

One more breath here, inhale. As you exhale, press back to Downard Facing Dog, root through your fingers, let the spine lengthen, feel your head release. Now come high up onto the balls of your feet. Bend your knees a lot. And as you bend your knees a lot, reach and lengthen your spine, reach your sit bones up towards the sky.

Take a breath here. Right, bending the knees will take the stretch out of the hamstrings a bit, as soon as we extend our legs, we feel the hamstrings respond and sing a bit. From here, extend the right calf and heel towards the floor, bend the left knee, and breathe into the back of your right leg. Bend the right knee, extend your left calf and heel towards the floor, breathe into the back of your left leg. And then bending and walking it off.

So just pedaling the feet a little bit, waking up the hamstrings. And then coming into neutral, finding Downward Dog, pressing through the fingers, one more breath here. And then walking the hands and feet towards each other. We'll find a Standing Forward Fold. Bend the knees and let the spine release.

Let the arms release. Keep the knees soft here, and let the neck fully release, so if you find your head is like, lifting up, soften the back of the neck and let it dangle here. Hands might dangle towards the floor or find the forearms as the elbows get heavy, spreading the toes a bit. From here, releasing the arms to the floor, spread the toes, bend the knees, keep the chin in to the chest, and slowly rolling up towards standing, keep your chin in to your chest, as you slowly stack the bones. Feel the heart lift, the shoulders roll up around the ears, and back down.

And just take a moment here, standing in Tadasana. Dropping your attention down into your feet for a moment, spreading the toes, softening the shoulders down the back, wide through the neck, palms open. From here, we're gonna bring our feet wide. This is where your two blocks may come in handy. So, as you bring your feet wide on your mat, at least about three feet wide, if you have two blocks, one is fine, but if you have two blocks you can set them up right behind your feet, and then from here, moving into Warrior 2.

So bringing the left foot in, and the right foot out, and that right heel is in line with your left inner arch. And take a moment here, bend the right knee and see what happens. Okay, check out your knee. Oftentimes what can happen is the knee kinda collapses in, which puts a lot of pressure on the knee. So can you feel, can you find that external rotation in your hip and let it open.

So that right knee is like moving back and opening. And then you can sink down, drop in a bit lower, and then root through the outer edge of your left foot. Reach your arms out. Inhale, draw your shoulders up around your ears, and then exhale, soften, relax your shoulders down your back. Reach from your heart into your hands, and then sink into your right hip.

We'll be here for about five breaths, so we're generating strength, stability, and a bit of heat. Let the sit bones drop. Breathing. You might let the gaze rest over your heart or look towards your right hand. Last few breaths here, put some effort into it, like really reach, extend, lengthen, and then soften a bit inside.

We're softening through the eyes, the mouth. Good. From here, we'll make our way towards Triangle Pose, so pressing with the ball of your right foot, extending and lengthening over to your right, and bringing your right hand to your block, or maybe your shin, and then extend and reach the left arm up towards the sky. Keep rooting through the outer edge of your left foot as you lengthen through your spine, your torso. Now, the gaze might look up, you might look straight ahead, or towards the floor. And that right knee can be slightly bent, that's fine if the knee is bent.

Breathing here. Let the bottom underside lengthen. We're looking for length through the torso, and then rotating the bottom right ribs up a bit towards the sky, towards the ceiling. Breathing. Okay. As you're ready, strong legs, we're gonna inhale and reach through that top left arm, strong legs, inhale, come all the way up to standing.

And then turn the right foot and the left foot out, we'll find that on the left side. For step Warrior 2, bend the left knee and see what happens. Notice where your knee is tracking, again, if it's kinda collapsing in, feel and find that external rotation in your hip as you sink down, root through the outer edge of your right foot, and then reach your arms out to the side. Softening the shoulders down the back, dropping a bit through your sit bones, and breathing. Five breaths.

You're feeling that strength through your legs. Now, as you put some effort into it, through the legs, through the arms, where can you soften a bit? Where can you find a bit more ease here in Warrior 2? One more breath. From here, moving towards Triangle Pose, extending the left leg towards straight, so it can be slightly bent, and then lengthening over to the left, so we're lengthening that underside.

And then hand might find the block, or you might prefer your shin. And then reaching your right arm up towards the sky. Inhale, root through the outer edge of the right foot, and then exhale, begin to rotate your bottom left ribs up. Find a place where your neck and head feel good, they feel comfortable. Three more breaths.

Rooting through the feet as you inhale, reach up with your right arm all the way up, and then turn the feet in. From here, we're gonna slide the hands down the legs, release the hands, and then you might release the head towards the floor. You can soften the knees here and let the neck fully release. Breathing. Right, most likely you feel a strong stretch through the back of your legs, through the hamstrings, maybe a dull ache through the spine.

As you're ready, toe-heel your feet slightly closer to each other, and then bend your knees, release your head, and then slowly roll up with the knees bent, chin into the chest, rolling up towards standing, keeping the chin in, feeling your heart, your shoulders, your head, and then bringing your feet underneath your hips. Take a moment to stand in at Tadasana. Take a moment to pause, let the palms open. Rooted through your feet, lengthening up through your spine. Feeling that strength, that work for your legs and your hips.

And then let's turn towards the top of our mat, and we'll come into a Malasana squat pose, and this is where if you have two blocks, it can come in handy. Okay. So, from Malasana, if you have two blocks, one or two can work, you'll bend your knees and find like a classic squat, and then finding the support underneath your hips. So here in squat pose, Malasana, this is a wonderful pose to stretch the knees, drop into the hips, open the hips, and with the support underneath you, you could be here for a little while, so you might stay here and work with softening your jaw, lengthening your spine, feeling that nice wide opening through the lower back, through the pelvis and the hips. For those of you that might have one block, I'll demonstrate.

You might have your block up at the highest setting and bring it under your sit bones, this is another kind of variation, it's a little less stable than the two blocks, but still, you get this nice support, and you can work on lengthening your spine and really opening your hips, which is essential for having an active, healthy lifestyle, being able to squat. Yeah. And the heels might be lifted, the heels might be on the floor, just depends on your body. Few more breaths here, and soften and relax what you can. Notice where you can relax through the face and the shoulders. You might stay here on the blocks, alright, depends on your body, if this makes sense for your knees and your hips and your back.

You might remove the blocks and sink down a bit. Again, your heels might be lifted, and that's natural, that's fine. Hands might rest in prayer, at the heart. Soften the back of the neck. Allow for an exhale.

Now, the transition from the ground is precarious, so in your own fashion, make your way to the floor. So, it might make sense to release your hands and release your sit bones, or find another method. From here, we're gonna roll onto our back. I'll turn around, and then draw your knees into your chest. Again, let yourself rock a little bit from side to side.

And then closing here with a spinal twist, so draw the right knee in to extend your left leg. Take a moment here to extend the left leg and flex your left foot. Gonna relax the shoulders a bit, long through the back line of your body. Bring your left hand on your right knee, inhale, and as you exhale, bring the right knee across your body, so finding a spinal twist, and your right arm might extend and reach out. Lengthen through the right side, inhale.

Exhale, relax your belly, and notice what feels good for your head and neck. So you might gaze over your right shoulder a little bit, or straight ahead. This can offer a nice relief, release in the back. Good, inhale, come back up to center. Extend the right leg and then draw the left knee in.

Take a moment to flex your right ankle, get long through the back line of your body, again, relaxing your shoulders a bit, softening your jaw. And then right hand on your left knee, and let it go across the body. You might reach the left arm out, allow for an inhale, and then exhale, relax through the belly. You might gaze over your left shoulder. And enjoy the stretch here.

When you feel ready, inhale, come back at the center. Extend your left leg, and we'll just take a few moments to rest, letting the palms open. Allow for an inhale and an exhale. Letting the back body release towards the floor. And relaxing any effort.

As you relax effort you might observe any sensation through the body. Now, you're welcome to stay here as long as you like. When you are ready to transition let your knees bend. Rock a little bit from side to side. And then rolling to your side, take a moment to pause on your side.

Making your way towards a seat. Just an easy, simple crossed leg. And thank you for your practice, namaste.

Comments

Loved this releasing sequence Alana. Truly grateful for your presence here. Blessings!
Thank you for your practice and presence, Simon. Have a wonderful day.
Thanks Alana! Having super tight hamstrings and this definitely helped! Love you videos!
Wonderful news, Jillian! So happy to know that we are practicing together. Keep me posted! xo Alana
Thankyou Alana - that was wonderful! I have Scoliosis and find the triangle pose quite challenging e.g to not bend forwards, but it does feel good as I am working on it!
Hi Glynis - Thank you so much for sharing. As someone who has scoliosis and has been practicing yoga for two decades, I find side bending, twists, and forward folds challenging and revealing of the "imbalances" in the body. The beautiful thing about a consistent yoga practice is that I can see and feel the immediate results from the practice... with my posture and breathing, and consciously work to develop inner strength, alignment, and compassion.
Thankyou for that - yes I feel so good during and after.

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