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Season 2 - Episode 8

Freedom in Your Hips

25 min - Practice


Julie shares a gentle and meditative floor sequence to open and stretch the hips. We explore the basic mechanics of our hip joint, finding the internal and external rotation, and create space in the hamstrings, low back, and pelvis.
See the attached .pdf for a journaling exercise that goes along with this practice.
What You'll Need: Blanket, Strap

About This Video

Apr 28, 2016
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Jai, and welcome. In this practice we're gonna explore opening the hips. You're gonna need either a blanket or a strap and if you don't have a strap I highly recommend finding a tie or a blanket, of something you can hold your foot with. I doesn't have to be, specifically, a strap. But if you have one, great.

This practice actually does not require a sticky mat. In fact, I'd prefer if you put the sticky mat away and use a surface where you can move freely on the floor. If you are on a hard surface such as a wood, cork, or bamboo floor, maybe use a blanket. If you're on a carpet, you might just use the carpet or place a blanket out, so that there's a little bit more room to have free movement and flow. So, let's begin.

Coming down onto our backs. I'm gonna start off by bringing my left heel onto the blanket, again if you don't have a blanket, just set it on top of the floor. Lowering down. Finding a comfortable position, both knees bent. I'm gonna start with a palms upright, but choose whatever is comfortable for you.

Settle in by just scanning the body. Finding your breath. Before finding any movement, can you just settle into the systems of your body? Circulatory system. Lymphatic system.

What do you notice? What can arise from the depths? And from that deep awareness, bring your inner witness, your inner gaze, towards your left hip. Just notice if there's any tension, any tightness, any opening. On your next exhale, I'd like for the left knee to open externally, so it's opening out.

And just notice as the knee falls outward towards the left, is there any pull, is there any draw, is there any sensation that is moved into the left hip? And then from that external rotation begin to lengthen the leg forward towards the wall in front of you. Feeling the leg straighten. And notice as the left toes turn up. And then on your exhale, bend into that left knee, set the left foot to the floor, draw the knee back up towards the right.

That's the motion that we're going to explore moving from an external rotation to an internal rotation. A full motion of the hip joint. So let's just continue here, letting the left knee open externally. Feeling the foot extend outward and forward, leg straight. And then draw the leg back.

Left knee bends. Just continue at your own pace. Just exploring, the pace might be really slow. The pace might be a little bit more fast depending on what is right for you. I like to take it slow because I can feel just a little bit more into the experience.

How do bones rotate? How do muscles support? How do ligaments connect? Just take one more round of circling. Just pause and sense into the difference between the left hip and the right hip.

You might bring the knees to touch. You might have the knees apart, whatever is more comfortable for you. Then you can just slide the blanket to the right foot. Again, if you're not using a prop, don't bother with that. Just bringing the foot and the attention of the body into the right hip.

Beginning by allowing the right knee to externally rotate. Just holding there for a couple of breaths. What has to change, what has to shift in your body in order to accommodate that external rotation? With your next inhale begin to lengthen through the leg. Toes turning upright and then drawing the leg back through center.

Right knee bends. Just continuing here. Right knee externally rotates dropping out to the right. And then allowing the leg to straighten. Right toes turn up, skyward.

And then just finding that facilitation of movement. Is there a place in your hip that gets tight or holds just a little bit more? Is there a way to bring in freedom or more support into the movement? And just take one more circle. Just pause.

Finding the subtle difference between the right and left hip. And from here, we're gonna move into a little bit of a hamstring stretch as well as a more of a hip opener. So, to support yourself here, you might sit yourself upright. And you might bring your blanket or even your mat and roll it out so that there is some support for your spine. Here's where you will grab your strap.

Setting yourself up, I'm going to move my feet towards the wall, that might be of support for you as you come down. And finding your strap, you kind of unroll it, so it's available to you. Setting it aside for just a moment, getting comfortable. Taking a breath. I'm gonna start by bending both of my knees and bringing my strap around my left foot.

Now, for some people, it's difficult to get the strap to the left foot so one thing that I recommend if that is something that is difficult for you, you can sit yourself upright and start off by bring the strap around the foot and then lying back down. And then from there bending into the knees and straightening the left leg. If that's something that is not difficult for you, you can always just place the strap over the foot while you're lying supine, lying on your back. And you might start with your left knee bent in order for the left hip to settle towards the floor. You might also choose to extend your right leg out onto the floor, depending on your flexibility.

Pause there for a moment and see if there is any communication in the backside of your leg into your hip. Noticing the language of your body. Is there a place to soften? Is there a place for support? For instance, I'm lifting up through my heel drawing the toes back towards the face.

From that position letting my left hip settle towards the floor, letting go of what's called the greater trochanter, the outer part of the hip towards the floor. Releasing my shoulders. Both hands taking a hold of the strap. And then we're gonna begin to take some circles into the left hip. This can be as small or as big as you would like the circles to be.

And I like to imagine that I'm drawing a little circle up on the ceiling with the heel of my foot. The arms can follow along or the arms can stay stable. But can you really get into that hip joint? Is there a part in the circle that you tend to avoid or forget about? And can you explore the entirety of that joint space?

And maybe go the opposite direction. Being curious if that has anything to say. One more round in that circle. Once you come back to center, go ahead and pause, bending into your right knee, bringing your right sole of the foot down towards the floor. You're going to take the strap off of the foot and set it aside, to bring your left ankle onto your right thigh.

Externally rotating that left knee, so pressing it forward away from the body. You can even use your left hand to press the thigh forward. And just bring, for a moment, your attention to your sacrum, to the midpoint of your back. And notice if the weight tends to go more towards one side or the other. And see if you can find a neutral point, a central point, of the sacrum down towards the floor.

Balancing out the two halves of the hips. And you might stay here, this might be plenty. You might also choose to interlace your fingers around your right leg and draw the right knee and left leg up towards the body. I know, for myself, when I enter into hip opening, my breath is incredibly therapeutic for all of the intensity and sensation that I receive. So, can you find the breath moving into the left hip joint?

Can it support it? Can it cradle the sensation? And then on your next exhale, slowly release the right foot to the floor and we're gonna come to a piriformis stretch. So with the right foot placed on the earth, the left ankle on the right thigh, you are going to imagine that that left ankle is glued against that right thigh, that it's not going anywhere. That you're keeping the left leg in this external rotation as you begin to take your right knee and left foot over to the right.

And hopefully it touches down towards the floor. If it doesn't, you can bring a block or a pillow underneath the knee and the foot to help catch it. Opening the arms out towards the side, you could also bring the right hand to the left thigh and give it a nice press forward or a drawing sensation down. And you might play around with the sensation and what feels best to you. What I'm feeling currently is a stretch on the outer side of my thigh up into the outer side of my left hip.

And you might choose to stay and pause here. I really like the use of my hands as touch to experience just a little bit more. There might be an invitation to let go of flesh away from bone. So whatever compassion or loving kindness you can send to your hip or to your leg along with the breath. Stay there as long as you would like.

Or follow along by inhaling and bringing the legs back to center. Releasing the left foot onto the floor and just pausing, again, noticing the difference between the right and left side. And then we'll make our way to the right, taking your strap, bringing it to your right sole of your foot and extending it up towards the ceiling. Just pause for a minute before going any further, just see if there's any other support that could be helpful, that could be compassionate. If you need to, you can extend the left leg or keep the knee bent.

Whichever is best for you. Similar to the left side, exploring the right heel's lift towards the sky, right hip settling towards the floor and then from there taking the circle. In your minds eye, thinking about the circle being drawn on the ceiling. And from that circle of the heel and the foot, it radiating down the leg towards the hip joint. Feeling that full connection and experience.

And then the opposite direction. Where do you find the hip to get stuck? Where do you find the hip to open? If you feel your knee locking out, finding a soft bend so that you can allow the energy to move into the hip rather than into the knee. And then taking the leg back into center.

Go ahead and pause, bend your left knee, bring the left foot to the floor. Release the strap down to the earth. And then taking your right ankle onto your left thigh in that figure four leg shape. This is a great place to pause. Bringing your attention to your sacrum.

To your lower back and finding that balance midpoint of the lower back. You might choose to stay here, you might choose to interlace the fingers around the backside of the leg to draw the legs in towards your body. Some of my clients also use a strap around the leg if it's difficult to bring the hands to the back of the thigh. Let the hip soften down on the right side continuing in that external rotation of the right knee forward. As you enter into this sensation, does the upper body become tense?

Can you let go the shoulders? Can you let go of the jaw and the tongue and the forehead? Then exhale, release the left foot to the floor. Keeping the right ankle against the left thigh, imagining that it's glued there, slowly begin to allow the right foot and the left knee to move over to the left. Again, it might settle to the floor, you might choose a block or a blanket, pillow, to help prop up the fight and the knee.

You might use your hands as support and as guidance in the pose. Does the knee come forward? Does the knee press out? Soft movements might be nice or just staying in one place. If the hands don't feel supportive, arms can come out.

Let the breath be the gentle reminder to let go. One more full breath. With your next inhale take it back into center. Release the right foot to the floor. That last time to just notice the right and left side.

The last pose would be walking the feet apart and bringing the knees to touch, which is an amazing release for the lower back, for the sacrum, and SI joints. Keep the hands on the belly or arms down by the side. And you can stay in this restorative position or you might windshield wipe knees out and in, letting one knee drop towards the midline as the other knee pulls away. Meeting the hips in this internal rotation. Noticing your limits, how far the legs can go in.

One more with each leg. And then coming back to center and we'll prepare for our final resting pose of savasana. You might choose to keep your knees bent or you might extend your legs forward. Just find comfort here. Release and relax.

Stay in savasana if that's what you need. And begin to find some gentle movement. Finger tips and toes. Lengthening of the inhales and the exhales. From the depths of your body slowly begin to make your way to a seat, choosing to press yourself directly upright or moving over into fetal position on one side.

And then with a free hand, press yourself up, come to a seat, however that looks in your body and to your heart, anjali mudra. Adi om shanti shanti peace, peace. May all beings know peace. Namaste.


1 person likes this.
When I opened the journaling excercize it only had the title page.
Sarah Beston
1 person likes this.
Dear Sam, the journaling exercise poses this question: How can you send loving kindness to your hips. Best wishes, Sarah
1 person likes this.
Thank you.
Maria Elena D
Oh! how wonderfully freeing!!!! :) thank you Sarah! made me realize how powerful simple movements can be.
Laura M
1 person likes this.
So good!!!!Thank you!!!
Julie Westlin-Naigus
I am so glad that you enjoyed it Laura! Thanks for checking out my video.

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