The Happy Back Show Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 11

Happy Hips

40 min - Practice
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Arturo guides us in a simple floor practice that targets the hips, hamstrings, and back body. We begin by exploring the range of motion in our hips with some easy stretching. With the help of a ball, we dive in deeper, breathing into sensation to find greater relief. This slow and groovy practice leaves us feeling relaxed and open.
What You'll Need: Mat, Tennis Ball, Square Bolster, Blanket (3)

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(waves splashing) Hi, in this session we're gonna do a longer practice that is yummy for the back and hips. And for this practice, you'll need a little bit more in the way of propping, three blankets, or beach towels work also, and then a bolster. You can also just use a couch cushion works pretty well for the bolster, and a ball of some sort, a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, something for the point work that we're gonna be doing in the hips. So let's start off by taking one of the blankets at the head end of your mat for a head pillow, and grabbing the ball so it's nearby. Coming on to your back.

Bringing the head pillow in comfortably. And just have the ball within easy reach. We're gonna start off with the right hip. You can straighten the left leg out and draw the right knee in towards the chest. Gonna take the right hip through a range of motion.

We want to move the hips in the really easy range of motion, and then start to move the hips in directions that you might not do in your day-to-day life, opening the knee out towards the right side, crossing the knee to the other side of the body over to the left. This motion, taking the hips through the full range of motion helps lubricate the hip joint. All of our joints are lubricated and stimulated by movement. The motion is lotion in the joints. (exhaling) Any time you get to a speed bump, a tight spot, you can pause there, breathe there a bit, and just notice how your range of motion is.

Come back to the center and release the right foot down. Bend the left knee, and place the left foot on the floor, and then get your ball. Over on your right side, you're gonna tip the knees a little to the left, slide the ball into the outer booty, and then tipping the knees towards the ball until we get just the right amount of pressure to find one of the tight spots on the outer hip. (deep, sighing breaths) So your left hip may stay down on the ground or you may end up rolling up onto the ball so much that your left hip floats up, but really paying attention to the amount of sensation in the right hip. Melting into the ball about four or five breaths, and then we're gonna reposition it, shifting the weight off the ball lets the blood flow back in to those muscles that we were just massaging.

I'm gonna scoot the ball a little bit. Find another point, and lean just the right amount of weight into it. Not so much pressure that I start to tighten up or hold my breath, just the amount that gives you that good, achy sensation, like a really good massage therapist does. (sighing breaths) About four or five breaths. We'll do three points on each hip.

If you're doing this at home, you can do more if you like. Coming off, for the last point, I'm gonna bring the right knee in towards the chest, cross the right ankle over the left knee. Find a new spot, this changes the arrangement, the position of the muscles in the hip joint, and oooooh, right there. Find a good spot. Moaning and groaning can be really helpful for releasing tension.

It helps us breathe and the vibration helps the energy in the body move. (sighing moan) It also makes it easy to count the breath. (sighing breaths) And finishing off, keeping the leg crossed like this, tipping the knees away from the ball, and slide the ball out. And then come back to center. We're gonna reach the right hand between the legs, the left hand around the outside.

If you can't reach the back of your thigh or your shin, you can use a strap or a belt from a robe to extend your arms so you can take ahold of the back of the knee or the shin. I'm gonna grab the back of my knee, and draw the left knee in towards the chest. Feeling a stretch in the outer right hip. (sighing breath) Make sure that you keep breathing. It's really easy, this outer hip stretch can be quite sensation filled, and it's really easy to start holding the breath when we're feeling a lot of sensation.

Good, if you were grabbing the shin, then slide the hands back around to the back of the thigh, the knee pit area, and start to straighten the left leg towards the ceiling, however straight it goes, and lift your toes back towards your belly. Reach out through the heel. Inhale here. As you exhale, engage your abs a little bit more. If you're feeling comfortable in your neck, you can even lift your head slightly or you can leave your head down and just look down towards your belly with your eyes, that will help turn your abs on a little more as you continue to breathe here.

One more big breath. Reaching out through the left heel. And as you exhale, slowly bend the knee. Release the left foot to the ground. Let go of the back of the leg.

Uncross the leg, and come to take a rest either with your legs out straight or your knees bent. Pausing on your back just to check in with the sensations through your low back and hips. And then we'll switch to the other side, straightening the right leg out. Draw your left knee in towards your chest, take ahold of the knee, and an exploration of movement. Want to get the top of the thighbone, the femur to move through the full socket of the joint of the hip.

I like to think of it like I'm painting the inside of my hip with movement. Painting it with the breath. Pausing when you get, ooh, into some tight spots. (deep breathing) And then bringing the knee back to center, setting the left foot down. Bend the right knee, bring the right foot down to the ground, and find your ball over in the left hand, tip your knees to the right, slide the ball into the outer left hip and slowly shift your knees towards the ball until you get just the right amount of pressure.

The right hip may stay down on the ground, or depending on the ball you're using or how much pressure your need, the right hip may come up. Check in with your breathing again. Are you clenching your jaw, holding your breath? If so, ease off a little bit. Get to the place where the pressure is just perfect enough that you can still breathe and you can soften that outer left hip.

(exhaling and inhaling) And tipping the knees back over to the right, away from the ball, letting blood flow back in to the left hip. Shift the ball a little bit. Find a new spot to sink weight into. That's not quite it. Oh, that's it.

You can search around a little bit and find the most perfectly, lively spot where that achiness just feels great. And breathe about four or five breaths on each point. (deep breathing) And tipping the knees to the right, away from the ball. Slide the ball out for a moment, and for this last point, we're gonna bring the left knee in towards the chest, crossing left ankle over the right knee. Tip the knees to the right again, and find a new spot for the ball with your legs in this position.

And shift the weight on to the ball. Ooh, right there. When you find the right pressure, the right spot, breathe. Soften your outer hip with your breath, your intention, your awareness. (exhaling) And slowly start to bring your knees towards the right, shifting away from the ball.

You can slide the ball out to the side. Keep the left ankle crossed over the right knee as you come back to center. Then the left hand is gonna reach between the legs, right hand around the outside of the right leg, taking ahold of either the back of the knee or the shin, whichever is easiest to grab. Using the strap if you need to extend your arms a little bit, and drawing that right knee in towards the chest. (exhaling) Notice if your shoulders are climbing up towards your ears, see if you can relax your shoulders down and then bend your elbows to draw the knee in closer instead of shrugging the shoulders up.

And check in with your breath. (deep breathing) But if you were grabbing your shin then slide your hand around to the back of the knee. Start to straighten the right knee out, sole of the foot going towards the ceiling. And lengthen through the heel, lift the toes back towards your belly. You'll feel this stretch into your calf on the right side.

You can engage your abs a little here, maybe even lifting the head towards your belly button or just looking down with your eyes to help the abs engage a little bit more. One more, inhale, lengthening through the heel, reaching up. As you exhale, slowly bend the right knee, releasing the right foot down to the mat. Let go of the leg. Uncross the ankle, and take a rest with the legs out straight or the knees bent.

Taking a pause here. And as you're ready, you can slowly roll onto whichever side is more comfortable for you. Fold your head pillow up a little thicker so it supports underneath the side of your head. And just pause here for a breath or two. And from your side, letting your head stay heavy, your neck relaxed, bring your top arm down in front of you, roll a little forward, and press with the hands so you roll up your spine.

The head's gonna be the last thing to come up. (exhaling) And once you're up, we'll set up for a forward bend. Take one of the blankets, fold it in half and then, I have really tight, stable hamstrings so I need more height. I'm gonna fold it as thick, as high as I can get it. You can also use a block here with a blanket on top.

And I'm gonna come and sit on that and bring the rest of my props in. Opening the legs out wide, as wide as is comfortable, and we're gonna take one blanket underneath each knee. For those of us who have more height, we need a really kind of a thicker roll underneath the knees. We want to get the knees to bend slightly. If you're down lower, you can just do a single roll, but for me, I'm gonna do a thicker roll to put a little bend in my knees.

And then here, feel into what your low back is doing. My low back is rounded a little behind me, so I'm gonna bring the bolster behind me, bring my knuckles, my hands or fists down to the bolster and press down so I can start to tilt my pelvis forward like I'm arching my low back a little bit. And right there, I feel it in my legs. And that's where we want to feel it, in the legs, not in the back. So for me, I'm gonna stay here.

Some of you may be flexible enough to bring the bolster in front of you, and bring your hands to it, or bring your heart to it as long as you're getting a slight arch in the low back, and you're feeling it in the legs and not in the back. (deep breathing) When the backs of the legs are tight, it keeps the pelvis from moving when we're walking and dancing, and that's one of the things that can make the low back feel unhappy is that it's not getting its full range of motion. Stretching the hamstrings on the backs of the legs is one great way to help the low back feel happier. Checking in with the breath. (exhaling) And as you hold this a couple of minutes, you might notice that you can tilt forward a tiny inch more.

If for some reason your arms don't like pressing like this, you can also set up so you're up against a wall, and use the wall to help draw your back up straight while you're resting in this pose, Dragonfly. (exhaling sigh) One more, inhale. And as you exhale, release your hands from the bolster. If you're forward, you can inhale your way up. Let's bring the left hand out to the left side.

Inhale yourself up tall, and as you exhale, tilt over to your left, bringing the left palm down to the mat. You can bring your right hand to the upper right thigh and just get a side stretch on the right side here. You may want to walk your hand out a little further or you may wanna keep it in, depends on what feels great, opening up this right side of the body. You may even want to try exploring moving the right arm to rest over the right ear, and just relax, getting that lengthening through the whole right side of the body. Are you still breathing?

Three more breaths. (deep breathing) Good, and then releasing the right arm out to the side, reach the right hand out to the right like you're reaching for whatever your favorite snack is, and let that bring you back up to center. From center, we're gonna release the right hand out to the right side and tip over to the right. Left hand comes to the top of the left thigh. Getting a lengthening sensation through the left side of the low back, left ribs, especially you'll feel the ribs and shoulder if you bring the hand up overhead.

But you can always keep the hand down at your side. We'll take about three more long, steady breaths here. And then reaching the left hand out to the left side, reaching to pluck a flower. Coming back up to center. And taking your hands around to the outer thighs, use your hands to help bend your knees and bring your feet, your legs back in to center.

Let's take the blankets off to the sides. I'm gonna come down off my thrown. And then, coming around on to your belly. Ooh. Start off on your belly.

You can make a pillow for your forehead with your hands, and just take a few breaths into the low belly. It's a really nice way to massage your low back. And then from here, keep the neck long, the back of the neck long, and lift the neck a little bit. Lift the heart, and slide your elbows in underneath your shoulders. Pressing down through the elbows to help lift the heart forward.

If this is too high of a back bend for you, just walk the elbows out a little to the side until you find just the right height. And one thing I love to do here is to just I'm gonna exaggerate the movement. I'm just gonna draw my elbows a little bit towards my feet, and snake my low back out at the same time. This is a nice way to give yourself a little traction in the low back. And then come back to center, and we're just gonna hang out here for a few breaths.

Returning that nice curve to the low back. We're gonna stay here probably about a minute total, maybe a little longer. But if you need to come out sooner, just slide your elbows out, come down onto your belly, and take some breaths into the low belly. (sighing moan) Three more breaths. And you can slide the elbows out, come down on to your belly again, either the nose turned down or you can turn your head to the side.

And once you're resting here, let your hips get a gentle rock. Just a gentle rock side to side. And let the rocking subside. And we'll slide the palms back to the mat. Press down with the hands and slowly come up to all fours.

I'm gonna take one of the blankets up to the head end of the mat for my head pillow. And bring my bolster in about where my feet are gonna go. And roll on to the back using your hands, using the abs of steel. Coming back, adjusting the head pillow, and bringing your feet on top of the bolster. Opening the arms out to the sides.

From here, we're gonna do windshield wiper asana following the rhythm of your breath. So inhale at the center with your knees and nose. As you exhale, lower your knees over towards the right and your nose towards the left. Take the full length of your exhale to go as far as you go. And then as you start your inhale, start moving back towards the center with the knees and nose, arriving at the center at the top of your inhale, passing through the center, knees to the left, nose to the right as you start your exhale.

As you start inhaling, drawing the knees and nose back to center. As you exhale, knees to the one side, nose to the opposite side of the knees. Each inhale draws your knees and nose back towards the center. Arrive at the top of your inhale and pass through the center as you start to exhale. And follow the rhythm of your breath.

Each inhale drawing you to center. Each exhale taking you in to the gentle twist. A few more times on each side. Inhaling to center, exhaling to twist. And the next time you exhale your knees to the right, your nose to the left, we're gonna hang out there in the twist for a few breaths.

Knees to the right, nose to the left. You may want to stay in this position or you may want to see what it feels like to bring the right ankle on top of the left knee. If that feels great then you can stay there, but if it's not so good, then just go back to both feet on the bolster. Great way to wring out your body the way you'd wring out a wash cloth. Helping to squeeze stuck blood out of the muscles and organs.

Squeezing out the digestive system. Squeezing stuck energy from the meridians, the energy pathways. On your next inhale, we're gonna inhale the knees back to center, the nose to the center. And exhale the knees to the left, the nose to the right. You may want to try putting that left ankle on top of the right knee or not, but we're gonna hang out in the second side of the twist.

And the second twist in our bodies is like the second wringing of the towel or wash cloth. You squeeze out deeper layers of stuck stuff, squeezing out deeper layers of stuck blood, stuck energy. And with a wash cloth, we would typically rinse that stuck stuff away with water, but in our bodies we can use our breath like water. To rinse and cleanse. Washing away that stuff that we're just squeezing out with our practice.

(deep breathing) Next big inhale, drawing the knees to center, the nose to center, and as you exhale drawing one knee at a time and taking ahold of the back of the knee, opening the knees out wide, and the soles of the feet towards the ceilings. So coming in to Happy Baby. If it's easy for you to reach your outer feet, you can do that, or you can just hang out, holding the backs of the knees, and rocking a little side to side. And coming back to the center, release one leg at a time out over the bolster. Release the arms out to the sides.

If you're feeling cool, you can take one of your blankets and bring it over your body to be nice and warm for the final relaxation. You're welcome to stay here for your final relaxation for 10 or 15 minutes. As you arrive in the final relaxation, take some deep belly breaths, letting the belly expand as you inhale. Releasing that down towards the earth as you exhale. You can stay there or if you want to transition out, slowly bring one knee at a time up towards the chest, bringing the feet to the bolster, and roll on to your side.

(exhaling) Pausing on your side. (deep breathing) And let your head stay heavy, your neck relaxed, roll a little more forward, press your hands down. Slowly come up to find a comfortable seated position. Sitting up tall, relaxing your shoulders away from your ears. Thank you for practicing.

Namaste.

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