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Season 2 - Episode 6

Leg Flush

30 min - Practice


Lydia shares one of her favorite post-athletic stretching practices, to open the legs and hips and release the lower back.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap, Block

About This Video

Nov 10, 2016
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Hello. Welcome back. This is one of my all-time favorite post-athletic practices. It is fairly short, and I call it leg stretch or leg flush. So we're gonna go onto our backs.

And probably you'll like some sort of a strap, which you can improvise with like a towel or a belt at home. But it will be helpful to have something like that and then also a thick yoga block or a bolster or even a stack of books or pillows will also work. So let's come on down onto the back. Draw your knees in toward your chest, hug them in. And most of the time, our legs work like tree trunks, supporting us and doing a lot of work to feed up strength through into the spine.

But now we're gonna let them be a little bit more like seaweed, soft and weightless, and allow all of the stagnant fluid to come out of the legs and back towards the heart. So on the back we'll plant our feet, bring our right knee in towards the chest, and you can hang on underneath the knee or underneath, or on top of the hamstring or on top of the shin. And draw that knee in. Maybe pulse away and draw back in a couple of times, just checking out how much tension you have in the pocket of your hip. And then stay for a little while, take a few nice deep breaths and just enjoy being on your back.

It's lovely to have some permission to just lie around for a little bit. And then if it feels good, we're gonna slide the left leg out toward straight, toes pointing straight up. And then we'll take our strap and loop it around the balls underneaths the toes or maybe into top of the arch. And what I like to do is wrap my hands once or twice around the strap, just so I don't have to pull so much. I can just use the weight of the arms to come into this position.

If it's too much on your hamstring right away, then re-plant your left leg at any time. But it feels good for me to stretch it out, and then I'm just gonna bend and beam up through the heel and extend. And bend, exhale and extend. Just seeing if I can get into the Achilles tissue and the calf tissue a little bit by leaning up through the heel. So the foot is a little bit active.

It's okay if the knee's quite bent. Just go to where you can go, where you can feel that edge of just a good stretch, and you can breathe there. It's useful to have like a little space in your lower back, like a tiny little ant could crawl underneath your lower back. Or a little puff of air could come under there, just so that you're not flattening and curling your lower back or tucking your tailbone under. So you can do that by pressing down through the back of your pelvis, where your sacrum bone is, the back of the pelvis.

Just lean down, maybe roll a little bit towards the tailbone. Maybe there's a little wag to and fro here as well. You can also re-bend and extend at any time. And some people can not use the strap and hold on somewhere. But it's nice to have this kind of support so you're not reaching or tensioning in your neck.

One more nice big beautiful breath, exhale. And then we're gonna turn the toes out a little bit of this leg, and take it out to the side. And you can take your strap, both edges of the strap, in your right hand. What I really like to do is make a little kick-stand support with my right elbow and then, wherever along the leg that I wanna hold, place the leg in the hand, and you can outstretch your other arm out to the side in a T position, or place your hand on your hip. And breathe into this opening through the inner line of the leg.

Some people will be able to hold onto the toe or the outer foot, and maybe that allows you, maybe you're a little bit happier doing that and opening a bit more. And if you feel like your left bum is coming up and off the floor, then you can either re-plant your foot and use that foot to stabilize or place your hand on your hip and ground down through that left hip. And take a few nice deep breaths. Sometimes I like to roll my head side to side. Nowadays, we're overstraining our neck a lot by screen time, so it's nice to oscillate back and forth in the neck, really let the jaw go.

Try not to pop up too much through your left hip flexor, keep it nice and grounded. And then we're gonna let that leg come all the way back up. And without uprooting your right hip, take the leg across the body. Just a little bit, just until you feel the flavorful experience of the outer right leg. And I even like to take the pinkie toe side of the foot and reach that, like you're turning the foot, and you're gonna get into all these nice outer muscles of the calf, which get tight from walking on uneven ground, like if you're trail running or something like that.

It's really nice to get in there like that. You might have the strap. Beautiful, so now we're gonna start to take that more across, and now we're gonna peel the right hip up and off. And it might be useful to have a block, which you could place the foot on. Because not everybody's gonna have the ability to take the foot all the way down to the floor.

And I'm gonna do a little hip flip and end up on my outer left hip. And you can either be holding the strap with your left hand, or some people can hold onto the outer foot. Or again make that kick-stand support and hold onto the leg. So there's a lot of options there. So you can let that open to where you feel a good stretch in the outer hip up and across the outer part of the femur bone.

And the play here is to take the pelvis and instead of jacking up your right side and bunching up on your back, move the hip crease away from your face. It might feel really good to open up into a twist. And in all these twists, if your chest is really not grounded but your arm is trying to do the grounding, take a nice deep breath and exhale, really drop the back of the right lung here to the floor so that the arm isn't overstraining to take the twist, to complete the twist. Some people can even curl up here, bend the bottom leg. If you can see it, maybe you can reach it.

Hold onto it, and the more in line your knee is with your hip or your spinal line, the more you're gonna feel this multitasking posture in your quadricep in the front of the thigh. Again, right chest super heavy. Nice. Let that go if you're holding on. I'm gonna just reach up, take the strap off and start by taking the knee in towards my armpit.

And if I can reach to the outer foot or the big toe, I'll go there, and extend this leg up. So it might be a little bit more like this, drawing the knee in, maybe holding on, maybe holding onto the toe. And you can strengthen the bottom leg a little bit to support you. Maybe draw the leg a little bit more in towards your face. Take a nice deep breath.

And then we're gonna roll all the way back down on the back, let both legs come up. And just to prepare for this next one, just open up the inner legs and close. Doesn't matter where your hands are, but sometimes I like to cross like I'm folding my arms in front of the chest and just draw the weight of my arms down onto my front ribs, encouraging the front ribs to drop. And I'm just oscillating through this, really just gentle opening and closing, where the inner seam of your pants if you have one is pointing straight up towards the ceiling, not rolling the hamstrings up like that as much, although that's just a different way of doing it. But we're getting into the line of the inner thigh coming from the groin to the knee.

Inner part of the foot can reach up. And there's two options here. You can either create that kick-stand support and hold onto your legs. And breathe, and then see if you can encourage that tiny little bit of space underneath your low back, from the lower ribs to the top of the pelvis. Like roll some weight towards the tailbone.

Not so much that you're popping up or thrusting your ribs, but just so that you feel that there's a little bit of softness in your lower back. Beautiful, then we're gonna let the lower legs come back in, draw the left knee in, either plant if that's your choice or straighten through the leg, hold on under the knee or on top of the shin, draw it in, maybe do it a few times, inhale, exhale. And feel your neck, what is your neck doing? Is your neck trying to hold the pose? Is your mouth trying to hold the pose?

See if you can really let the neck, neck muscles and facial muscles relax. Sometimes if our eyes are straining or our neck is straining, that tension, because we're connected through this fascial network, just kind of moves through the whole body, and the whole shape of us gets tense, more tense. So just by softening your jaw, your mouth, your tongue, your eyes, even your gums in your mouth around your teeth, it helps to relax the whole organism. And then we'll start to let this leg come up. We'll loop the strap.

Might feel good to re-plant this foot, bend and straighten a couple times, beaming the heel up. It's like you're stretching taffy, if you've ever done that. This web of chaotic fibers underneath the skin. Slowly pulsing that open, maybe reaching through the right leg. Maybe there's a little wobble side to side.

Feet are a little bit active. Shoulders are soft. Any time you need to bend to get some reprieve from the sensation, you can do that and then re-enter. Put a little bit of energy into the right big toe, your straight leg on the floor or bent, being alive and reaching up if it's straight. Practice taking the breath in a little bit deeper and slower.

Doesn't have to be super audible, but sometimes it feels good to take a nice sigh, maybe opening the mouth and exhaling out of the mouth. Little puff of space under your low back, rolling the weight towards your tailbone. And then we'll re-plant if you like, and we're gonna start to take that leg out to the side. So you might choose to hold onto the strap, you might choose to make that kick-stand support. And you can turn the toes a little bit out on a diagonal, and that'll help set the hip joint a little bit deeper in the socket.

Might feel good to straighten out the leg. And if your foot's really rolling out like that, sometimes I'll do this whole sequence against a wall, with the foot pushing into the wall, and it helps to keep that knee and ankle on the same track as the hip. So you could play with that. Sometimes if the sensation is a lot too, the ribs start to pop up and we get into this kind of startled position. Take a nice deep breath, exhale, really soften your ribs into your skin and let your right hip get grounded.

May go a little bit deeper into the sensation. It's really interesting to find that sweet spot where you're not really pushing but you are getting into an area that you can sense that there's some friction for change to happen. And it's super personal what it looks like. Then we'll let the leg come back up. And without taking the left side of the pelvis up off yet, just take the leg across the body, and you might reach out through the outer side of the foot.

That's gonna get into all those outer ankle, outer calf muscles. And then we'll start to roll, all the over, do a little hip flip so that you're more on the outside of the hip. You may need a block. If you need it, move it over. You might do that kick-stand support with your elbow.

You might reach the foot if it's available. The knee might be a little bit bent. You can always pulse through the leg like this to warm up the tissue if it feels like it needs a little bit of movement before going towards straight. And reach that across, take a nice deep breath and encourage the left hip bone to move towards the edge of your mat. Take another deep breath and encourage the left lung, the back of the left lung, to come more in contact with the floor.

Let the arm be soft. Sometimes even like floating my arm in space. Just to feel that I'm not like overcranking open the arm to make the twist happen, if you know what I mean. Like move from the spine. You might like curl up, a little kind of abdominal feeling.

Lift the foot a little higher, it'll help you find it, and then move the knee more in line with the spine. If you have the strap handy, you could even hook it and use that. Last deep breath here. See if the space in between your shoulder blades can kinda plug down. Then I'm gonna release this, re-straighten the bottom leg, come into this side posture.

Might feel good to just draw the knee in towards the armpit here. Might be available to hold onto the ankle or the big toe and reach up, and then allow the leg to come a little in towards you. Can strengthen the bottom leg, the outer edge of the foot a little bit. Like to almost feel like my big toe is like reaching towards the floor of that bottom leg. It gives me a nice line of support through the inside of the leg.

We're gonna roll all way back onto the back, let both legs come up. And now we're gonna take the knees to the outsides of the hips. And you can either hold on on top of the hamstrings or on the calves or the ankles, or maybe you can reach the feet. And then draw the knees down. They come a little bit wide and down by the sides of the body.

A lot of people will feel like the pelvis really rocks up here. Go for leaning the top rim of your pants down. And keeping the back nice and long. And then wherever you're pulling from, you can pull a little bit the knees down towards the floor. Maybe it feels like there's a little wobble here.

And staying steady in the center, pubic bone reaches away a little bit, so you're nice and long. You might stretch that through one leg, and then you might stretch out through the other leg, kinda staying stable in the center. You might even feel available to stretch out through both legs. You can also use that kick-stand support. This one is unlike the last one where the inner thighs were rolling up.

Here the hamstrings are rolling up a little bit more. And then we'll let the legs come in towards each other, just give them a little shake. See if you can shake your thighs, calves and all those foot bones. Wiggle your toes. Even that stubborn little pinkie toe.

Place the feet down, and we're gonna reach for our block or whatever you have to substitute for this. Lean into your feet, roll up and place the block underneath the pelvis. You don't want the block to be in your lower back, so you're in more of a back-bending shape, but right underneath the pelvis, so that you just feel that hard plate at the back of the pelvis is sitting right down on the block. And then we'll take one leg up, and then the other. I just wanna make sure that I'm not collapsing and rounding in my spine here and kind of tucking my pelvis under, but that I do here have a little bit of an arc so there's a nice, soft space under my lower back that's rainbow shaped.

The legs can come up, and I'm bending my legs a little bit because, depending on how tight your leg tissue is, might be quite straining to have your legs up like this. So just bend until you feel like you can really drop the weight into the back of the pelvis. You can also do this against a wall, with your legs up the wall, and it's a little bit more restful. And that's a really nice way to flush the fluid in the legs after a long run or hiking, biking, anything using the legs a lot. And you could do any sort of free-form leg movement here.

It's actually really nice to move about in the hip joint. Sometimes I do kind of like an eggbeater movement, or take my hands on the knees and roll in circles, one way and then the other. Just to feel the hip joints without weight bearing on them. So it's like you're swimming in your hip joints. All the synovial fluid is supporting the joint.

Nice and smooth. You might feel little clicks and pops where the joint rubs in the capsule. Just see if you can stay away from those and make the movement nice and smooth. Although sometimes you can't, and that's okay too. And then we're gonna place our feet down, like a supported bridge, and just stretch one leg out.

And let it relax. Make sure your lower back feels nice and long. And you'll feel a little bit of a tug through the top of the hip, and then we're gonna activate that leg to turn the big toe up towards the ceiling and stretch out through your heel. Nice deep breath in. Exhale, and then re-plant that foot.

Stabilize by connecting the foot into the floor, and let the left leg, excuse me, slide out, and let it relax. Just feel what you feel through the left side of the spine, through the leg. Just enjoying this time for self-care. And then we'll turn the leg so that it points, big toe points more straight up. It's a little bit more active, and slide the heel away.

It's like your pelvis is like a snail shell, and your leg is like the belly of the snail just like oozing out of the shell. Getting a little bit more space, getting a little bit taller. And then we'll re-plant that foot, and I'm gonna lean into my feet. Take the block out or whatever you're using. And just let the knees fall side to side.

Sometimes it's nice to take your arms over your head. And then we're gonna come to center, take the feet wide. Turn the feet out like they're duck feet a little bit. And then again, kinda windshield wiper action, let the knees fall over to one side and then just stay there for a couple breaths, bringing your ribs in and reaching through the top leg. Some people might even take the left ankle on top of the right knee, if you can reach, and encourage, pulling that outer left knee more forward than down.

And then we'll switch over to the other side. Arms come over the head. Sometimes I like to put my hands on my ribs just to see what they're doing and pat them down. Soften them down. You can take your foot on top maybe and kind of encourage a little bit more length, as long as that doesn't feel that it compromises in your hip joint or your knee joint.

Bring the whole back body closer to the floor. And then I'm gonna unwind and, it would be really nice to finish this practice with your legs up the wall. So if you feel comfortable in that shape, you can put your bum right up against the wall and your legs up the wall. Just because we're here right now, I'm just gonna let my legs go straight and flop out a little bit, pinkie toe side of the foot heavy. If this is pulling on your back, you could also keep your feet planted, taking the arms out to the sides.

Huge breath in. Bring the breath all the way up into the upper back chest, behind the throat, and exhale. And really let the exhale be the biology of letting go. Like, feel letting go of tissue, that's stubborn and hanging on. Feel, letting go of some resisting thoughts maybe even.

And this is the nice part of really enjoying the residue of that flush through your legs. Softening your eyes, your jaw. And just feel that like bubbling up of happiness that comes from being with your body, taking care of your body, taking care of yourself. Might feel good to stay here for a little longer. But if you're ready, stretch your arms, stretch your legs.

Draw your knees in. You can roll over onto one side. Come on up. You can take a moment to experience something that you're grateful for. Maybe it's the miracle of being in this body.

Thank you so much, namaste.


1 person likes this.
Lovely. I feel so much more grounded. (And I'm NOT an athlete...:) )
Hi Wynter!
Happy that everyone can get a little grounding and release from this sequence. Thanks for letting me know. Hope you have a beautiful day. Lydia
Ahhhh Lydia, this is so nice for my tight hamstrings, and crackly knees. Turning the foot gives a more intense feeling in the side IT band. I can't reach the floor when extending to the side, but using a block under my shin helps me to relax in the position. I just love the osscilating, it helps me extend a pinch more. Flushing the legs is wonderful!
I walk 2 miles a day, and I am doing this today before my walk. Opening up those little fibers, and the hips, I believe will make a difference in my walk. Thanks for another gentle, sensitive session. So grateful.
Joan Love practice with you here! Big love to you! Lydia Zamorano
Thanks! This is just what I needed today.
Kit Happy!
Dear Lydia! After a spring and summer with a lot of orienteering this was what I needed. More than once I think. Love Katarina
Katarina I love doing this practice a few times a week. One thing that I love about having your legs up for a while is that it helps move stagnant fluid. In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika it says if you have your legs above your heart for 3 hours your can conquer death. I always laugh about this! But it certainly feels good to get that flush! Especially when you're on your feet a lot. Sending you big love! Lydia Zamorano
Another gem! I love how much fun it is to stretch, to get more flexible, but it has consequences. My cat Cassidy tried to climb on my chest while I grabbed my big toe (new milestone) and she was love-biting me. Chuckle. So many cool insights, especially with fascia discussion. I needed this flush. I road 118 miles yesterday with 8,400 elevation gain. Really taxing and way too long away from home, but the Catskills + Autumn = Epic. 
David Goldstein Your ride sounds incredible David! I can imagine those fall colours! And yes, I have found cats love yoga. :) Warmth, Lydia 

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