Yin Yoga Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 8

Release Your Hips

35 min - Practice


Alana guides us in a juicy Yin practice to find ease and freedom in our legs and hips. We explore the landscape of sensation for about 3 minutes in each posture exploring the shapes of Lizard, Mermaid, Funky Pigeon, and Butterfly.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Strap, Block (2)

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This is a juicy practice for our legs and hips. Today in our yin practice we will meet a lizard, a curious mermaid, and a funky pigeon. But first we're gonna start on our back with a strap. So find your way onto your back. Nice. And we're gonna draw our left knee into our chest and we're gonna go ahead and just wrap our strap around the bottom of our left foot. And extend the left leg up to the sky and as usual allow it to bend and extend a few times. So we're just kind of easing into the hamstrings and then moving towards that extension. So spreading the toes and reaching through your left heel. And now you might keep your right foot on the floor to support your lower back or it might feel all right to extend through the right leg. Maybe offer a bit of effort through the toes and the foot. And we'll start with a little bit of flossing from side to side. So you might bring the strap in your left hand and just let your left leg float from side to side. Starting with a little bit of movement before we hold. And finding some grounding instability through your right hip and pelvis. And just checking in with the whole landscape of sensation through the back of your left leg, the inner and outer hip. Nice. And then as your left leg comes back up to center bring your your right hand on the strap and then slow bring the left leg across your body. So you're moving in the direction of a spinal twist. But first pause and begin to just feel and notice the sensation through that left outer hamstring. Those muscles through the back of the hip and leg. Softening through the face. Inhale. And with your exhale you might stay here. Soften the belly and find the spinal twist. With that left leg moving in the direction of your right shoulder and then freeing that left arm and shoulder out to the side. And find a place where your neck and head feel good. Maybe it's looking over in the direction of your left shoulder and arm. And as you inhale feel and allow the left side of the body to lengthen. So from the shoulder to that left hip and with an exhale softening through the belly. Beautiful. And then inhale draw your left leg back up to the center and we're gonna hold here for about a minute or so. So softening down through the shoulders. Easy in the neck and the eyes. And then from here begin to relax some of the effort through the legs. Through the face. Through the arms. And breathing into where you feel the stretch. Become aware of any areas that are gripping. The base of the skull. Now open. Beautiful. Inhale and then remove the strap and exhale slow lower and lengthen that left leg all the way down to the earth. And stretch the arms and the legs out and take a moment to pause and track the feeling through the body. For me that left leg feels a lot more open and spacious than the right. The right leg feels on a small dense contracted. Let's find a clearing breath. Inhale. Exhale everything. And then bend the knees again. Feet on the earth. We'll draw the right knee into the chest and then strap our strap around the bottom of the right foot. We'll start with the bending and extending a few times. Easing into this side. And then extending the right leg towards the sky. And you can offer a slight little micro bend in the back of the knee so it's not hyperextending. And then drawing the toes towards the face. Reaching through your heel. And again check in with your lower back. So you might keep the left foot on the earth or extend for your left leg. So then bring the strap in the right hand and we'll floss from side to side. So letting the right leg go out to the right a little bit and then across the body to the left a little bit. Start with a little bit of movement from side to side without tipping over. Finding some stability through that left hip. And exploring in the whole landscape of sensation through the hamstrings, inner and outer hip, back of the knee. And then as you come up we're going to bring the strap in our left hand and then bring the right leg across the body. In the direction of that left shoulder and pause when you first begin to feel some resistance or sensation. And you might stay here. You might move in the direction of a spinal twist with that right leg moving all the way across. And it might feel nice to stretch and reach your right arm out from the heart. And then maybe the gaze and the head rolls in the direction of that right shoulder and arm. Nice. And as you inhale feel a bit of length through that whole right side. And with your exhale softening the belly.

Feeling the rib cage revolving freedom through your lungs. And then as you're ready inhale your right leg back up to the sky and we'll pause for about a minute or so. So you can bring the strap down both hands softening the shoulders down the back and long through the back of the neck. If you can relax the muscles a bit here. Softening the back of the eyes. And allowing your attention to stay tethered to the breath. You ready? Exhale remove the strap and then just slow lower that right leg all the way down to the earth. And relax the effort. I feel good to shake out the legs. And then bending the knees we'll move into a half happy baby supine. So drawing that left knee back into your chest extend the left leg up and maybe you can reach up and find the sole of that left foot the outer edge. You can also use your strap. Wrap the strap around the bottom of your foot again and then find happy baby here. As you draw the knee towards the earth and the foot it's like it's reaching up towards the sky as that left hip opens. You might stay with this or extend through your right leg. Nice. And finding that stability through the right hip. Maybe reaching that right arm out and breathing. Slow as you're ready. Bend that right knee. Bring the foot to the earth and then release that left foot. If you have a strap remove it. Both feet on the earth.

Clearing breath. Inhale and exhale. We'll find the other side. Draw the right knee into the chest. Reach the foot up towards the sky and then the right hand finds perhaps the sole of the foot or the outer edge. Again you can loop your strap around the bottom of the foot and then you're drawing the right knee towards the earth. Right with that foot like parallel to the sky. Shoulder blades softening down towards the floor and you might stay with this. You might extend and reach through your left leg. You'll be stretching that left arm out finding this half happy baby supine. A few more moments here. Breathing into the sensation through that right hip. Smoothing out the face. Beautiful. And then bending that left knee foot on the floor releasing the foot and then lowering that right knee down. Both feet on the earth. Clearing breath. Exhale. And then draw both knees into your chest and rock from side to side. From here you might roll to your side and use your arms to come up or you might rock and roll on your spine a few times to come up. Okay. So we'll transition into a lizard shape. Okay. So we're gonna use two blocks for this. Optional but they're quite nice. And any padding underneath your knee. So you might tuck an extra blanket underneath and we're gonna bring our left foot forward. So it's similar to dragon, right? We're in the shape of a lunge. And then it usually feels nice to have the two blocks or hands on the inside of that left foot. And let's inhale and just come back a little bit. So we're drawing the hips back and you can flex that left foot coming onto the heel and then exhale come into your lunge. We'll do that one more time. Inhale, drop back and exhale. We're in the lizard and we'll pause here for about three minutes or so. This is another spicy one at least for me. And you might stay up on your hands, right? This might be like the spot. You might play with spinning your left toes out. So your left hip is in that external rotation. That's one variation or flare. And then depending on your body, right, it might make sense to lower onto your forearms. And your forearms can be on the blocks, on the earth. You want to really customize it for you. And within the shape, you might lean a little bit from side to side. Like kind of exploring those edges of sensation. Another option is to bring the right hand onto the floor, the left hand onto the left knee and find a little bit of a twist here. Sometimes that can feel really nice. Letting that left hip roll open. Nice. And then maybe releasing back into a more kind of static hold. And you might release the weight of your head. And we're offering ourselves to these yin shapes passively. Really with the intention of awakening, stretching, what's called the connective tissue. And the sensation can be a bit curious, right? We talk about finding an appropriate edge of sensation. Here our breath is a useful and efficient feedback mechanism to really help us know how we're doing in our practice, as well as in our daily lives and relationships and conversations. So if the breath is relaxed, smooth, steady, usually it's a sign that we're in the right spot. If it feels a little held or short or shallow, you might back it out, right? You might back out of the sensation or you might change it up so that it feels a bit more spacious, like you're right on that edge.

And then slow, as you're ready, we're gonna use our arms and then slowly draw the hips back and then draw the left foot back. You might find a child's pose for a moment between sides, knees together or knees wide. Whichever feels best for you. Your head might rest on your hands or on the earth. Beautiful. And then as you're ready, let's find the second side. So we'll draw the right foot forward, coming into lizard. Okay, and you might readjust your blocks if you're using them. And then inhale, we'll draw the hips back. Come on to that right heel, feeling the hamstrings, and then exhale, lunging into lizard. And inhale, drawing the hips back and exhale and diving in. And then we'll pause here. Again, you might turn the right toes out, finding a bit of an external rotation through that right hip and any side to side movement. It'll really depend on your left knee. Again, finding that appropriate edge. And you might stay with this. You might bring the left hand to the earth or block and find a little bit of a spinal twist. Sometimes that can feel really nice. Right hand on the hip and twisting open to the right. Perhaps coming back into the lizard shape and maybe lowering onto the forearms, lowering the blocks, and allowing the body, your body, to invite you in or not. And the shape can bring up the fire in us. So you might cool that fire with a bit of an exhale water through the face, through the mouth, through the neck, through the belly, through the hips. For the last minute or so here, offering ourselves to stillness. For the next minute or so here, offering ourselves to stillness.

For the next minute or so here, offering ourselves to stillness. And then slow, using your hands, pressing up and then drawing your hips back nice and slow. And then drawing that right knee back. We'll take a moment in child's mind, finding a symmetrical shape for the body to settle. And then from here, we'll come into a side saddle position. So you can bring your blocks off to the side. We're gonna come into our curious mermaid shape. So as you sit, you'll have the sole, the right foot towards the left inner thigh, and the right foot is back a bit. From here, we'll inhale and reach our right arm up to the sky. Finding a bit of length, might walk your fingertips out. Coming into this, I call it curious mermaid shape. And then releasing that right arm and as you exhale, come into a funky pigeon. So you can kind of reorganize yourself. So the right knee and hip is in that pigeon-like shape and the back leg is funky. And so depending on your knee, you might have the foot further away from you with it flexed or closer in. I'm gonna keep it closer in for me. And then as you twist towards the right, you might stay where you are. You might slowly begin to release into a bit of a forward fold. Again, any support underneath your head, a block, or a bolster. And you might settle in with an inhale and exhale. Just about another minute or so here in your funky pigeon. If you can allow the muscles and the hips and the legs to kind of melt and relax around the bones.

I'm just offering your way to the earth. Softening through the jaw, lips. And then slowly pressing your way up and unwinding back through the center. We'll find the other side. So just carefully lean back, free your legs, and then we'll switch sides. So we're drawing the right knee and foot back, the left sole, the foot towards that right inner thigh, and then bringing the right hand behind you. Inhale, lift your left arm up for curious mermaids. It's finding that beautiful length through the left side. So good. And then releasing the left arm and then we'll twist towards our left knee coming into that funky pigeon shape. Readjust your back, foot, and legs so it feels right for you. And you might stay right where you are. You might ease into the left hip. You're releasing the forearms towards the earth or blocks. Maybe releasing the weight of the head. Just notice what you prefer to do with that back, foot, and ankle. And after a bit of kind of wiggling and wobbling and settling into a bit of stillness, I find it helps to really offer myself to the earth.

Breathing into where you feel the sensation, allowing the exhale to soften and carry away maybe any tension or gripping, holding. From here, as you're ready, keep the head heavy. Use your arms to press yourself up. And then slowly unwind. How do you feel? Lean back, free the legs, and finally we'll come into a yin butterfly. So finding a symmetrical shape, a little forward fold. You might sit up on a blanket or bolster, soles of the feet together, knees wide. You might stay upright. You might slowly begin to release. Again, the yin practice, it's more of a diamond shape, so the feet are further away from your pelvis. There's a little wobbling from side to side, and then releasing. Can any support under your head that would be useful, you might put it there. We'll be in this shape for about two to three minutes. And as you settle into a butterfly, what would it feel like to sincerely allow this shape to have more of you? Just allowing the breath to be relaxed, smooth.

We're working here with the elements of time and gravity. Noticing how the sensation in the body, around the spine, the low back, sacrum, hips, how the sensation may change with a bit of time here as we surrender to gravity. Last few moments here in this shape. And slowly, tenderly, as you're ready, round your way up to a seat. Take a moment to pause. You're ready. Guiding your knees towards each other. Bring the hands behind you, stretch the legs out, and we'll find a little side to side shimmy. Relaxing the effort through the legs and through the hips and the spine. Feels so good. And then from here, we'll close with a seat. If you prefer to lie down in Shavasana, you might go with that. You might sit up on your block, if you'd like to, for some support. If you have a blanket nearby. Just finding a comfortable position. And we'll sit together for about a minute or so here. And as you settle in, allow your inhale to inspire a quality of length through the heart, through the base of the skull. And your exhale. Invite this softening through the belly, through the hips, the pelvis, the legs. A few more moments to rest in this spaciousness through the body, mind, the heart. You might shift your weight ever so slightly towards the back body. Feeling that natural and a resiliency through the heart. And then joining the hands together at heart, bowing the head towards the heart. Namaste. Thank you.


Jenny S
1 person likes this.
So nice and relaxing, at the same time refreshing...and funky pigeon feels sooo good!
Alana Mitnick
Hi Jenny - So happy you're feeling relaxed and refreshed. Love that funky pigeon! Wishing you a wonderful day. xoA
Joan J
1 person likes this.
Alana you always seem to bring the practice I need. My legs and back have been so tight, the flossing was the stretch my legs and hips needed. LOVE the mermaid into pigeon, so gentle. Grateful for your guidance in Yin, I hope there are many more to come🌾🍃
Alana Mitnick
Hi Joan, I'm so happy to hear this. Yes, mermaid into pigeon is a sweet and gentle transition. Enjoy your practice. Love, Alana
Jay M
1 person likes this.
Talks way to much and kinda gets carried away and giddy
June S
1 person likes this.
Yoga has totally changed my life. I do it daily. My original goal was 3 times a week and a lot of the credit for that goes to you. Your instruction style is exactly right for me. Somehow you perfectly time “unclench the butt” or “relax the face” exactly when I’m doing those things! And my hips and shoulders are so much better then when I started. Question: Is there a way to modify stances where you bend the toes back? I’ve had bunion surgery on both big toes and although I can manage to do a downward dog it’s not the good kind of pain.
Alana Mitnick
Dear June, I am thrilled to hear from you! Thank you for sharing your experience of Yoga. Like you, I find consistency makes a huge difference in how I feel inside and how I respond to the world around me. Regarding your question, in general it's important not to push through pain, so modifying is the way to go! Can you give me a few examples of stances that irritate or trigger a pain response in your toes? For example, does it happens with curling or tucking the toes in cat/cow or a lunge? Sometimes adding extra padding or cushion to your mat can be useful (and second mat on top or adding a towel/blanket) under the feet. A substitute for downward dog could be a standing forward fold (with knees bent). You may have heard this referred to in sanskrit as "Uttanasana." This way your feet and toes are flat on the floor. Please keep me posted with any questions, comments, or insights that arise during your yoga practice. Warmly, Alana
June S
2 people like this.
Hi Alana, Curling the toes is not a problem. Doing cat/cow is. Also, the step back on a lunge. Doing a plank is almost impossible. Lastly, when we “rock back and forth and spring forward”. Ouch. Downward dog is only a slight problem because I can’t get my heals down yet. Anytime my foot is shaped like I’m in high heals there’s pain
Alana Mitnick
Hi June, A few modifications... for Plank, try keeping your knees on the mat (with the top of your feet/toes on the mat). For Lunge, experiment with Low Lunges, keeping the back knee down (and the top of the foot/toes on the mat). For Downward Dog, you might it at the WALL on with a chair. Here are a few examples:
Downward Dog 101
Lunge Salute with Chair
There are also many great practices on the site that are active, but do not include plank, down dog, and lunges. I suggest Yoga Rx with Patricia and Nathan: Yoga Rx
Please keep me posted, June. We are here fo
2 people like this.
nice way to relax/decompress in the p.m. after getting back into running in the a.m. thanks. :)
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