The Vinyasa Show Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 6

Powerful and Supple Hips

45 min - Practice


Building on principles explored in the core and foundational sequences, Alexandra invites us deep into our hips. We start supine to get an understanding of the rotation of the hip joints and offer ourselves to easy opening stretches. She then tempts us into a sensual flowing sequence to continue the exploration, find space, and develop strength. Alexandra demonstrates with blocks, so you do not have to be as liquid as Alex to enjoy the fun. You will feel sweet and surrendered.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block (2)

About This Video

Jul 06, 2015
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(waves lapping) So welcome. We will be working with hips today in this sequence. So if you've been watching the core and the foundation, then that will be good starters for working with this sequence. So we'll be starting on our back. Again, like we usually do.

I like starting this way. It's relaxing, and you know, it gets you centered. It gets you grounded. Literally you're all on the floor. (laughs) So soles of the feet to the earth, knees pointing up, softened in the face. Take a few breaths to arrive.

And gently, as you feel ready, start swaying your knees from side to side. Inhale on your lift. Exhale when you fall to the side, or actually when you're swaying to the side. It can feel nice to stretch your arms above your head. Stay soft on the shoulders, so bent elbows is nice.

So the hips are quite a major structure. There's a lot going on there. (chuckles) If you've ever heard that a lot of emotions are stored in our hips, it could be true. A lot of stress. So we need to oil up the hips a little. We need to get them working and soft.

Usually that's nice for the whole body and also for the mind. So come back to center. We're lifting our right leg up towards the sky, and start turning your foot like flamenco foot. And other side. Roll your toes.

Straighten your leg right up, slight outer rotation. And inner rotation. If you keep the knees slightly bent, the lift leg, it'll accentuate the rotations a little bit more. They become a little bit easier to do. So outer rotation means your toes are pointing out.

Inner rotation means your toes and your knee point inward, towards your midline. This is helpful for us, for the rest of the sequence, knowing what is what and how it feels, what feels most natural to you. So last time, outer rotation. Bend the knee and place your ankle onto your thigh, your upper thigh. And just a couple more like this 'cause now we're a different form.

We're in a different position. And just to remind ourselves, outer rotation, knee goes out, and the rotation starts from the hip joint. You could place your hand here just to feel it for yourself. Outer rotation. Internal rotation.

Okay, so one last time, out from here. Some of us like to just stay here. This is intense enough. Some of us will lift the left leg from the floor, the left foot from the floor, and grab a hold of the thigh. You're gonna take your right hand, tuck it in to the little hole that you just created, hug your thigh in, and to intensify it just a little bit more, if you want to, take your knee out, so a little bit more of an external rotation.

Okay so it doesn't necessarily, if you want to make it a little bit more intense, if you want to stretch a little bit more, it's not necessary to take your leg in closer to your heart. It can actually be the opposite that you need to do. Take the knee a little further away from you. Some of us like to take and grab the shin. Wobble a little.

Soften in the jaw. Maybe you remember that it is said that the sacrum around the hips is connected to the jaw. So if you soften in one area, maybe that helps the other. So from here, place the foot back to the floor. Reach your leg up towards the sky.

Bring your right leg down, your left leg in towards your heart. Hug it in like you're hugging a friend. Nice. Place the left foot down, right foot down. We're back where we started.

Lift the left foot up towards the floor. If you're not having a floor up there, then it's actually the roof. (laughs) I'm sorry. The words. So roll your foot in both directions. Roll your feet, which is a little harder actually.

Roll your toes I mean. Okay, so from here, bend the knee again, because it makes the movements a little easier. Outer rotation, or external rotation is the way to say it. And internal rotation. External rotation.

Internal rotation. And two more times like this. Notice where the movements starts. Notice where you're moving from. This helps.

Okay. So reach your leg up. Bend the knee. Place your ankle on the thigh. Do an external rotation here again.

Just feel the sensation in that, where it touches, where it stretches, where it's intense, where it's not. Yoga's about questioning. Internal rotation. Notice what releases. External rotation.

One more time like this. Internal. External. Now, some of you want to stay here. Some of you will lift the right foot from the floor.

I like to grab a hold of my shin, like I'm holding a friend. Notice what happens. Notice when you've gone too far. Usually it's when your eyes get hard or when your eyebrows are tucked into each other or where your jaw clutches. Wobble a little.

We're on our sacrum, rolling around. Okay. Place your foot to the floor. Reach your left leg out, bringing your right leg towards your heart, and gently pressing out with the left foot. Maybe wobbling a little.

Place your foot to the floor. Back where we started. Take a breath here. (exhaling) Exhale. So one more.

Actually, let's just play with the words. Receive your breath here. Release. (exhaling) So hug your knees in, and bring yourself up to sitting. I like to roll a little, up. See when it stops.

Good. Nice, and bring yourself up to all fours. Hands under your shoulders, spread your fingers wide, and as you do that, also let your fingers attract to each other. So from all fours, arch the back, heart lifting, maybe even gaze lifting. Just be gentle with your neck.

Exhale, round the back, tailbone pointing down, heart lifting up towards your shoulder blades, in between your shoulder blades. Inhale up. Exhale, up again, just rounding. Back to center, and roll. So we're working on the hips.

Can you get the feeling that you're moving from the hips? (exhaling) It's like a little dance going on. And as you do this, in the beginning, it feels a little mechanical, but after a while, again, if you let the body do what it wants to do, it's happy. Okay. And come back to center.

Settle in stillness. Tuck your toes in. We're lifting up to Dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana. Okay. So settle in to your Dog.

Bend one knee. The other heel goes down. Bend one knee, again changing. Just moving around a little. Again, rolling.

You know, doing what you need to do. Taking it for a little spin, a little ride. The hips are not to be rigid. I mean, they don't want to be rigid. Mm.

As the heart is not rigid. Okay, so from here I like to bring my big toes together. Maybe you prefer something else, but this is how I'm doing it today. Left leg all the way up. Exhale, nose to knee.

Inhale, all the way up. Knee to the outside of your left arm. All the way up. Knee to the outside of your right arm, and just for fun let's do it one more time. Inhale, all the way up.

Exhale, knee touches nose. Inhale, all the way up. Outside of your left arm. All the way up. Outside of the right arm.

All the way up. As we're coming in between the hands. So the knee's out towards your left wrist, foot out towards your right, and since we're very different in the hips, some of us will like to bring our foot down a little bit more, and some of us will keep our foot in 90 degrees, or the knee at 90 degrees. I'm gonna take my foot down just slightly. So from here, engage in towards the middle, like we did in core.

We draw in towards the middle. This will give you a little lift. See, no hands. And settle. So without falling, without collapsing, draw in towards the middle.

Find your stability. And... (exhales) Nice. Inhale, lift the heart. Hands towards the floor again. And lift all the way up.

Open the hip. So opening the hip like this is a really nice stretch. Heart pointing downwards. Bring your leg all the way to the front again. Foot in between your hands, back knee to the floor.

For this one, I'm gonna use blocks. If you don't have blocks, use books. Use your children's playing blocks. So whatever that is easy to move around that you can find stable, so you can get yourself lifted a little. It gives you a little bit more space, a little bit more freedom.

Inhale here. Exhale, bring your sit bones back, and bow. Inhale, bend the front knee. Exhale, straighten out, and bow. One more time.

Inhale. And stay. Okay, so bring your left hand to your side. Reach your right arm forward. Bring your shoulder back into place and lift the navel, lift the heart, maybe even lift your gaze.

Ah, and come all the way back. Gaze back. There's a foot over there. Lift it. Maybe you can reach it.

So, lift the heart. Bring your foot closer to your sit bone, if it's possible. Ah, and gently let go of the foot. Root down into the block with your right hand, or if the block is not needed, then you'll lift it away. Lift the back knee, and turn your navel up towards your heart.

Heart up towards the sky, and reach your left arm up towards the sky. Inhale here. Exhale, fold. Blocks go to the side. Lift up towards your Dog.

From your Dog, roll down to your plank, and do it one more time. So roll up, heart lifting, navel lifting. Bend the knees back to Dog. Lift up again to your plank. Place your knees if you need to.

Bend the arms. Come all the way down. So reach your arms back like you're smuggling them back. Lift the shoulders. Soften in the neck.

Lift the navel. Lift the heart. Lift the gaze. And... (exhaling) Inhale. (exhaling) Maybe with the legs lift up.

And fold. Hands under your shoulders, come all the way up. Tuck your toes in, lift up to your Dog. Let's do the other side. Inhale, right leg all the way up.

Exhale, knee to nose. Inhale up. Outside of your right arm. Inhale up. Bring your knee gently.

Left arm. Inhale up. One more time. Knee to nose. Inhale, reach up.

Exhale, outside of your right arm. Inhale up. Outside of your left arm. Inhale, up one last time. Bring your knee forward, out to your right wrist, foot pointing towards the left.

Come up on your fingertips so you can lift yourself up. I like to come up on my fingertips. Get yourself settled, and draw everything towards the midline, so you're drawing your front leg back, your back leg to the front. Engage in the core. Lift the pelvis, and settle.

Okay, so again, it does help to lift the hands off the floor if possible. And settle. One more time. So inhale. Hands to the floor.

Bring yourself up, all the way up with the right leg. Lift the knee up towards the sky and let your foot dangle over to the left side. Your heart is still pointing downwards. And bring your foot all the way to the front. Bring your blocks.

It just gives it a little bit more freedom. Place the back knee to the floor. Inhale, lift your heart. Exhale, stretch your front leg and bow. Again.

(deep breathing) Inhale, lift the heart, lift the navel towards the heart. Smile. (laughs) And bow. So the smiling is because it relaxes your face. Come all the way, bend your front knee. So place your left hand to the block.

Lift the back leg, and open, keeping yourself in your midline, in your center. And place your hand to the floor. Okay, so from here, place your right hand to the thigh, and lift your left arm to the front of the room. Take your shoulder back. Lift your navel.

Lift your heart. Lift your arm, gaze up if it feels appropriate for you. And place your hand back down onto your block. Gaze back from the right side. So you were gazing forward and you go left.

Look out and find your foot. Lift it and grab a hold of it with your right hand. So, this is called a universal pose because it's just doing so much at the same time, and we like that, don't we? So take a hold of the outside of your foot. Maybe take it in if it feels okay.

Just be gentle with the taking in. So you're still in control of what's going on. You're not collapsing. It's not about how deep we go. It's about what we're doing on our way there.

Lift the heart, and gently let go of the foot. Lift up the back knee. Root down into your left hand, and open up towards the sky. Exhale. Hands to the floor again.

Let's lift up to Dog. And once we've been in those hip-opening poses, it's nice to just roll around a little. Oiling up the hips again. Okay, so from here, roll to your plank pose. Inhale, lift.

Exhale, settle in your Dog. One last time. Inhale. Bend the elbows. Place your hips.

Bring your hands forward, and lift up into your back bend. Gently fold. One more time like this. Lift the navel. Lift the heart.

Shine your face. Exhale, fold. Take your hands back. Lift the shoulders, navel, heart, maybe even legs. And place everything to the ground again.

Bring yourself up to your Down Dog. Just stretch out, bend the knees, lift the sit bones high. Gaze forward. Take your right foot forward. Take your left foot forward.

Find yourself in Uttanasana. (deep sigh) So from Uttanasana, from this forward bend, we lift up, straighten the back. Some of us will have to bend the knees 'cause it feels nicer. Exhale, fold again. Now as you inhale and reach yourself forward again, take your feet a little more wider apart, like a little wider than hip width apart.

As you exhale, we'll be doing this a couple of times, so you'll get it. From here, bend the knees, arms forward. On an exhale, straighten up. Inhale here. Exhale, fold, straighten the legs.

One last time. Inhale here. Exhale, fold. Feet go closer again, hip width apart. Inhale, forward, bend the knees, bring yourself all the way up to standing.

Hands to your heart. Let your arms alongside the body and just... (exhaling) Arrive in this new moment. We've got a new passage waiting for us. So inhale, reach your arms, lift your left leg. Bend your standing leg.

Place the ankle on your thigh. This is what we did lying down. Lift your navel up towards the heart, and widen your arms so your shoulder blades just glide into their place, back behind your heart. Inhale. Reach up.

Exhale, take your left leg back, toes into the floor, heels lifting, or heel lifting. Inhale, lift the heart. Exhale, fold. Stretch out your front leg. For this it's nice to have blocks.

Navel lifting up, gaze forward. Exhale, fold. Now check the back heel, what it does, because as you lift, you can lift up on your toes, soften in your front knee. Exhale, fold. Reach your heel back.

One more time. Exhale. Okay. So from here, put away the blocks just for a moment. Turn over to your left side, toes pointing towards the long side of the mat.

Hands to your hips. Inhale, roll up. Okay. So heels in towards the midline, toes pointing out in the same direction as your knee. Lifting the pelvis just slightly, and letting your hip points draw in towards each other.

That will give you stability. Inhale, reach up. Keep your arms up. Exhale, flow to your side. Inhale, up.

Flow to your side, stretching the opposite leg 'cause that feels nice. And over to your side. Up. And let's go the other way. Inhale, exhale fold.

And you know you can do this in any way you please. I'm just doing it this way. Up. And down. One last time, let's come up.

Reach up. Hands to your hips. And fold. Let your neck release. Gently, just keep softening behind your knees, so you're not locking your knees.

Roll your shoulders back and up. Lift your navel. Lift your heart. Gaze forward. Okay, so we're taking the left foot out towards the side.

Sorry, the right one. No, the left one. (laughs) We're taking the left toes towards the short side of the mat. Inhale. Remember that Doug Keller swoosh out towards the space. We're taking our hand up, and bring it back.

Taking our hand up. And bring it back. One last time. All the way up. Come up to your Warrior II.

Stretch out your front leg. We're going to Triangle Pose. So from here, the hips want to tilt back. It's okay, just try to find your center. Soften in behind the front knee, and fold.

Now this would be a nice spot to have your block. I can reach all the way down, but for most of us, just, you know, imagine coming higher up. Would that feel nice? Inhale, lift the navel up towards your heart, heart up towards your chin. And back to Warrior II.

Straighten out the front leg. We're going back to where we started. Fold down. Hands to the floor. Reach up, get your spine long, side body long.

Soften in the neck. Turn your right foot towards the short side of the mat. Hands on each side of the foot, bring yourself to Dog. Okay, so other side. Lift your left leg up towards the sky.

Bring it all the way to the front, in between your hands. Remember how we did in the core sequence, we did this. We just hop up. Inhale, lift up. Bend the standing leg, and sit.

Okay, flex the foot, spread your toes. (exhaling) Okay, inhale, lift all the way up again. Take your time. Bring your arms back, foot back. Place the toes to the floor.

Get that feeling of (exhales) touchdown. Inhale, lift up. Again, the flamenco hands. Lifting the heart, root down into your foundation. Back hip, remember which one that was?

The that wants to roll out. Roll it in. Front hip is heavy. Exhale, fold. Again, if you like to have blocks on each side of the foot, then that will give you more space.

Fold. Inhale. Left side body long. Back heel lifts. Exhale, fold.

Inhale. Side body long, one last time. Exhale, fold. Okay. Now from here, turn your toes over to the right, and to see you, I will have to switch.

That's called a party switch. Now from here, hands to your hips, lift all the way up. And settle. (exhales) Soften, come back to your center. It's like... (exhales) Okay. So we're taking the right foot out towards the side.

Bend that knee. Inhale, lifting up to your Warrior II. Place your hand to your thigh, and lift the left arm up. You can place your hand to the floor if it feels appropriate. Coming all the way down.

Take off. All the way down. Take off. You know just because we're in a form doesn't mean we can't just move it around a little. We're coming back to it anyway.

All the way back. (exhaling) Nice. Bring yourself to your Warrior II. Reach out. So stretch out the leg. Just be gentle with the back side of the knee 'cause it has this tendency to overstretch, so keep this gentle, gentleness in the back of the knee.

From here reach all the way to the front, side body long, following with you. And reach your arm up. Some of us like to keep our hand to the hip. That will actually help you open up a little bit more. Maybe even gaze forward.

Lift the arm, bend the knee back to your Warrior II. Stretch out, toes pointing towards the front of the mat, hands to your hips. And fold forward. So I bend the knees when I fold forward because that's nicer for the back side of the legs. Come all the way up, inhale.

Turn yourself towards the front of the mat. Bring yourself to Dog. So from Dog, settle again. We're closing to the end. From here, roll down.

I like the rolling down. It's nice for the spine. Just roll to your plank pose, and from your plank pose, lift the heart up. It's like you're taking it vertebra by vertebra. Lifting up, soften in the neck.

(exhaling) One last time. Roll to your plank. Keep space between your shoulders and your ears. If you need to place your knees to the floor, I will need to place my knees to the floor. Do so.

If you want to make it a little more intense, you just lift the heels, lift the sides of your body. Okay. And bend gently. Before you come down place your hips down. Lift up into your gentle backbend.

Exhale, fold. Again. Inhale, lift, maybe even the legs. Exhale, fold. So for this last time, I'm gonna try to grab my feet, so lift up.

Yay. Exhale. And use the power in your feet to lift up the heart, so you're pressing your feet away, your hands are holding, soften in the face. And release. Nice, come all the way up back to Dog.

This is a nice lengthening of the spine and the side body once we've done that backbend. Okay. So gaze forward. We're taking our right leg forward, actually the right knee, out towards the right wrist. Place your foot and get yourself deep into your Eka Pada Rajakapotasana I.

I just love saying that. That's why I said it. (laughs) Which just means mermaid, I think. So we did this before with the strengthening. This time, just (exhale) ease into it. Maybe fold.

(deep sigh) Soften in the neck. Sway from side to side. It's like you're in this gentle rocking chair, just, (exhale) rocking your hips. Rocking your heart. Okay.

Now from here we're not going back to Down Dog. We're lifting up. Come over to your right sit bone gently, and swing your left leg forward. This can be done in different ways. I choose to do it this way, with one heel in front of my shin.

So lift the navel up towards your heart. Get yourself a little arch in the back, just a gentle arch. Feel how you're sitting onto your sit bones. Hug your knee with the right arm. Left fingertips behind you.

You can also use a block here if you want to. So you get a little bit more space, more to work in. From here lift the navel, lift the heart. Elongate your neck. Some of us like to gaze back.

And once you've done that, just close your eyes 'cause there's nothing to see. You're in your body. And for every inhale, rise. For every exhale, turn your heart. Now your hips are quite stable.

They're not moving anywhere. It's like you have the bottle and the cork. It's the cork moving and your hips are the top of the bottle. Okay. Now come all the way to the front again.

(deep sigh) Sit. We're gonna do the other side. Okay. So, we'll do it a little untraditionally and just swing your right leg back. If you'd rather go and do a Dog in between, go do a Dog.

It's different, what we like to do. I'm just experimenting with this variation. So from here, again, it could be nice to just engage, muscularly engage, to get the integrity to feel into your integrity. And then, (exhale) soften. Soften everything.

And start working your way to the front of the mat. Some of us place our forearms to the floor. I like my palms facing up. There's a little sense of surrender, which is also a meaning and a warming up and softening in the hips. There is a sort of surrender.

It's letting go. Letting go so you're open to receive. Soften in the neck and the shoulders. (exhale) Just imagine being all that soft in the hips. What would happen? What would you do?

Good, so from here, bring yourself up again. Swing your right leg forward, so you'll have to lean onto your let sit bone. Okay. Find your foundation. Find your anchoring into the sit bones.

From your sit bones rise up towards your heart. Soften in the neck. We hug the right leg with the left arm. Fingertips or block behind you, depending on what feels more appropriate for you. And again, keep the hips stable.

We don't want them rigid, but we want them stable. Lift the navel. The heart turns. The right shoulder blade is giving you an indication of where you're going, and the left follows. Maybe you gaze back.

Close your eyes. One more deepening breath. And exhale, come back to center. Okay, so just cross your legs. We're almost done.

Cross your leg. Sit. (exhale) Settle into the effect. Maybe you can feel vibration, warmth, heat, something going on in your hips, in your core. So for this variation of Constructive Rest Pose, or actually it's not Constructive Rest Pose, it's a variation of something called Viparita Karani. I'll show it to you.

I will use a block, but you maybe enjoy to just lie here. Maybe this is enough for you. Maybe you're just, you know, this is nice. And this is nice. This is Constructive Rest Pose.

Okay. But it's nice for the hips. It's nice for stability, woop, to place a block under the hips, under the sacrum. Okay. So I'm getting up into Bridge, sort of.

I'm not staying here. I'm placing my sacrum onto the block. You'll know it's right, well partly if it feels good, and because the sacrum is this bone, that you'll feel stable lying on. If it feels painful or if it feels like, no, this is not right for me, just remove the block. My experience is that if you have sensitive lower backs or tenderness, this is nice.

You get a feeling of elongating your spine. Notice the exhale. The exhale is freer. Yeah. Either you just lay here and enjoy, or you bring in your left leg, gently, straightening the right one.

We could straighten both legs, but for my particular body, for my anatomy, it doesn't really work that well, and it has to do with the arch in the back. So I'll do this. I get both the strengthening, the stability, and the stretching of psoas. Let's switch sides. Right leg in, or right knee in.

A little activity in your toes and your foot on the straight leg. I find that I do that all the time. Place your foot back to the floor. Take just a few more breaths like this, a few more seconds. (deep breathing) Soften around your hips.

Soften on the outside of your hips, your outer hips, your outer thighs, down towards your heels. Okay. So now releasing from the block, come up on your toes. Lift very gently. You're just lifting slightly enough to remove the block.

And roll back down on your back, onto your spine, and notice the effect. Notice the effect. Breathe in to it. Let your body settle. So from here, reach out your legs.

Place your legs at a comfortable distance from each other. Let your feet roll out. Mm. Let the back of your heart melt into the earth as your hips melt into the earth. (deep exhale) Inhaling through the nose.

Exhaling through the mouth. (deep exhale) Notice what releases, what you let go of, that you let go of. (deep exhale) And as you feel ready to move again, probably the smart thing is to just lay here for a while because it's nice. When you feel like you need to move, I like to roll onto my side, so I could like bring up my feet. Very gently roll one side to another, and choose a side you want to come up on. Roll over to your side.

Stay there for a moment. And then bring yourself very gently up to sitting. (deep exhale) Elongate your spine. (speaking in foreign language) Heart blossom. Love.


Johanna L
1 person likes this.
I feel free inside after this, thank you for guiding me!
Alexandra Kambler
Such a pleasure dear one!
Judy F
1 person likes this.
Great hip opener for this runner/yoga instructor. Thank you ????
Kate M
PS Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana means:
One legged king pigeon pose
; ]
Ariella K
1 person likes this.
Lovely class. Thank you. This made my evening.
Beautiful. My hips feel amazing.
Sandra Židan
Beautiful practice, Alexandra! I feel very relaxed after doing it! Kind regards! 💖

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