Grounded Joy Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 8

Advanced Hip Opening and Folds

40 min - Practice


Find refuge in each forward fold. Lydia guides us through a seated forward fold sequence, beginning with Surya Namaskar A & B (Sun Salutations) to warm the body, before moving to the ground. This "restorative" practice slowly builds towards more advanced and unusual hip openers, such as Mulabandhasana (Root Lock Pose), Kandasana (Upward Ankle Twist Pose), and Eka Pada Sirsasana (Foot-behind-the-Head Pose).
What You'll Need: Mat

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(waves crashing) Welcome. This is a forward fold practice and in a way, it's kind of restorative because I'm gonna give two options of doing it. One, the ability to vinyasa and sort of keep the heat in between each posture and the other one, to simply lie down and roll back up for the next posture. It's sort of like advanced restorative and that's kind of a funny thing to say because advanced, I mean that could just mean advanced awareness. Like you could be doing the most simple thing and it would be advanced if you honed your awareness like that.

The advancement I'm talking about is that it might take a certain amount of advancement in practice to be able to have hips that are open enough to get into some of these postures. So let's come up to standing. You may want a blanket for this practice. So feet together at the top of the mat, hands at the heart. Breath into the back of your body.

Feel that from the pelvis down, there's a dropping into the earth and from the center of the pelvic floor up through the front of the spine through the crown of the head there's sort of a movement towards the sky. Ground yourself in the breath. Exhale the arms down. Inhale, slide the arms up. Exhale, release them down.

Inhale, slide them up. Exhale, release them down. Surya Namaskara A, inhale. Exhale, fold. Lengthen.

Dog pose. Roll towards the plank pose. Slide the shoulder blades away from the ears. Tip forwards onto the toes, chaturanga. Knees down, tops of the feet down, knee upward dog.

Roll back, spinal roll, roll low back, open mid back, upper back, slide hands in a little bit. Shift into the hands and the feet, downward dog. Exhale. Empower your limbs and stretch and relax your spine. Step forwards.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale, come up. Exhale. Surya Namaskara B, move katasana.

Sink your hips back. Slide your hands up, come up and over your hip joints, exhale. Inhale, find your straight spine. Dog pose, step, hop or float. Inhale, plank pose.

Exhale, chaturanga, elbows in. Wide collar bones, soft armpits, upward dog. Downward dog. Feet together back of the mat, right leg up. Let it open.

Scoop it forwards, curl the body, shoulders over the wrists, plant. Back foot on an angle, inhale, Virabhadrasana one. Exhale, downward dog. Inhale, plank pose. Chaturanga, exhale, upward dog.

Downward dog. Feet together, left leg up. Let it open, be free with that leg. Scoop it forwards, curl. Shoulders over the wrists, plant the back foot.

Inhale, Virabhadrasana one. Long back. Neutral spine, exhale. Downward dog. Use your breath to support you into the plank pose.

Belly leans into the back body, exhale chaturanga. Upward dog. Downward dog. Breath. Relax but empower at the same time.

Simultaneous Sthira and Sukha, strength, steadiness and softness, ease. Bend your knees and hop through to a seated position. So you could step forwards, I'll show you a couple of options actually. So you can step one leg forwards kind of into like a pigeon and swing the other leg around to end up in dandasana, option number one. From here you could also hop your hips high, cross your ankles in the air and land on the tops of the feet, hips down, option number two and you can try these with me as well.

Back or you can hop your hips high enough that you can keep your legs straight-ish and sweep them through. There's a bit of this movement, strong movement, strong in the outer armpits to come into dandasana. So come into dandasana, widen your sit bones. Take your hands one over the other over your chest. Draw your sternum down, lift the crown up.

As you draw down, feel the space in between your shoulder blades open. As you reach up, feel the whole spine getting more length, more spaciousness in between the disks. If any of these postures you need a blanket underneath, go for it. Get a blanket so you're more perpendicular to the floor. Lean forwards with your crane line, so as straight as you can here.

When you hit that straight line and you feel like you can't go any further, hands to the side, hands to the ankles, hands to the outer feet, exhale fold. Paschimottanasana. So forwards instead of down. My teacher Richard Freeman always told me that and it always stays in my head, down is just a little bit more stress and a rounding of the spine. Forwards is the length, the decompression and a sense of opening up the fibers of the legs.

Three, breathing. Radiant, big breaths. That's about five breaths, we'll inhale and come up. I'll show you a couple of options here, so you can either roll right onto your back, let your legs come up for a few breaths like Viparita Karani and then roll back up and join us for the next position. Or you can cross your ankles, have a little bit of a strength in the outer feet, lift your hips and hop back chaturanga, upward dog.

Downward dog or you can cross your ankles, bring your knees quite close in. Place you hands just in front of your hips and you're gonna roll forwards and it's a teeter-totter action. As you roll forwards, your shins will sweep very close into you. You'll roll forwards enough that your head comes closer to the ground and your bum will lift up enough so that there's air space to shoot your legs back like this. Inhale, upward facing.

Exhale, downward facing. Hop through to seated or step. Janu Sirsasana A, left leg extends, right leg comes in, inner line of the leg opens. You can prop yourself up if you want. Pull your left hip back, so we'll twist here.

Take the right arm across, left arm back twisting towards the straight leg. Spiral your belly around. Widen your back muscles and breath. Unwind to the front. Right kidney sweeps towards the inner left thigh, Janu Sirsasana A.

Forwards instead of down. Outer hips drop, the belly lengthens. Inhale and come up, we'll switch sides. Right leg forwards, left leg comes in. Pull the hip back, twist.

A few breaths here. Spin the belly, widen the back muscles. Let the collarbones roll open. Unwind a little bit, left kidney towards the inner right thigh. Soften your eyes.

Forwards instead of down. Inhale, come up. Exhale, release. Inhale, lift. Exhale, chaturanga.

Inhale, upward dog. Exhale, downward dog. Inhale, come through. Left leg reaches long, right leg comes in, half-bound lotus. From the hip rotate the hip open, seal the knee joint, calf and hamstring come together.

Take ahold of the outer foot, put it on the upper thigh. So you can either fall forwards like this or make a sweeping movement towards your right knee, see if you can clasp the foot. Roll back to the center, crane line lengthening. When you hit your edge of straight, fold a little bit. Breath.

Finding refuge in each forward fold, you might close your eyes. Forward folds are used in yoga therapy as grounders calming the nervous system. Slowing down and being a bit more introspective, looking inwards. They're the introverts of the yoga asanas. Inhale, come up release, switch sides.

From the hip rotate, seal the calf and hamstring together. Outer foot comes towards the upper thigh. Make a movement towards the knee to bind. Spin the left kidney towards the inner right leg. Forwards before down.

If you come down, it's nice to take your chin down because there's the craniosacral connection that lengthens the lower back a little bit more. Inhale, come up. So I'll show this one this time. Either you vinyasa exhale, inhale lift or you roll down and let your legs come up. So you can choose which way you want to do this depending on how you feel today and then come right on up and we'll meet together here.

Left leg straight, right leg comes in and the top of the foot comes onto the floor and take your fingertips to the floor and just shift your hips so that both sit bones are down. If they're not, put something underneath your seat. The top of the foot is on the floor, right foot, all five toes touch. Pubic bone sweeps back, crane lines lengthen and then you can take the foot to the outsides of the mat and fold forwards. Allow a little bit of a curl to happen but start the curl above the sacrum if you can and breath.

Each inhale, you might feel that you elongate. Inhale, come up. Stay in this position, bring your left leg in. Take the knee out to the side. Clasp ahold of the foot, bring the knee in line with the hip and start to lengthen this leg up for Krounchasana.

If it's possible, clasp your right wrist and if it's still possible without rounding your back excessively, bring the leg towards you, bring your chin towards the leg. Soften and widen the base of your shoulders. Squeeze your sit bones together. Switch sides, exhale release. Lean over to your left.

Take your leg out, switch sides. Top of the foot on the floor, suck the ankle inwards, reground your sit bones. Pubic bone back, the sacrum moves in to the back of the pelvis. Fold. Long spine, long belly, open back.

Radiant breath. Inhale, come up. Take the knee out to side. Externally rotate, clasp the foot. Bring the knee in line with the hip joint.

Either stay here or start to lengthen up. Clasp your left wrist. Stay long which is nice to tip the head back, it's another variation or if it's possible with the super long belly that you can establish here almost in a little back bend, fold forwards, chin towards the shin. Squeeze the sit bones together. Soften the shoulders.

Inhale lengthen, exhale release. So I'll show another vinyasa, release your leg here. Wiggle your toes, cross. Inhale lift, exhale lower. Upward facing, downward facing.

Come through. Left leg extends forwards, right leg come into a half-squat about two fist's distances away from the left inner thigh. Feel that you could really just stand on that leg, so shift forwards quite a bit here. If you can bring your arm on the inside of the leg, the knee squeezes into the body. First option, take your fingertips out to the side, elbows wide.

Second option, internally rotate your right hand so the palm faces behind you. See if it's possible to find a clasp behind your back. Marichyasana A. Pubic bone moves towards the tailbone, tailbone moves towards the earth, fold forwards. Your right sit bone will probably be lifted here, it's fine.

Breath. It feels as if you're standing on that right foot so you're well grounded as you tip forwards. Inhale and come up, switch sides, right leg forwards. Left leg come in two fist distances away. Let the knee come out to the side a little bit, sweep the arm forwards so you're really reaching the belly down.

Then hug the knee in, see if you can fuse that back of the arm with the shin or internally rotate and bind. Left sit bone might be a little bit off but root it down as you press into the left foot and fold. Forwards instead of down. Inhale, come up. Exhale and release.

Either on your back or vinyasa, cross the shins, sweep them in, inhale lift. Exhale lower, inhale upward dog. Exhale, downward dog. Come through. So I'm gonna turn around and show you this way Upavishtha Konasana, our legs wide on the mat.

They don't really have to be wider than 90 degrees. Roll the inner thigh in, the outer thigh back. Fingertips behind, straight spine. The sacrum moves in. If you feel like that's happening, you're rolling onto the frontal edges of the sit bones, Slide your hands down your legs and start to fold forwards.

Even though your inner thigh might be rolling down towards the floor here to get that tip, to tip your pelvis forwards, once you come into it like this, see if you can roll the outer thigh down and ground the outer buttock. You can come as low as you like. For some it's okay to come right down. If you're doing that, lengthen your belly. Inhale, come up and exhale, release.

So you can vinyasa here or I'm gonna show just rolling down and draining your legs. Or vinyasa upward dog, downward dog and come up. This one again I'm gonna show you this way, it's called Vamadevasana. So left leg comes like this, right leg comes like this. So internal rotation right leg, left leg, external rotation.

Right hips is moving down. We're gonna bring this left leg in almost like it's going into a half-lotus like that and then we're gonna roll a little bit towards the knee joint and bring that right leg in like this like it's going into Virasana kind of. This is like Ardha Bada Padmasana. This is like Virasana, Hero's Pose. Right hip is gonna be off and I like to do this posture hooking my elbow around this foot and then seeing if I can bring that right hip down.

The full posture is actually bringing the arches of the feet together but I don't like it that way as much. Let's release and try the other side. It's a nice twist in the lumbar as well. So external rotation, internal rotation. Like half-bound lotus, like virasana, we're a little bit more onto the front edge of the kneecap.

Hook. See if you can lengthen this left side that tends to get a little bit short. You could also hire yourself up on a block on the right hip and it might give you more space in the front of the left hip. You could try taking the arches of the feet together. It's a little bit more of a strong feeling.

Then exhale, release. Vinyasa or lie on your back. I'll show vinyasa, across. I'll do the opposite cross the awkward way, inhale lift. Exhale lower, upward dog.

Downward dog. Come through. So I'm gonna show you this one this way again, yoga dandasana. So left leg goes into like a Hero's Pose and then the right leg comes back like this and the idea is to get the right leg, the right foot, the outer right foot into the outer right armpit. But to start, let's just take our left hand behind and start to take the right knee towards the floor.

You can see that my groin area is kind of opening up here, so I want to kind of zip it together a little bit so the inner thighs come in towards each other a little bit. This is quite a curled position, so just lengthen your spine. So if you feel like that's a pretty nice place to hang out, you can stay here for a few breaths or you could try holding on with your left hand, seeing if you can bring that foot in the outer armpit. Internally rotating this arm, taking it behind the shinbone and dropping that knee to the floor, interlocking the hands. If this shoulder's quite rolled forwards, take a little bit of effort into rolling it back, the shoulder blade down the back.

This posture is often done like this as well which is a little bit easier in the hips for some. Unwind, let's try the other side. Rotate that leg a little bit. What were these yogis thinking when they made these things up? So right leg in virasana, left leg comes back.

It's interesting to see where your body will go, though. Zipping up the inner groins and then kind of opening them but keeping that feeling of continuing to zip up and open. If you feel like there's that opening and you want to try to suck the right ankle in, the right hip's probably gonna come up, it's okay. See if you can get into the outer armpit. So even like this position is interesting.

Make sure that shoulder moves back so you have spaciousness in the armpit. If you can internally rotate and take that arm behind, the top of the thigh can come towards the floor a little bit and you can see this hip is a little lifted, I'm gonna try to drop it down a bit and like I said you can also try it like this. (chuckles) So let's unwind. Vinyasa or lie down on your back. Then come through.

Baddha Konasana, soles of the feet together. Heels lean in towards each other, inner thighs open, knees wide. Roll the pubic bone towards the tailbone. Sacrum in, as the tailbone drops down, fold forwards. Try to slide your navel into the arches of your feet.

You can use your elbows if they reach your inner thighs for a little bit of downward pressure but don't force. Inhale and come up. I'm gonna show you this way again. We're gonna stay here and try a couple of more advanced hip openers. First one, Mulabandhasana.

Second one, Kandasana. So what we're gonna do is take the toes to the floor. Use your fingertips and sometimes, I'll show you with a blanket too, it's nice to sit up on something in this one or a block. So I'm gonna come up like this, see if I can snuggle the inner feet, inner heels together like that and just this, I can hang out here for a little bit tipped side to side and I'm gonna see if I can kinda feel the inner thigh moving down towards the floor so my bum comes a little bit closer to the floor and I'm gonna take a blanket here and sit down on it. Scoop my hands underneath here and drop my knees towards the floor.

This is a really nice Achilles opening and a very deep opening of the inner thighs. So if you feel you have it there, you can take your hands on your knees like this. Try not to overly flex your spine and let's release the legs and come forwards with them. So just roll your ankles a little bit and roll your hips. Sit on the edge of the blanket or sit up on it and we'll work with Kandasana.

That was a deep external rotation. This one is a little bit, in fact that's actually a little bit more of an internal rotation. It's external rotation in the hip and then internal rotation to get the inner legs down. This one is really an external rotation of the outer leg more like a lotus position. So we're going to actually allow the foot to sickle here and bring it in towards the sternum.

So we'll do it one at a time. So one, so it's an external rotation and then in and then if it's possible, both at the same time. Outer feet touch, bringing them in. This posture is often done like this but I kind of like hooking the forearms around because I feel like I'm not pulling so hard with my arms to get that same feeling of drawing the legs in and release. Vinyasa.

Upward dog, downward dog. So the last posture we'll look at here, leg behind the head. Left leg extends forwards, right leg externally rotates and it's almost that same thing we just did in Kandasana, that external rotation. It's okay to sickle the ankle a little bit here just to have a little bit of energy through the inner heel. So that external rotation position, hold onto your outer foot, bring it up towards your face and lengthen.

If that feels okay, the play here is to take the leg as high up, far up on the outer arm as possible like that and pause. If that feels okay, the movement is to start to take the foot behind the head and kind of look to the foot. Kind of roll the neck so that now the neck is holding the leg behind the head, the shin behind the head and sometimes I like to hold onto my outer right arm and just move my shoulder forwards and then back and the shoulder as you do that forward, like a twisting forwards movement and back, it's holding the leg there so if you can, get the leg a little lower. It's no longer so much on the neck as it is behind the shoulder. Let's switch sides.

I should mention that is an extreme flexion position in the spine, so lengthening up is very important and bringing the spine pieces into the skin, into the body. Let's try the other side. So that external rotation like we did in Kandasana. A little bit of energy in the inner heel. Take it back as far as you can so that it comes onto the outer shoulder and resist the extreme flexion that's happening.

See if you can move it back and do this sweeping movement with your neck. So the neck kind of sweeps and then it supports, the back of the neck comes into the shinbone and then I do this movement. Hold on, bring the shoulder forwards, do a little twist and then move the leg more so that it's behind my shoulder and then I'm gonna bring the spine pieces in to the skin instead of giving in to that strong flexion. So any time you go too far in one direction, you become a fundamentalist and then everything screws up. So if you're in a curled position, give a little bit of a back bend, a little bit of its opposite, pour a little bit of its opposite in and everything comes into alignment.

Let's release. The last vinyasa or just roll onto your back. Inhale, upward dog. Exhale, downward dog. Child's Pose.

It's so curious for me. Even though there's maybe those strong vinyasas in there, this sequence, this forward folding practice feels restorative for me. I don't know if it's the same for you but if you try a full back bend practice and then try a full forward fold practice and just notice how you feel. Let's come onto our back. I would recommend putting a blanket over top of you for Shavasana because not only the warmth but that extra weight is grounding, more grounding, super grounding, let's just get six feet under.

It's time to die. So this is like the great letting go. Shava means corpse. Shavasana means Corpse Pose or connection to the earth. Close your eyes.

I often think about this. One of my dear teachers, Richard Freeman once said in a course I was taking with him, "When you come into this posture, "when you come into this great letting go, "actually imagine saying goodbye to "someone that you dearly, dearly love." And I was shocked and then I did it and actually really say goodbye like you would never see them again and it's amazing when you meet them again, what might happen. Allow yourself to be filled with gratitude. You might want to stay here for a little longer and I invite you to do that. But if you feel ready, make your own movements and take your time to come up.

Thank you. Namaste.


Margi Young
1 person likes this.
beautiful and clear. thank you!
Lydia Zamorano
Thanks for practicing with me.
I love hearing your thoughts and kindness!
Kate M
1 person likes this.
So lovely. I hear Richard through you. (He is my teacher's teacher; Marcia Solomon is my teacher, and I've also been blessed to participate in some intensives with Richard.) Thank you!
Lydia Zamorano
Hi Kate.
So glad we share that. Big hug!
Danielle P
Super restorative! Love this class! Thank you!
Lydia Zamorano
Danielle Happy you felt relaxed! Much love!

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