Home practice with Margherita Dal Pra – Open the hips
A sweet sequence for you to open the hips to practice at home at any time
The following sequence is specific to limber your hips. One of the main objective pursued by yogis and yoginis — there are only few exceptions in the west of people with natural opened hips. Whether you are practicing standing or seated poses hips play a major role.
But beyond the pure physical aspect, working on the opening of the hips, affects more subtle and inner aspects. Of the 5 elements that our body is made up, water correspond to the hips (earth the legs, fire the stomach, air the chest, ether the head). Therefore loosening the blockages in the pelvis favours the free flow of the fluids in the body. Furthermore, you bring more balance in the vital energy flow; particularly apana, the energy that moves down from pelvis to feet and helps us grounding, and prana which is pervasive in the whole body and favour the elevation. This balance will reflect in our inner state as a sense of profound calm and awareness of the present moment and clarity of the future. The pelvis is like a portal of access of our essence, and the place of the source of life.
With feet hip distance apart, fold forward. Bend your knees a couple of inches. Place your hands on the fleshy part of our outer calves, and hugging the shins to the middle line and drawing energy from the feet to the focal point of the pelvis, press with your hands the shins towards one another whilst you are trying to push your inner thighs out. Inhale draw inner thighs back, and then exhale draw the coccyx down. then inhale extend the legs.
RUNNERS LUNGE (variation)
from Uttanasana walk your right leg back, keep left knee 90° angle on top of the ankle. Walk your hands on the inside edge of the front foot. Inhale and activate the muscles of the legs by drawing the feet towards one another without moving them (isometric action). with your next inhale whist you are rotating the inner seam of the back leg towards the sky, scoop your tailbone, bend your elbows to the side, and lower the heart towards the floor, maintaing and openness in the shoulders. bottom tips of the shoulder blades press the chest forward. repeat the same with the other leg.
UTTHITA PARSVAKONASANA (Extended Side Angle pose)
From Adho Mukha Svanasana walk the right food forward between the hands, knee on top of the ankle. Draw energy from the feet to the pelvis and draw the inner groins back. Keep that, scoop the tailbone, and finally extend the energy from the pelvis to the feet and turn the torso towards the sky from the naval to the head. Lastly extend your left arm over head — bicep at the side of the ear.
UTTHITA TRIKONASANA (Extended Triangle pose)
From Adho Mukha Svanasana walk the right food forward between the hands. Spin the back heel to the floor. Keep the right hand to the ground (use a block under the hand to raise the floor if you can’t reach that far), and the left hand to the hip. Inhale and draw the feet isometrically towards one another and draw the inner groins back expanding the inner left groin towards the sky. Exhaling, scoop the tailbone towards the floor, grounding the left leg towards the floor, rotate the torso towards the left elongating the side body up towards the clavicles. Lastly extend the left arm towards the sky. Repeat the same with the other leg.
ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA (Downward Facing Dog variation)
From the lunge go back to Downward Faging Dog, with wrists as wide as your shoulders and the feet as wide as your sitting bones. Inhale and raise the right leg to the sky and extend it to the back. Open the leg and the hip to the right, bend the knee, exhale and lower the right foot towards the left. Keep the armpits buoyant especially the left. Return to Downward Facing Dog and repeat the other leg.
HANUMANASANA (Monkey God pose variation)
From Adho Mukha Svanasana walk the right foot forward between the hands. Hips on top of the left knee. Straighten the right leg pointing the foot to the sky. Keep the back foot flexed. Activate the muscles of the legs by drawing isometrically the feet towards one another. Inhale, and lengthen the sides of the waist and exhale lengthen the tailbone towards the floor and fold forward towards the right shin. Through Adho Mukha Svanasana repeat the position with the other leg.
EKA PADA RAJAKAPOTASANA II (King Pigeon pose II)
From Adho Mukha Svanasana walk the right foot forward between the hands. Lift the back foot and turn the torso to the right, keeping the hips squared. Grab the back foot with the right hand, inhale, activate the muscles of the legs and lengthen the side body. with the next exhale lengthen the tailbone and draw the foot closer to the hips, whilst you are opening the chest to the sky, shoulder blades pressing into the back. Repeat the other side.
EKA PADA RAJAKAPOTASANA I (King Pigeon pose I)
From Adho Mukha Svanasana lower down onto your knees and take the right foot toward the left hand and the knee to the right. Lengthen the left leg back. With squared hips, inhale, press the outer edge of the right foot on the ground and draw the knees isometrically towards one another,lengthening the torso (if the hip is tight then the right foot can be pointed towards the left groin, the toenails will press on the ground firmly). Exhale, maintaining the tone in the legs, widen the inner hips away from the midline, lengthen the tailbone towards the floor. allow the hips to descend and fold forward. (this can be done with thigh stretch as in picture or back leg straight). Repeat the other side.
JANU SIRSASANA (head to knee pose)
Sit with your legs extended forward. Take right foot toward the groin with the knee 90° . Keep the left foot pointing up rotate the inner heel and inner leg towards the floor. Inhale and rotate the torso towards the straight leg. With the right hand grab the outer left foot (or shin or knee), exhale and fold towards the leg. Lift the belly as you lengthen the tailbone. (the picture below is a prep for the full pose described here)
ROCK THE BABY
Sit with the left foot to the left hip. Use the hands to open the ischium (sit bones) back and apart. With both hands grab hold of the tibia of the right leg, and keeping the toes super active and open, draw it towards you, keep the torso lifted and shoulders up and back. Finally if it serves you take the foot into the crook of the opposite elbow, hugging the shin like it was a baby and lifting it up towards you. Repeat the other side.
Sit in a cross legged position, if the knees are too high then sit on a block or a cushion. Close your eyes and draw your attention to the breath, and set an intention for your practice. Chant an invocation or mentally chant OM 3 times.
WARM UP with some cat and cow poses (all 4s inhale head and tail to the sky, exhale reverse the curve) repeating the same few times. Followed by a couple of Sun Salute, synchronised to a nice deep ujjay breathing.
DURING POSTURES: besides execute the poses and the actions through the breath, I recommend the application of some principles of alignment.
The first is to recognise the “Universal Breath” that connects us all and being humble to your breath.
Then maintaining the tone in the feet and legs, draw muscle energy towards the centre of the pelvis, and squeeze the shins towards the midline of your body; Maintaining these actions and using the inner muscles of the legs (adductors), draw the groins back and widen isometrically the thighs away from the midline. The pelvis will be nice and wide giving space for the tailbone to lengthen towards the floor. And then from your core, you can extend back towards the feet and to the crown and the whole periphery.
Maintaining these alignments and actions in every pose, hold the each pose for 5 to 10 ujjay complete breaths.
You can link the poses going through Adho Mukha or execute them singularly.
At the end sit in cross legs recognising and honouring your practice and its benefits and its application off the mat, for instance how would affect your life off the mat just by simply being grounded?
RELAX in Savasana for 5 to 10 minutes.
Apologies for the drawing (not a Picasso eh?!) I am waiting for some pictures to be posted! Om Namah Shivaya <3