Hips, Hamstrings, Balance, Quads
This yoga sequence focuses on opening hips from multiple angles, so that next time you're hip flexing, you can also be hip and flexin'. We end with a fun balance in Eight Angle Pose (Astavakrasana).
Low Lunge on Fingertips (Anjaneyasana Variation)
From a Foreword Fold, step one foot to the back of the mat. Remaining on the ball of the back foot with the heel lifted, and ground firmly through the ball and heel of the front foot. Allow your fingertips to brush the ground, as you reach through the crown of the head to create length in the spine. Pull the navel in towards the spine to create space between the thigh and the belly. Feel one long, straight energetic line from heel to head.
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
From Low Lunge on Fingertips, drop the back knee to the ground. Bring your attention to the core, which should remain engaged with the ribs knit inwards and the navel pulled in. Internally rotate the arms so the palms face the back of the room as they lift overhead. From here, work to sink the hips down and forward simultaneously.
From Low Lunge, begin to straighten the front leg as your hips move back in space. Sweep the arms down and back so that they reach behind you with the palms facing upwards. Create lengthen in the spine and reach the head towards the toes without excessively rounding into the back. Press the front heel actively into the mat as you fold.
Half Split with Arms Back (Ardha Hanumanasana Variation)
High Crescent Lunge
From Half Split, bend back into the front leg and lift the back knee off the ground as the arms internally rotate and reach upwards overhead. Engage into the back quadricep to straighten the leg and sit the hips down as the front knee bends towards 90-degrees. Pull the navel in and find a slight posterior pelvic tilt (tailbone tucking under) to minimize the arch in the low back.
Extended Side Angle with Arms Overhead (Utthita Parsvakonasana Variation)
From High Crescent Lunge, rotate the body so that the chest is facing the side of the mat (this should be the same side as whichever leg is extended back). Simultaneously, rotate the back heel down so that the foot is parallel to the back of the mat. Then, with an engaged core and the arms still overhead, begin to lean the upper body forwards over the bent knee.
Half Squat with Toe Stand (Skandasana Variation)
From Extended Side Angle, straighten the front leg as you bend into the back leg, sitting the hips towards the heel. Simultaneously, bring your hands to heart center and rise up onto the ball of your back foot. Sit back to balance on the back heel, as you ground down through the front heel. Alternatively, if you have any knee pain or would like a deeper hip opener, sink the back heel down to the ground with the hips sinking down beside it, as if the back half of your body is in a yogic squat.
Twisted Lizard Lunge (Parivrtta Utthan Pristhasana)
From Skandasana, shift the weight forward to return to Low Lunge on Fingertips. Drop the back knee down, then heel-toe the front foot towards the outside of the mat. Come onto the outside edge of the front foot as the front knee moves outwards and the hips sink down and forward. Bend the back knee so that the foot lifts upwards, then reach around with the opposite hand and grab the lifted foot. Plant the front fingertips firmly to leverage the twist in your mid-back.
Folded Leg Forward Bend (Triang Mukha Eka Pada Pashimottanasana)
From Twisted Lizard Lunge, release the back leg and untwist the body to return towards your Low Lunge. Sit the hips all the way back to the floor as you straighten the front leg. The back leg remains folded under with the heel near the seat. Try to avoid splaying outwards with the bent knee. More importantly, assure that the foot is always pointing in the same direction as the knee to avoid injury.
Seated Leg Cradle (Hindolasana)
Shift your weight to the side, to release the tucked leg. Lift the previously tucked knee in towards the chest, then externally rotate to come towards a Figure-4 position. Use the arms to pull the foot of the bent leg into the elbow crease of the opposite arm. Then wrap the free arm around the bent knee so that the hands clasp in front of the shin. Feel free to gently sway the body from side to loosen into your hip abductors.
Eight Angle Pose (Astavakrasana)
Release the leg, then guide it over the upper arm or shoulder. Clamp down with the leg to hold it in place. Plant the hands shoulder width apart on the mat, then reach the opposite leg across the body so that the ankles cross and the feet clasp. Press into the hands and shift the seat back while the upper body comes forward. The arms will automatically bend towards 90-degrees. Gently push through the heels to straighten the legs as you lift your hips. Engage your inner thighs together. Actively press down with the chest and shoulders while maintaining an engaged core and lower body.