When I first started going to yoga classes with my mom back in high school, she always embarrassed me by asking the instructor, “Please! Can we do a few moves for my aching hips?” Now that I’m a member of the deskwork club, I totally understand where she was coming from (sitting all day does not make for happy hip flexors). Clearly, Alicia Ferguson, co-founder of Brooklyn Yoga Club, feels the same way. On this week’s installment of Well+Good’s Trainer of the Month Club, she teaches a “juicy, delectable, hip-opening flow.”
Yoga has thousands of “delectable” poses, but the ones that unwind tight hips are perhaps the most useful for anyone who spends a lot of time sitting, running, or cycling. For this 25-minute vinyasa, you’ll need your mat and maybe a couple of blocks to get in on the goodness. Let’s flow, everyone.
25 minutes of yoga for hip opening (ahem, bliss) right this way
1. Supta Baddha Konasana (reclined cobbler’s pose): Lie down on your back and bring the soles of your feet to touch so that your legs form a diamond shape. If your hips feel tight and despondent in this shape, slide a block under each knee. Bring one hand to your heart and one hand to your belly. Take a moment to connect with your breath and just be with Y-O-U.
2. Pavanamuktasana (wind-relieving pose): Extend both of your legs out straight and hug your right knee into your chest using both arms. Release your left palm to your left hip and begin circling out your right hip, using your hand as a guide. “Almost imagine your leg is a spoon and you’re stirring a cup of coffee, a cup of tea, or whatever your beverage of choice is,” says Ferguson. Make sure you do this movement both clockwise and counterclockwise.
3. Supta Matsyendrasana (reclined twist): Use your left hand to guide your right knee over to the left side. See if you can plant both shoulder blades onto the floor and stretch your right arm out to the side.
4. Supta Padangusthasana (reclined nose to knee pose): Bring your right leg back to center and gently clasp your hands behind your right hamstring. With the leg bent or straight, slowly pull the hamstring closer to your chest, feeling the stretch up and down the back of your leg. If it feels comfortable for you, inch your arm slowly up your right leg until your peace fingers can grab your right toes.
5. Supta Padangusthasana II (reclined nose to knee pose II): Without throwing your hips out of alignment, drop your extended leg over to your right side. (You can absolutely keep your knee bent here.) As soon as your left hip starts to lift up, you’ve gone too far.
Repeat poses two through five on the left leg.
6. Parsva Balasana (thread the needle pose): From all-fours, thread your right arm under your torso, placing your right ear on the ground if that feels accessible. Come back to center and do the same thing on the left side.
7. Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward dog): Press into your hands and lift your sitz bones up and back into downward-facing dog. Bend your knees slightly.
8. Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (three-legged downward dog): Extend your right leg straight back. Bend the knee to open the hip and begin drawing big circles with your kneecap (just like you did lying down).
9. Anjaneyasana (low lunge): Step your right foot in between your hands and reach your arms up to the sky. Keep your pelvis as neural as possible and make sure your right knee is stacked directly over your right ankle.
10. Utthan Pristhasana (lizard pose): Bring both of your hands to the inside of your right foot. Keep your left knee off the ground or place it gently down. If you feel good and ready here, you can come down to your elbows to get more into your hips. Just make sure you’re tucking your right knee into your right shoulder as much as you can.
11. Parivrtta Utthan Pristhasana (twisted lizard pose): Come back up to your fingertips if you came down to your elbows and make sure your knee’s on the floor now. Let your right knee open up to the right side and place your right hand on top of that knee to twist your chest open. If you feel open in your body, try bending your back knee and reaching your right hand back to clasp the ankle. After a few breaths, let the left foot go without snapping it back like a rubber band. Come back into your low lunge position.
12. Tadasana (mountain pose): Step your left foot forward to meet your right and sweep your arms all the way up to come to standing.
Repeat poses seven through 12 on the left side.
13. Malasana (garland pose): From tadasana, scootch your feet so they’re lined up with the edges of the mat. Point your toes out and slowly sit down toward the ground so that the back of your thighs press up against the back of your calves. If you can, keep the entirety of each foot planted on the ground. You can slide a block right under your sitz bones and work on slowly lifting up once you feel more at home in this pose.
14. Balasana (child’s pose): Come to tabletop position and push your hips back to come into child’s pose. Keep your knees together or spread them apart depending on what feels great to you today.
15. Ananda Balasana (happy baby pose): Come to lie down onto your back and bend your knees. Use your hands to grab your inner-knees, ankles, or outsides of the feet to come into happy baby pose. Gently, bring your knees as close as you can to your armpits (almost as if you could place them right inside).
16. Savasana (corpse pose): Extend your legs and arms and rest. You did it, yogi!
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