These five poses will help you open up the hips, hamstrings and lower back and lead to overall improved flexibility.
This being a Yin Yoga practice, we will hold these passive poses for a few minutes each, without using muscular effort. While you hold a pose, do your best to relax and try not to fidget.
You will want to have at least one block handy, though I recommend having two for extra support. If you have it available also gather a bolster and a blanket.
These poses are a collection from my most recent video, Yin Yoga for your Hips, Hamstrings & Low Back. Click on the link if you would like to take the full 35 minute practice alongside with me.
1. Child’s Pose
Begin in a wide-legged child’s pose, bringing your big toes together, letting the knees fall apart and walk your hands forward so that your forehead can rest on the ground. Take deep belly breaths in and out through the nose. This is a wonderful pose to help relieve any discomfort in the lower back and in the areas of the hips. If your forehead doesn’t quite make it to the ground you can place a block or a pillow underneath it. The tendency here is to allow the shoulders rise up to the ears, so see if you can keep them pressing down.
2. Low Lunge
If you have a blanket nearby you can place it underneath the knees for a little bit of padding. And maybe grab a hold of your blocks, moving into our low lunge. Step your right foot forward in between the palms, keeping you feet about hip width distance apart. Here we’re focusing mostly on the stretch and the opening at the front of the thigh, deep into the quads and right into the hips. Imagine melting and pressing the hips down towards the floor. Breath into that sensation of the pose.
After holding for a few minutes, carefully step your right foot back and switch sides.
3. Half Shoelace
Extend your legs straight in front of you. Keep the right leg straight, bend the left knee, cross your left foot over that right thigh and keep crossing it over until you can stack your left knee directly on top of the right one. If your left knee stays more uplifted that’s fine too, you can always place a block or blanket in between. And then from here hinge forward at the waist & start to fold down. It really doesn’t take much to start to get that really deep stretch into the hamstrings. Let yourself soften and relax, and then what I always like to do is use a block under my forehead. We want to relax the arms, the neck and shoulders, letting gravity do the work.
After holding for a few minutes, carefully release and switch sides.
4. Windshield Wipers
Let’s bring our feet flat to the ground, hands behind you and just let your knees drop from side to side, like a windshield wiper motion. This is a great counterpose, really at any point of any seqeunce, to release the spine, especially your lower back region, as well as the hips.
5. Happy Baby
Pull both knees in towards the chest, gently rocking from side to side, massaging the lower back. You can stay in this first variation or you’re welcome to come into Happy Baby by staking your ankles over your knees and grabbing either onto your big toes with your peace fingers or just the outside of the feet, placing your elbows to the insides of your knees. Keep your tailbone down onto the mat as you do this. Head & Shoulders are still relaxed. If this pose doesn’t work for you just come back into the original pose, hugging your knees to your chest. You’ll get the same benefits without going over your edge.