Saturday, 13 February 2016

A Big Little Hip Sequence That Looks Easy But Is Very Challenging

Wow, what a title.  I must try and make it live up to its name.

Here I share with you a short sequence we are practicing at the moment in class.  It involves two basic postures although you transition through other positions to get there.

Most people will experience some sensation around their outer hip (outer or side butt area), which will be working and lengthening at the same time.  That can help you get stronger and more agile.

The standing leg is working strongly very deeply on the inside and outside of the thigh to help keep the pelvis stable as well.  This type of stability is essential for standing postures and especially one legged standing postures.

Remember, there is lots of goodness to be had here.  Just don't overdo it.

I will sequence the postures, layering additional movements.  Try not to 'lose' what you cultivated in a previous action by striving too hard to get to the next.  Do not be attached to a particular outcome. Be content wherever you happen to be.  Enjoy, sense, and experience.

I have sped up the video below but you can play it at half speed to get the sense of the very slow movement I am doing.  It took 2 minutes for me to cycle through these two postures in real time while this video takes about 54 seconds.

Below are step by step instructions.  Two key things I am focusing on throughout (they are not the only things you could focus on) are: 1) rolling front thigh out and back thigh in; 2) lengthening the back of the spine (doing a little back bend in my middle upper back) while keeping lower ribs hugged in.  This is not about a straight front leg.  If that straightens then so be it.  It is not about getting the back leg raised as high as you can either.  If it comes up then so be it.  Pay more attention to the two key things I just listed.

Standing to folding forward
Basics throughout include trying to unsquash front of groin and lengthen lower back.  Also, to roll the front thigh out (back thigh in).  To support these two ideas start in standing.  Sitting bones to heels, top of pelvis back (opens groins and lengthens lower back).  Roll both thighs out (you can start with big toes touching, heels apart and try to squash heels together if you like).

As you fold forward try to keep those actions.  It is not important that the legs straighten.  Push your front of groins forward as you lower.

 Stepping back, lengthening, rotating
Step a foot back.  As you step back be sure you do not drop or sink into the standing leg.  Try to feel you are pressing your outer hips towards one another.  The standing leg tends to swing out to the side so try your best to avoid that. The standing leg also tends to roll in.  That means your knee tends to drop towards the big toe side of your foot.  Roll the thigh out so it is pointing more to the baby toe side of your foot.  Firm your inner thigh.

 Straighten the back leg and roll the thigh in.  Lengthen in the middle back (try to do a backbend there) while keeping the lower ribs in.

Press your front of groins forward and lean forward.

If your back foot is feeling light, if your front hip feels strong and stable, then perhaps raise the straight back leg.  It is not important how high it comes.  It is not even important that it comes off the ground.  Just keep it straight and rolled in wherever it is.

From there, maybe you turn your navel, ribs, and chest.  Possibly take the arm up.  You could put that top arm on your hip.  The top arm is in a flat plane level with your upper back.

Two feet on the ground, lengthen, rotate
You basically repeat those same steps but this time with both legs on the ground, back heel grounded.  Some people will be able to reach the ground with their hands and front leg straight.  However, in this variation the front leg does not need to straighten, nor do you need to touch the ground.  For many people this will not be possible unless they compromise some other part of the posture.

Here I step back, raising my body and bringing hands to thighs.  You might raise higher.  See my front knee is bent.  I have my back leg a little bent here too until I sort my hips out.

Front thigh is rolling out, back thigh is rolling in.
 I keep my ribs into my spine but try a little back arch in my middle back to lengthen the spine.  It is not an arched spine but a lengthened one.  In fact, I am sort of doing a forward bending manoeuvre in my lower torso (a sit up in my tummy) while I try to do a little lengthening in the middle part. The net effect is a softening lengthened feeling of the back body.  I stretch the mat with my feet and straighten the back leg (I have somehow kept my own a little bent here).

I stay or turn.  In the video you see I turn first and then put the arms in place.  That is important.  I turn with my spine NOT by yanking myself into position with my hands.

I possibly take my hands lower, without losing any preceding actions.
From there I maybe straighten the leg.  
And finally, I possibly take that hand over to the inside of my foot.  

I am calm and happy.  My neck is in a comfortable position throughout.

The end
This is not the only way to come into these postures.  It is one way.  You should feel challenged while doing this without strain.  If there is strain then do something else.  Remember, it is best to work with an experienced teacher rather than learn from the internet.  We all have out little niggles and differences.  Also, learning about movement is something best done with a living person in front of you.

Hey!  If you are free in April 2016 and able to join me then come to my Sri Lanka yoga retreat!  I would love to see you there.

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