Happy Hips - Vertue Yoga Stretch Sequence
As promised on my snapchat recently, I have written out for you one of my favourite at home stretch sequences.
It's simple, but effective if done consistently. It is PERFECT as a night time, hip opening sequence. It's even guy friendly, in fact, you and bae can do it next to each other while netflix is on.
It's not a flowing yoga sequence. It simply requires that you hold each posture/stretch for a designated number of breaths. I chose breaths over seconds because it keeps you focused on relaxation. It also encourages the nervous system to relax which will aid in the release of the muscle and fascial tissue.
*As always, it's important that you check with a physician before embarking on any physical exercise or intense stretch.
Begin on the floor.
1. You're going to lie on your side, beginning to squidge your butt up against the wall. It's going to be awkward, but no one is watching, so just get into the position.
2. From there you want to roll onto your back so that you end up in a pose called, wait for it; 'Legs up the wall'. You're legs literally extend up against the wall. Stay here for 10 breaths.
This posture is extremely relieving on the lower back. It also takes a little pressure off the circulatory system by promoting venous return (blood that returns back to the heart and then lungs for gaseous exchange).
3. Hip Opening - Now we are going to take this into a hip opening stretch. Cross the right ankle just under the left knee. Bend your left knee so that your foot touches the wall. Continue to bend the left knee until the hips start to lift off the floor. You want to make sure you keep your hips pressing down towards the floor beneath you. Hold here for 10 breaths.
This pose stretches your Piriformis, a deep external rotator within the hip, except when the hip is in a flexed position, instead the Piriformis actually becomes an internal rotator (hence why it stretches during external rotation during the flexed pigeon position). A tight Piriformis can cause pain that is very similar to sciatica (that's why it's often confused with sciatica).
4. Repeat on the other side, holding for 10 breaths.
5. Reclining Cobblers Pose (wall variation): You will take it into a groin stretch. Bring the soles of the feet together and let the knees press out wide. Use your hands to press the knees gently towards the wall. Keep your lower back relaxing down towards the floor. Stay for 5 breaths.
This posture is a brilliant precursor to the next more intense groin stretch.
6. Side Splits wall variation; This posture is an all time favourite amongst gymnastcs and yogis alike. While yogis tend to work towards relaxation, gymnasts will very often turn this into a drill that builds both flexibility and strength (the best cocktail for the body ever). Take the legs into a side split position, using your hands to further help the groin stretch. Stay here for 10 breaths.
Alternatively if you would like to do the gymnastics variation, take the legs into a split position as far as you can, then from there bring the legs together again without using your hands for help. Repeat this 'open and close' motion 10 times to help build stability and mobility within the groin and hamstrings.
7. Wall supported Lunge: Come into a lunge and take the one foot forward, tucking your other foot up against the wall. You will want your back knee relatively close to the wall to facilitate a deep stretch for the quad when you lift your body. Very slowly bring your hands up to rest on the knee and lift your chest. Try to tuck your tailbone towards the floor and you pull your ribs inward. You can also raise your opposite arm (to the leg that's infront). Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.
This pose is AMAZING for the Quad and hamstring but it is quite intense. I have put it in this sequence because a lot of people forget to stretch the anterior chain (front body). If you spend a lot of time in chairs with your hips flexed, it's really important to open out the psoas and quad frequently.