One-Legged Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
1. From Downward Facing Dog, bring your right knee forward between your hands and lower your hips onto the mat, your right shin at a diagonal. If your hips are tight, place your right heel toward your left hip, and if they are more open start to bring your right shin more parallel to the front of the mat.
2. Rotate your left hip down toward the mat to square the hips, and hug the knees in toward the midline to keep them square. The goal is to even out the hips as much as you can, so if needed, place a block or blanket under the right hip if it is raised.
3. Take a peek at your left leg and make sure that the ankle, knee, and hip are all in one straight line with the toes pointing straight back.
4. Stay here with your hands on either side of your hips, and lift the sternum up toward the ceiling in a backbend, or lower your torso over your right knee bringing your hands in front of your right shin.
5. You can rest on your forearms (top), or walk your hands out bringing the chest toward the floor (bottom). Keep your navel drawing in and your upper body lengthening forward, keeping the spine long. Stay here, and breathe into any areas where you're holding tension. Five breaths is good, 25 is great!
Benefits: Stretches the thighs, groins, psoas, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and neck. It also stimulates the abdominal organs while folded. There is nothing better than a few minutes folded over a bolster in this pose, to undo tightness in the hips after a run or cycling session.
Double Pigeon (Agnistambhasana)
1. Start in seated crossed-egged position. 2. Moving your left shin parallel to the front of the mat, bring your left knee to a 90 degree angle in front of your left hip.
3. Gently place your right shin on top of the left shin, aligning the right knee over the left ankle and the right ankle over the left knee. Try to bring the shins so they're parallel with one another - use the front of your mat as a guide. The shins may not lie flat on top of one another, one knee might be up in the air- if so, place a block underneath it for support. Each time you practice, the knee will release down a bit more.
If you look down between your legs you should see an upside-down triangle.
4. With your hands on either side of the thighs take a deep breath, if you already feel a stretch stay here and breathe, if not, start to walk your hands in front of your shins, reaching your sternum forward as you keep the tailbone rooted down. Keep your spine long and reach out instead of folding forward.
Benefits: This is another pose that is most beneficial when you take the time to hang out and gently let the hips release for a minute or two at least- five would be better. This pose opens the hips in a way similar to pigeon pose, but at the same time hits both glute muscles and the lower back, which also gets tight from sitting at a desk all day.
Supine Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
1. Starting on your back with your knees bent, bring the soles of your feet together and slowly lower the knees down to the floor. If your hips are tight, put a folded blanket or a block under each knee for support (bottom).
2. Lift your pelvis and reach your tailbone toward your heels to create a long spine, then lower it back down.
3. Bring your palms face, up by your hips, resting them at a 45 degree angle from the torso.
4. You can stay here for as long as you like, breathing deeply as you inhale and exhale, calming the nervous system with long, even, breaths.
5. To linger in the pose, do the restorative version with a bolster, folded blanket, or firm pillow under your back (bottom). Take your prop and align it right behind your sacrum while sitting on the mat. Have it positioned in the direction of the spine, supporting your head and neck. This will not only give you a greater opening in the hips, and low back, but also in the shoulders, as they roll open off the pillow or bolster.
Benefits: This pose gently stretches the inner thighs, groins, and knees. It also stimulates the abdominal organs, and helps relieve the symptoms of stress, mild depression, menstruation and menopause.
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