Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sequence to Open the Hips/Chest

Earlier this week I did a longer and more intense practice that left me a bit sore and tight for the couple of days that followed.  So yesterday I decided to dedicate the physical part of my practice to releasing some tension in my hips and opening up my chest.  After a long, slow warm-up consisting of mindful sun salutations, crescent lunges with back knee down, some gentle backbends such as locust pose...I began this sequence:

-from tadasana (mountain pose), step into virabhadrasana II (warrior 2).  Breathe slowly into trikonasana (triangle) and hold.
-transition with the breath to prasarita padottanasana(wide-legged forward fold).  After a few breaths here, keep the head down and begin to swivel the feet so that you end up facing the front of your mat and finding a slightly shorter stance for parsvottanasana (intense side stretch pose).
-in parsvottanasana, come to fingertips to the mat with neck steady and level, so as to open the pectoral muscles while stretching the hips/hamstrings and strengthening the ankles and back.
-next transition into ardha chandrasana (half moon).  Whichever foot is more forward, take that hand and walk it out and up a few inches.  Once setting your drishti (gaze), begin to lift the back foot off the mat, opening the hip, chest, and top arm for a deep side stretch/chest opener.
-without losing your focus, move from half moon directly into urdhva muka eka pada rajakapotasana (half pigeon).  This means the foot in the air will (as gracefully as you can manage) return to the back of the mat and your hips will square to the mat as you prep your knee, arms, hips for the pose.  Hold half pigeon longer than any of the other poses.  Maybe add a twist, stay upright, fold arms behind you, or take king pigeon.  Listen to where you need to be.  When ready to come out of it, lift arms out and up until palms meet over head for another slight back bend, then plant hands to the mat on both sides to come out into adho muka svanasana (downward facing dog).
-stay in down dog for a few breaths, then end in balasana (child's pose) for as long as you need before starting the same sequence on the other side.

After practicing this sequence on both sides, I suggest rounding out the practice with at least one deep forward fold, one nice twist, and maybe an inversion before resting in savasana.


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