Wanting to start a home practice but not sure where to start? Or maybe looking for a yummy little sequence to start the day… Read on!
This short flow is perfect to kick off a hip opening session or as a stand-alone short practice when time is precious. Done fast, it can also work beautifully as a cardiovascular workout, or to warm up before deeper stretches. And it is delicious when done slooooowly…mindfully noting and reacting to every tiny sensation from start to finish.
1. MOUNTAIN POSE
Start in a strong tadāsana (mountain pose) with both feet grounding firmly through toes AND heels as you grow tall through the crown of the head. Engage front of thighs to draw knee caps up as you lengthen the back of the legs. Draw shoulder blades gently back and towards the waist to open the front of the chest and shoulders. Hold this pose for a few deep breaths and take your focus internally.
2. FORWARD FOLD
Inhale to raise arms overhead, then exhale into uttānasana (forward fold), placing the hands on the floor or shins. Inhale to lift the chest, fold again on the exhale for extra yumminess. Once in the fold keep the sit bones rising high as you lengthen the back of the legs as much as feels good – remember that your muscle stretch should ease or remain the same as you hold the pose. Work the front of thighs to draw knee caps up – this is the same action as in tadāsana but harder to find when you are upside down! With each inhale, lengthen the spine through the crown of the head and then engage the abs to fold deeper on the exhale.
3. LOW CRESCENT LUNGE
Inhale to lift chest and come on to fingertips. Step back with left leg and drop that knee to the mat. The back foot can be rested on the mat or tuck the toes under for an extra stretch in the front of the hip. Find your balance and then take a big breath as you raise both arms overhead. Keep lower ribs drawn down to prevent too much backbend in the lower back as you draw shoulder blades gently together and towards waist – feel the arms widen either side of the head as you do this. Look up to the hands to see the fingers stretching to the ceiling or even the wall behind you?!
4. HIGH LUNGE
Exhale hands back to either side of the right foot and lift left knee to stretch the front of the left hip. Here you have options – simply keep chin and chest up in this position or lift the body upright and rest both hands on the front thigh. Inhaling the hands overhead like in the low crescent lunge brings you into cheeky anjaneyāsana, or high crescent lunge if that works for your body.
5. RUNNERS STRETCH
Place fingertips on the floor either side of your right leg. Straighten right leg and fold body forwards – aim to keep chest lifted as you fold rather than curling up like a snail. Keep stretching down through back heel and keep as much bend in the front knee as you need to to be comfortable in the stretch.
6. TWISTED LUNGE
Bend the front (right) knee and plant left-hand flat on the mat under the left shoulder and level with the right foot. Inhale to lengthen body from back heel to crown of the head, then exhale twist to the right and draw right the elbow towards the sky. Imagine you are drawing an arrow in a bow here to get the right action. Aim to keep pushing back through the left heel and ease the right knee outwards as it will want to drive to the left. There is also the option to straighten the right elbow to stretch from left hand to right hand across the open chest – delicious!
7. WINGED DRAGON
Place the right hand on the mat inside the right foot. Tuck your shoulder inside the right thigh and lower chest towards the mat – on to your forearms if you can. Aim to keep the chest and back knee lifted as you push back through the left heel. There is the option to lower the left knee if that suits your body better and/or to drop the right knee out to the side to get a different hip stretch.
8. WIDE LEGGED FORWARD FOLD
Straighten arms and lift chest then straighten both legs, keeping both hands on the floor. Walk hands round to left into prasaritta padotanāsana, wide-legged forward fold, and rest here if it feels nice. If you want to make this pose active – work to lift the sit bones as the heels ground down.
9. AND NOW FOR THE OTHER SIDE
When you are ready to repeat the sequence on the other side, walk the hands around until you face what was the back of the mat. Drop the right knee to the mat and you are ready for a low crescent lunge with right leg back.
This is my ‘go-to’ sequence for SO many reasons – I love how good it makes me feel. Try it – I hope you love it too!