Video: Phil demonstrates Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose)
More Photos here!
YoGanesh teacher Phil Lynch recently led an eye-and-hip opening “Hips & Hamstrings” workshop. Here, Phil shows you exactly what goes on “behind closed hips” and how to unlock them with mindful techniques.
Words and photos by Lynette Chiang
Here is an example of extension of the thigh bone (femur). From a seated position, the thigh bone is considered fixed or stationary. The stretch is activated when the practitioner lays back on the bolster or floor. It is there that one starts to feel the intensity of stretching the thigh muscles (quadriceps) as well as the flexers, illio-psoas and tensor fasciae latae (TFL).
Here is Phil describing the neutral or “fixed” position of the hips with the use of the floor to give each student a point of reference to feel neutral. The feet are firmly planted on the floor to create a slight flexion (knee moving up towards the chest) to the thigh bones to better support the pelvis in its neutral or balanced position. If the legs were laid out to ground (straight knees), the pelvis would begin to tip forward (anterior tilt) create a more pronounced lower back arch inward. This is why students often place a bolster beneath their knees during Savasana to lessen the pressure or pain to the low back.
Supta Padagutasana with the use of a belt, pictured from the practitioner’s point of view, thanks Lynette! With the hips fixed, the thigh bone has moved into flexion. The standing variation of this pose is much harder to maintain the fixed position of the hips (see video above for more details).
This is a standing variation of flexion with abduction (moving away from the body – think of “abduct” as meaning “taking away”) and a slight action of turning the thigh bone outward (external rotation) to offset the lateral tilt of the pelvis (again, see video above).
The above photo is a great example of several actions at once: Thigh bone turning inward (medial rotation) with a slight extension and knee moving into the mid-line of the body (adduction) of the bottom leg and external rotation with some moving the knee away from the mid line (abduction) to the top leg.
It helps to use the top foot to lengthen the outer thigh and hip for the bottom leg’s expression of the extension and medial rotation.
Don’t think that these students are just laying around for an afternoon nap! No way, these guys and gals are getting a lot done, in a very intense but relaxed way. This particular stretch is helpful in opening the hips by accessing both sides of adductors (pectineus, adductors: brevis, longus, and magnus and gracilis) at the same time. It takes a few minutes to begin to relax but it’s worth it and as well, it makes opening the forward knee in Warrior 2 a lot easier.
This is a good example to adduction to the thigh bones while moving the pelvis into a forward bend (anterior tilt). It’s a great stretch to feel the rotators of the outer hips while isolating an intense hamstring stretch to the back leg. Whoa, don’t forget to breath for this one!
More photos of this workshop on the Yoganesh Facebook page
Feel free to place a comment below.
See you in class!
We’ve got a big new heater, but as we head into winter perhaps bring along warm sox and a sweater for a cozy Savasana.