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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hip Openers For Mamas To Be and Everything In Between!

Hip opener poses have been a heaven sent for me as my baby and I grow. I am 3 months pregnant ( 12 weeks and 2 days, not that I'm counting) and my body is continually craving hip openers in my practice. So, I wanted to share with you all a few easy to practice poses that you can do at home and you can practice with a growing belly. These poses are also great for runners, cyclists, cross-fitters and any other athlete where you utilize your glutes, hamstrings, quads, adductors (inner thighs) and psoas muscles ( hip flexors). Enjoy! 

Seated Cross Legged Bow - Glutes and Lower Back

Sitting up tall, pull one heel toward your groin area.

Then cross the opposite leg in front. Allow your butt or sits bones to be rooted down and continue to lengthen the spine. 

Next, keeping lengthened spine, slowly fold forward. You will feel a beautiful opening in the glutes. Hold this pose for 3-4 full breaths ( full inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose). Then uncross legs and repeat on the other side. 

Runners Lunge - Hamstrings and Hip Flexors

Lower yourself into a lunge, with your front knee stacked above your ankle. If this pose bothers your back knee, please place a towel or blanket under the knee. Feel the opening of your hip flexor of the back leg as you sink into this pose. 

Next, begin to pull your body back, straightening out your front leg and pulling your toes toward your body. Keep a slightly bent knee ( to protect it) and focus on lengthening the spine.

You can move through these poses following your breath, inhale as you are forward and exhaling as you move back. Or, hold each pose for 3-4 full breaths. Your choice, whatever feels better for your body! 

Advanced move if you want to open those hip flexors - in runners lunge, lift back foot up and toward your butt, then, with the opposite arm, reach for your foot. This can be an extreme opening of the hip flexor so please be cautious when first attempting. Hold off 3-4 full breaths. 

Seated Wide Legged Forward Fold - Hamstrings and Adductors 

In a seated position, widen legs and flex your feet ( which protects your knees). Just this can bring a beautiful stretch. If it is available to you, keeping a lengthened spine, fold forward. Hold for 3-4 full breaths.

* If this pose is challeneging for you, please place a pillow or block under your butt. It helps it give length in both the hamstraings and spine. I normally always use a block! 

Seated One Legged Forward Fold - Hamstring

From wide legged forward fold, sit up tall and pull one foot in toward your groin. Face your body toward the straight leg, and with a lengthened spine, slowly fold forward. Again, use of a block or pillow under your butt helps with the lengthening. Hold for 3-4 full breaths, and then repeat on the opposite side. 

Standing Wide Legged Forward Fold - Hamstrings, Adductors and Glutes

Same concept as the seated one, but I feel this one is much easier to accomplish. Take a wide legged stance (3-5 feet apart), with a lengthened spine, slowly begin to fold forward. Depending your your flexibility, continue to fold forward until you feel your spine curve. STOP THERE, and keep the length! Keep a lengthened spine is key to this pose and you receive the best benefits that way. Hold for 3-4 full breaths.

For added movement and warmth, externally rotate your toes ( turn them out) slightly, and sink to one side by bending one knee, moving your hands over to that foot. Feel the beautiful opening of your adductors. Hold of 3-4 full breaths. 

Repeat on the opposite side :)

Malasana or Squat Pose - Adductors, Glutes

Stand with feet outside our hips, and toes pointed outward. 

Keep your knees above your toes, begin to squat down. 

Squat down until your elbows are inside and pressing against your legs. Use elbows to increase adductor stretch, but do it over do it! If this pose if very hard on your knees, put a block under your butt for added support. Hold for 3-4 full breaths. 

Use of a strap - Hamstrings and Adductors

Laying down, put strap over the ball of the foot. Keeping a slightly bent knee to begin, slowly pull leg toward your body. Hold for 3-4 full breaths. Once your hamstring is warm, then begin to straighten the knee. Listen to your body. 

Then hold the strap in one hand, and begin to open and lower your leg to the side. Pay attention to your knee, and make sure it does not hyper extend in this pose. Hold for 3-4 full breaths, and smile. 

Happy Baby Pose - Overall Hips

In honor of our future little ones, I intoroduce you to happy baby pose! Hold onto the outside of your feet ( our your big toes), then pull your legs with a bent knee toward your chest. Keep ankles above your knees and lower your lower back down to the ground. Roll around and massage your lower back if possible and hold for 3-4 full breaths. 

Butterfly Pose - Adductors

Pull feet together and bring toward your groin. Allow knees to effortlessly fall open. If knees have a hard time staying down, put blocks under each knee to allow legs to relax. Sit up tall and lengthen spine. Hold for 3-4 full breaths. 

If you would like an extra stretch, with a lengthened spine fold forward into the pose. You can use your elbows to press down on your thighs for an additional love. 

Seated Cross Legged Bridge- Hip flexors 

Sit cross legged and place hands behind you with fingers pointed toward your body. Open up the chest and keep your neck aligned with your spine. 

Then begin to left your hips toward the ceiling. Hold for 3-4 full breaths. Then, settle hips back down the floor, switch cross legs and repeat. 

I hope you enjoyed these poses! These are just a few to help open your hips and give a little more love to your beautiful body. For my mamas, please listen to your body. Do not push, strain or do anything that may feel uncomfortable for you. Honor your growing beautiful body, you deserve it. 


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