Monday, August 30, 2010

Morning Viniyoga Therapy for Hips

I've been doing this great yoga therapy sequence in the mornings.  It's from Gary Kraftsow's Yoga Therapy for Hips, Lower back and Sacrum.  It's such a great way to wake up.

I go right into the other room where my mat is set up alongside a portable DVD player.  The room is nice and big with a high ceilings featuring a pair of skylights and tons of windows with a view onto the green side of our house including the garden. 

The series begins supine (on the back) and works in the viniyoga style - which is gentle targeted movements that are timed with the breath.  Most poses have two phases - moving in with the inhale and coming out with the exhale.  This is so different from your typical yoga approach - get into an asana and stay for a while, calm breath.

The purpose of the 30 minute hip therapy routine is to stimulate circulation around the hips by working the distinct muscle groups of the hips in rounds of poses.  I have been practicing this series to work my own hip issues.  My left leg is currently .25 inches longer than my right and with the help of Bikram and a chiropractor, I've made progress.  Great progress... but have still had this nagging pinching sensation on the left medial illium area.

This yoga therapy sequence is healing me!  Not only that, but it's helping me be able to hike - an activity that I've been unable to do for a few years.  I'm also learning it from the inside out because I want to teach it.  It's not like in my corporate yoga work I can do targeted yoga therapy for individuals.  There's no time or money for that.  But in these worksite group settings, I'm dealing with inflexible, stressed people in office clothes.  So I need to find adaptable poses that aren't too challenging and are close to the floor.

Taking sessions with Gary at a YJ conference was mind blowing to me.  Sure, you look at people doing viniyoga and the yoga perfectionist mentality scoffs.  Knees bent in warrior two?  Spending a half hour on the floor doing yoga in the morning?  Really?  But the work you do is safe and balanced enough to get deep into the body and heal it through gentle breath-centric movement that increases circulation, keeping what's working working and allowing some easing of tension in other muscle groups.

Anyway, there's this great lunge series I thought I'd share with you.  

Stand on the knees, knees hip width apart.

Bring the left foot forward, creating a 90 degree angle with the left leg (left foot under the left knee), both hands on the left knee.

Inhale as you lunge forward, and gently lift the chest.
Exhale and come back out.
Repeat twice.
It's easy, in this part, to really lunge forward and feel the right hip stretch.  However what I've learned is that if I don't max out the lunge (which seems to stretch the surface muscles of the hip) and really focus on the chest lift away from the pelvis, you stretch much more deeply into the psoas and hip.  Deeper connecting muscles.  It feels A-MAZ-ING!!

On the third lunge "in" instead of coming out on exhale you stay for a couple breaths, adding in an arm movement.
Exhale drop right arm to the side.
Inhale lift the right arm to stretch deep into the psoas.  If you start to get the nuance of how to stretch deeper into the hip connectors, this arm reach can augment the stretch.
Exhale arm back to the side, repeat twice.

Come out of the lunge, repeat this series on the other side.  So you can work this so intensely and deep that you're shaking at the end of the pose.  However it's safe for uninjured beginners.  They don't quite get the nuance and the set up is a little challenging to their stability, but they will certainly be able to work to the point of feeling something great.

I love it.

With regards to Bikram, every time I'm on the mat right now is really tough.  I'm starting the journey of conception and basically it's toying with my emotions a lot, which for me, just makes my Bikram practice so hard.  I don't feel I have the fortitude of spirit to even get on the mat a lot, and last week I gave myself the week off - I didn't push myself to practice.  I don't feel awesome though - it definitely helps me when I do practice.  So my goal this week is to hit the mat four times between today and Sunday.  Here's hoping!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of my most favorite yoga quotes and practice/teaching mantras is from Gary: “The asanas have no function of their own. It is only how they serve the practitioner.”

Please remember that as you take care of yourself and decide if your Bikram practice is too much for your spirit at this time. Be gentle with yourself!