Hip Opener, Seated
Setup and Key Actions
Sit tall with your legs out in front of you in dandasana (staff pose). If your lower back rounds sit up on a folded blanket (or two, or more) to maintain a natural curve in your lower back. You can keep your left leg extended, or bend your left knee, bringing your left heel to your right outer hip (like you would for ardha matsyendrasana). Bend your right knee in toward you, wrap your hands around your right shin, and draw your right knee up in toward your right armpit, flexing your right foot. Continue to sit tall, lengthening up through your spine. Then bring your left hand to hold the sole of your right foot, right under your heel, and bring your right hand to your outer right knee. Rock your leg from side to side a few times, like you’re cradling a baby.
You can stay here, or, if it feels comfortable and accessible today, you can bring your right knee to the crook of your right elbow. Stay here, or bring your right foot into the crook of your left elbow. Lift your shin up toward your sternum (breastbone), and lengthen up tall through your spine. Draw the pinky-toe side of your right foot back toward your knee (it will tend to reach forward, away from your knee), and aim your knee toward the pinky-toe side of your foot, working to make your shin more horizontal. Press out through the ball of your right big toe.
If baby cradle causes your lower back to round a lot, or doesn’t feel good for your knee, try a seated figure four stretch instead, planting your feet on the floor and your palms or fingertips on the floor behind you. Lean back (keeping a long spine); cross your right ankle over your left thigh, keeping your right foot flexed; and walk your hands back until you find a position where you’re able to maintain a gentle curve in your lower back.