Yes, so my obscenely tight hips and I have decided to face off in a battle to conquer the front and straddle split.
The hips are an intricate machinery of 22 muscles working together. Of which, currently only 2 muscles listen to me 🙂 The other 20 are in complete rebellion.
Before I threw my back out, I had made some (read minimal) headway with both the forward and straddle split. Most of that has gotten undone. However, in the last few weeks of practice, I have started to feel the length return to my muscles.
I still have a long way to go.
Happily, I’m no longer suffering tear-inducing soreness. My body and I have reached an understanding, and now I mostly feel the satisfying ache of stretches well done. I realise that the most important thing is to keep at it. Every day I shirk, I can feel my hips smirk.
To work my tight hips, hamstrings and quads towards the eventual aim of a straddle split and both side splits, here are some of the asanas I’m focusing on.
One legged Pigeon Pose/Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana: Big love for quadriceps and hips. This is one of those poses you just know is opening you up. Deep breathing helps the tightness reduce and lets my body to accept the stretch better.
Wide Child’s pose/Balasana: A delicious stretch for the back in addition to a gentle opening up of the quads and hips. I love how this pose persuades my hips and thighs to let go. A nice respite from some of the deeper and ouchier stretches. My aim is to eventually land my hips on my heels.
Cow Face Pose Gomukhasana: While I have no trouble sitting both my hip/sit bones down comfortably in Gomukhasana, I can’t properly stack my knees. But the more I practice, the more comfortable it gets. Such a wonderful stretch for the arms, upper back and shoulders too.
Frog Pose/Mandukasana: I both love and hate this one. I can feel it work deep within my hips, but it also makes me very aware of just how tight my hips are and how much work I have to do. And I have to be aware that my spine is neutral. I try and use every breath to push my knees further apart, even if it’s a milimeter (or less) at a time.
Half Lotus/Half Padmasana: Sitting cross-legged for long periods of time has been a challenge for me in the past. Half Padmasana works not just to lubricate my hips, and stretch my quads, but also to lengthen and strengthen my spine.
Seated/Wide Straddle/Upavistha Konasana: Another ouchy one for me. I’ve been doing a combination of working against the wall, rocking my hips in a wide legged seated stance and doing partner work to open out the inner thighs and the hips. I try and hold this one for longer periods, in the hope that sooner or later my body will realise that this is easy-peasy. I’m not there yet.
Standing Straddle/Prasarita Padottanasana: My challenge here is to work my feet further away from one another in a wide straddle. My hamstrings are getting longer faster than my hips are opening up. But progress is progress :). I’ve been adding pyramid and bouncing variations of these poses to mix things up a bit.
Yoga Squat/Malasana: I’ve read that squatting is one of the best things you can do for your body. With the Yoga squat, (and the added blessings of the other hip openers) I can feel my hips sink lower. A grounding pose, the squat works my legs while convincing my hips to give in.
Lizard pose/Utthan Prithasana: Lunges are a beautiful exercise for length and strength in the legs, and I particularly enjoy the Lizard pose. Maybe it’s because I don’t struggle so much in it. Or perhaps, it’s because I can feel my quads, hips and hammies open up quicker when I do this asana. I also like the variations of open foot, open knee, etc. to keep it interesting.
Butterfly/Badhakonasana: There’s something incredibly complete about bringing the soles of your feet together. Variations of pulsing, leaning forward and extending the pose in a supine position, etc. are helping my knees make it all way to the floor.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of the asanas I’m practicing to get me to the splits. I’m also doing a lot of warrior poses, downward facing dog (my favourite asana), bends and twists, etc. to open my body up. Hopefully, I’m inching downwards towards my goal.
It’s time to show these hips who is boss.
Stay tuned for updates on the battle between an imperfect yogi and her hips 🙂