yoga teacher trainingBy Faye Martins

The hips hold a tremendous amount of tension. Yoga training poses for muscular tension in the hip area also reduce lower back tension. When our lower backs are tense, our neck and shoulder areas also become tense, and our alignment is not optimally supported. Yoga poses that release tension in the hip area help to increase energy by increasing the flow of life force energy throughout the entire body. A flexible hip area also helps to support correct postural alignment. Some of the most effective hip opening postures are Pigeon Pose and Fire Log Pose.

Pigeon Pose

To practice Pigeon Pose: warm-up first with a few rounds of Sun Salutations. When you are adequately warmed-up, come to Mountain Pose or Tadasana at the top of your Yoga mat. Take one complete Yogic breath. On your next inhale, raise your arms overhead and complete a Sun Salutation vinyasa pausing in Downward Facing Dog. From Downward Facing Dog, raise your right leg behind you to hip height with your toes pointing towards the floor. With your next inhale; gently but firmly swing your right leg up to the front of your mat. Softly lower yourself down as you place the outside of your right shin 45 to 90 degrees to the left leg, while it rests on top  of your Yoga mat.

If your level of flexibility does not allow you to place your shin perpendicular to the top of your mat, place your shin at a comfortable angle for you today. With your next exhale; bend forward over your right shin until you feel a nice stretch in your hip area. To increase the intensity of Pigeon Pose, place your hands in the front left section of your Yoga mat with your arms fully extended. This diagonal placement will also stretch the side right torso and increase the stretch in your right hip. To come out of the asana, inhale and release the posture flowing smoothly back into Downward Facing Dog. Hold Downward Facing Dog for three complete Yogic breaths and repeat Pigeon Pose on the left side.

Fire Log Pose

Fire Log Pose mimics the placement of two logs on top of each other. In this case, the logs are your lower legs. From Downward Facing Dog come to a sitting position on your Yoga mat. Bend your right leg in so that it is perpendicular to the top of your mat. Next, bend your left leg and place it squarely on top of your right leg with your left foot resting on your right knee. Take one complete Yogic breath and with your next exhale, bend forward gently until you feel a good stretch in your right hip. Hold for three to five breaths. To release the pose, slowly come up and stretch your legs out in front of you. Repeat on the left side.

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