There's a lot going on in the summertime. Driving long distances for vacations, walks on sandy beaches, sitting on bleachers to watch games or concerts, and taking part in sports. All of this stuff creates hip stress, if we don't give our hips some loving attention.
Think about it. Sitting keeps our hip flexors in the same position for an extended period of time. Beach action means walking with a different gait on a somewhat unstable surface. And becoming golfers and softball players or what have you after a more sedentary season of winter can surprise our hips into balking at all the sudden activity.
There's a way to do all these summertime grooving things, though. Just stretch properly and build some strength. And I'm talking to everyone. If any of you have been following me long enough, you know I'm a hip flexor / psoas nerd. This large muscle group can help us to feel comfort and peace or can cause us pain, stress, and anxiety. A healthy psoas can be your best friend, and it's one of the secrets to a more easeful lifestyle.
Below is a little sequence with modifications for everyone interested in finding more comfort in their hip flexors. I hope you enjoy.
Supine Psoas St-re-tchchchch - Hug in one knee and lengthen the other leg. Flex both feet. Relax your shoulders. Now, reach the extended leg's foot toward an imaginary wall. With each exhale, reach that leg a little longer. This helps to gently stretch the psoas muscle on that side. After 7-10 breaths here, inhale knees toward chest and exhale the opposite leg long to stretch the other side.
Gentle Sacrum Massage - Hug it in and make circles with your breath on the flat part of your low back, the sacrum.
Table Walk to Reverse Vinyasa - Come to tabletop pose and then walk your knees back. Loop your shoulders so that your shoulder blades come toward each other on your back. Send your elbows straight back as you exhale and lower your hips to the mat, then your belly, and then your heart space. Once your forehead kisses the mat, inhale and reverse the flow back to table top. Then exhale your hips back to balasana, child's pose. Breath 7-10 breaths here. (Uncomfortable? Settle a blanket or cushion between your bum and your heels.)
Uttanasana / Ardha Uttansana Flow - My go to after sitting, before and after running, and when I just feel uncomfortable in general. Give loving attention to the back of your hip flexors in order to ease the front. It's all connected.... So, exhale into forward fold (uttanasana). Bend into your knees a bit, and send your belly toward your thighs. Let your hands rest on the mat or your feet or a block (no dangling!) and let your head hang loose. Now, inhale to send your thigh bones back and your hips. Straighten into the legs and lift your upper body halfway. Send your shoulders away from your ears and look forward. Again, no dangling hands. Support them onto your shins, thighs, or the floor. Inhale and exhale as you slow transition back and forth between these two standing poses.
Anjaneyasana - From forward fold, step the left foot back and lower that knee to the mat. Loop shoulders up and back and sent heart forward. Exhale hips forward. Play a bit here to see where the stretch feels right, but be gentle. Before stepping forward to switch sides, take the next pose below.
Utthan Pristhasana - Taking a modified version of lizard pose, send the left hand to the inside of the left foot. Walk the left foot toward the edge of the mat. Stay here or lift your back knee off the mat. Loop you shoulders back so that your heart leads the way. Take 7-10 breaths here, or lower forearms to the floor (or a block) to deepen the stretch.
Exhale knee back to the mat. Walk left foot back in a bit, and move the left hand to the outside of the left foot. Inhale and step the back foot up to meet its mate. Exhale to forward fold. Inhale and root to rise (press feet into the mat) as you come to upward facing solute. Exhale back to forward fold and take the other side for Anjaneyasana and Utthan Pristhasana.
Constructive Rest Pose - After second side, settle onto your back for a savasana variation. This one is called CRP (pretty technical, right?) It stands for Constructive Rest Pose. Settle the sacrum onto the floor. Place your feet parallel and slightly wider than your hips. Send your knees straight up to the sky. Nestle your shoulder blades beneath you and place your hands on your belly. Breathe and rest for 5 minutes (or as long as you are able)
Wishing you peace and happy hips.