Here's to Happier Hips
At a retreat I taught at a while back, a student approached me with tears in her eyes asking if there was anything I could do to give her relief from sciatica. She was in so much pain that she could hardly walk - it was heartbreaking. I slowly guided her through the Hip Series and watched her pain melt away. She felt more range of motion than she had ever experienced while dealing with sciatica and left our session beaming. At the end of the retreat, she approached me saying that this sequence had changed her life and offered her a painless day for the first time in years. Truly amazing! I have witnessed its benefits in all of my students' practices as well as in my own. The Hip Series helps keep me balanced, live without pain, and maintain both strength and flexibility in my muscles.
The Purna Yoga Hip Series was created by Aadil Palkhivala to address all actions of the hip joint: flexion, adduction, abduction, internal rotation, external rotation, and extension. By practicing this sequence we not only restore range of motion and increase flexibility, but we also decompress the hip joint and balance our hips. The Hip Series should be a part of everyone's practice but is especially therapeutic for those with knee or low back pain, SI joint dysfunction, sciatica, people who sit at their desk all day, and athletes.
Try adding this sequence to your practice every day for a week and see how you feel! Even after one session, you will notice a difference. The full Hip Series takes 30-45 minutes so if you are pressed for time, practice the first three poses in the sequence. They make for a great warm up before standing poses, wake-up sequence, running cool-down, or to unwind before bed.
As you practice the sequence, take a moment to become aware of which side is tighter than the other. You are aiming to balance the hips - meaning that you may need to hold one side longer than the other. Listen to your body, it will let you know what you need.
Each pose can be modified for the practitioner's needs - feel free to send me an email for assistance on modifications!
1. Supta Padangusthasana
Flexion - Opens the Hamstrings
Come lying down on your mat with your legs together. Place a strap around your right foot, holding the strap with your right hand keeping both of your legs straight. Walk your hand up the strap until your right arm is also straight. Exhaling, squeeze both of your quadriceps and flex both of your feet. On the inhalation, lift the pit of your belly. As you exhale, stretch your right heel upwards while pointing your toes down towards your head. Move the outer right hip away from your shoulders to balance your hips. Keep the left foot engaged and continue to squeeze both of your quads as you exhale. Hold for 3-9 breaths and repeat these actions on the left side.
2. Parivrtta Supta Padangusthasana
Adduction - Opens the ABductors
Take the strap around the inside of your right foot and hold it in your left hand, keeping both of your legs and your left arm straight. Bring your right thumb into the crease of your right hip. Exhaling, squeeze both of your quads and flex your feet. Slowly lower your right leg to cross your body. Have your right foot inline with your left shoulder and no further past. Take a deep breath in and left the pit of your belly. Exhaling, press the thumb into the crease of your hip to move the outer right hip away from the joint. Continue to squeeze your quads and flex your feet while internally rotating the left leg. Hold for 2-3 breaths and switch sides.
3. Parshva Supta Padangusthasana
Abduction - Opens the ADductors
Take the loop of the strap around the outside of your right foot and bring your right leg straight up. Walk up a little higher on the strap with your hand than the previous two poses. Place your left hand on the top of your left thigh. Exhaling, squeeze both of your quads and flex both of your feet. Inhaling, lift the pit of your belly. On your next exhalation, slowly lower your right leg down towards the floor. Apply pressure with your left hand to your left thigh and keep both of your legs active. Hold this pose for 3-9 breaths, bring the leg back up to your midline, and do the same actions on the left side.
internal rotation - Opens external rotators, psoas, and iliacus
Begin lying on your back with your knees bent at 90°. Walk your right foot out just past the edge of your mat and bring your right knee towards the floor at your midline. Take a look at your right leg and make sure it is in line with your right hip and that your knee is at a 90° angle. Evert the foot and press into the heel. If there is no knee pain, slowly bring the outer left ankle to the top of the right knee. Exhaling, extend through the top of your right thigh and press the knee towards the floor. Inhaling, lift the pit of your belly. Allow the weight of your left foot to bring your right knee to the floor. Hold for 9 breaths and then very slowly come out of the pose, bend your knees, walk your right foot back to midline and switch sides.
5. Supta Janu Padasthilasana
External rotation - Opens internal rotators and some external rotators
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent at 90° and your feet hip distance apart. Cross your right foot behind your left heel and lower the right knee down towards the floor. Make sure you still have a 90° with your right leg. If there is no knee pain, bring the outer left ankle to the top of your right thigh. Make sure that your legs are still center with your body - they tend to skew to the left. If your right knee is off of the ground, add a block under the knee for support. Exhaling, extend the thighbones away from your body and let gravity bring your left knee down towards your right ankle. Lift the pit of your belly as you inhale. Hold for 9 breaths and then repeat on the left side.
6. Eka Pada Supta Virasana
Extension - Opens quadriceps and hip flexors
Start by sitting in Virasana. If you have knee pain, sit on a block. Release the left leg from the pose and place your left foot on the floor with the inner edge of the foot against the right knee. Begin to walk your hands behind you until you feel a stretch in your right thigh. To deepen the stretch, come down onto your elbows. Exhaling, extend through the top of your right thigh and press the knee towards the floor. Keep your left leg at your midline. Inhaling, lift the pit of your belly and keep your spine in a neutral position. Hold for 3-9 breaths and then switch sides. The full pose is done without props lying down on the floor.
Have alignment or modifications questions? Shoot me an email! I am also available for 60 Minute Private Sessions to teach you the full sequence with the modifications specific to you. We'll take a deep dive into the series and identify where you hold tension, answer any questions you may have, and work to balance your hips.