That Thing I Do with My Hips

It’s a MenstroMonster kind of day, so I spent my asana practice working on releasing tension in my hips and pelvis. Not that all — or even most — endo pain is tension related, but it’s nice to be able to relieve the part that is. Since a fair number of people, not just folks with endo, tend to carry tension in their hips — and since a few IRL folks have asked me what I use for mine — I thought I’d post my favorite hip opening series.

Note: This is a personal practice, based on my physical needs, abilities, and preferences. Part or all of it may not be suitable for some readers. It’s a good idea to use your own best judgment about whether a given pose is good for you, and maybe to consult an expert — which I am not — if you’re unsure.

Woman in downward facing dog with one leg raised.

A capture I took while making the photo post for wild thing. I am not sure if this is as high as my lifted leg goes — with level hips — or if I was just more focused on the different stages of getting to wild thing. Either way, what’s important is that the Caseydog is Not Impressed.

1. Integration: Child’s Pose — Sometimes I am still and sometimes I wiggle my butt a little, feeling out my hips. I stay here long enough to figure out what I’m working with today and what my intention is for my practice.

2. Half Sun Salutes — About 2-5 of these, depending on how stiff my body feels on any given day. I definitely use them as a warm-up, rising higher and bending less in the first half salute than in whatever number is my last.

3. Sun Salutes — I generally only do 1-2 of this particular version because I add onto it quickly in ways that I still consider warm-up friendly.

4. Sun Salute with Low Lunge and Half Pyramid Vinyasa — I usually do 3-5 repetitions of the vinyasa, but I don’t hang out in either pose very long at all: half or one complete breath cycle. Really, I’m just loosening up my hips for the next sun salute.

5. The Next Sun Salute, with Low Lunge — What it says. With this round, I tend to hold the lunge for 5-10 breaths. I tend to do 1-2 of these salutes, depending on how willing my front hip flexors are.

6. Sun Salute with Warrior 1 — Again, just one of these on each side, held for 5-10 breaths because I’m getting ready to build on in my next salute.

7. Sun Salute with Devotional Warrior — I enter from warrior 1 on each side and hold for 5-10 breaths. I might do 2-3 of these if my outer hips feel tight, or just 1 if what I’m really moving toward is a chance to stretch the fronts and insides of my hips a bit more.

8. Sun Salute with Warrior 2 — Usually I ease into this pose as well, bending and straightening my front leg a few times before I hold the standing pose for several breath cycles. Most of the time, I only “need” one of this series to let my hips relax, but sometimes I repeat it just because I like it.

9. Sun Salute with Triangle — Not gonna lie. Sometimes I hang out here for a good long while, just because I love it.

10. Standing Sequence: Eagle into Half Moon — Because this is a pretty intense balance sequence for me — especially the transitions between the postures — I tend to let my balance guide me in how fast I transition and how long I stay in each pose. Usually, I’ll only enter the sequence once on each side unless I fall out of it so fast that I call a yoga do-over. 😉

11. Transition Poses: Uttanasana and Thunderbolt — Long enough in each one to feel grounded, 5-10 breaths is a good rule of thumb for me.

12. Camel — I generally do 2 rounds of this, one gentle for me, one working my edge a little more. It’s common for me to hold the first pose for ~5 breaths and the second for more like 10-12.

13. Pigeon with Maybe a Side Dish of King Pigeon — This is one of my longer-held postures. Typically, I spend 6-12 breaths in upright pigeon, 12+ breaths in prone pigeon, and 6-12 breaths bringing my back leg in at least a little in king pigeon or a modification. Generally, my back hip flexor needs that extra bit of stretch.

14. Wide Legged Seated Forward Bend — No lie, any practice where I get to do camel and then this pose makes Tori a happy camper. (So, yes, when I self-select my practice, I do this a lot.) And I’m capable of living here for minutes at a time — again, several breaths to get into the posture, and then more to let my body relax into its edge.

15. Supine Spinal Twist — My intent here is to do an easy spinal twist. I use it to decompress after the back and forward bending I’ve done this practice. I usually hang out for 5-10 breaths on a side.

16. Savasana — Sometimes I substitute legs up the wall (legs on the couch?) but not usually, as this sequence doesn’t involve a lot of bending in my low back.

My total practice time usually runs in the 50 minute range and is most affected by how much time I spend in integration or savasana.



I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

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Posted in asana, backbend, chakra work, MenstroMonster
2 comments on “That Thing I Do with My Hips
  1. stormsearch says:

    I got here from your post on the chronic pain community on LJ. I have a question; I’ve done a reasonable amount of pilates before, and have pilates- and yoga-based excercises that my physio taught me. I also used to be a dancer (pre chronic pain), so I’m very familiar with my body. But, I’ve never done any proper yoga before; on that basis, is this series of exercises reasonable for a beginner to teach themselves? (With the caveat that said beginner listens to their body and doesn’t do anything silly!) They sound pretty much ideal for dealing with some of the pain I experience, and I do at least some of them instinctively because it seems the right way to stretch (eg, the wide-legged seated forward bend is one I do after sitting too long at work).

    Aside from that, I’ve browsed your blog a bit – I’m very glad to have found your blog – your writing is useful, gripping and thought provoking, so thank you for posting in the CP community!

    • Tori says:

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’ve seen most of these asanas taught on beginner’s DVDs or video clips — so it might make sense to incorporate those into the self-teaching. The biggest caveats I’d have would be:
      — To watch the knees in the warrior poses as that tends to be the difference between a potentially injurious pose and not.
      — The eagle-to-half-moon flow may not be appropriate for beginners as a flow. It may make more sense to break these up into 2 different segments, at least during the learning process.
      — For camel (and all backbends) it’s really important to lift through the heart, avoid collapsing in the low back, and to substitute a less intense backbend if necessary. (So camel may or may not be beginner friendly right away.)
      — Also, because of the intense hip stretch and the backbendiness of it, king pigeon may not be suitable for a beginner, either. If it’s something you’re looking to move toward, there are variations with a strap one can use to work into the pose in good alignment — but I know that for me, I was practicing for years before I tried this one for myself.

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