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.
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.😉
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.