By Jennifer Dixon MBA ERYT 500 and Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher
When thinking about getting your practice upside down, you may not initially think about how warm your hips are, BUT, I want to propose to you that open hips and hamstrings can definitely help you get upside down. In today’s post, we are going to explore hip opening poses that can help you to get upside down confidently, and quickly.
First of all, even if you NEVER EVER get your “Pincha” that’s totally ok. Whether or not you can manage to hold an inversion does not make you a “good yogi”. What makes you a good “yogi” is your practice—the dedication to come back to your mat day in and day out. Sometimes that mat time is just breathing/meditation, sometimes it’s a sweat soaked laughter filled hour (+) “date” with yourself where you push limits, try, fail, succeed, and keep practicing. The actual example of the pose on your body—that’s not what you’re going for. You’re going for the peace that you get when you stop everything else –or at least stop paying attention to everything else, and you enjoy that time moving, connecting with your breath.
That’s why this post will be great whether you want to do Pincha Mayurasana or whether you just want to get a little more space in your hips. I will go over my
Three Favorite Hip Openers that will help you float into Pincha.
- Warrior 1 or Crescent Lunge — You may be thinking –whoa, what, really? Warrior 1 is a hip opener? I’m gonna channel my best Minnesota accent and say, “you betcha!” Warrior 1 is one of my favorite hip openers, especially for Pincha because it’s building heat –which you need to have your muscles up and ready to work, it builds body awareness because—well, it’s a balance challenge if you have that heel to heel alignment—even if you don’t for some people, and finally because that rear leg—the front of that hip—whoa nelly it starts to talk when you’re in Warrior 1—especially if you have a super deep bend in the front leg. That’s why I love warming up my yoga practice with some Sun Salutation As and Bs. The Chairs and Warrior 1s in Sun B are integral to your body being strong enough and coordinated enough to hold your Forearm stand.
- Triangle Pose – This pose is AWESOME at opening the back hip, as you try to lengthen the back leg out and back behind you, while at the same time you try to stack the hips on top of each other vertically. (think you’re trying to fit between two panes of glass…Or, if you’re a local Chattanooga, pretend you’re going through Rock City’s Fat Man Squeeze, you have to make yourself as narrow as possible, so you are really stretching out the psoas/hip flexor area. This pose has the added benefit of stretching your hamstrings as well, which can help as you’ll see in a future blog post!
- Dragon Pose – This pose is a little less “active” in terms of you’re not having to use your big leg muscles to hold you up like you are in Warrior and Crescent lunge—HOWEVER, this pose is SUPER active for those hips as they are asked to entertain a deep stretch, usually over an extended period of time. Dragon Pose can be made more active if you leave your back knee off the mat, so almost like a very low crescent lunge with your hands on the mat to get you as low as your hips can take.
Now, once you are nice and warmed up, you know by one of our AWESOME free classes available on our
Community, I invite you to try some of the upper body strength building exercises as described in this blog post.
Or, if you just want to get the experience of being upside down, go ahead and go up to a wall and try kicking
yourself up. The more open your hips are, the higher you can raise one leg, the higher it is raised up, the more
weight you can have starting out centered over the shoulders (because your hips start out higher.) If your hips
are stacked on top of or nearly so your shoulders, you’ll feel this magical “weightless” moment where things just
seem to “want” to go up.
Now, if holding that pose is something that’s challenging, I invite you to try some of the Upper Body
strengthening sequences as well as ab drills. Both upper body strength and core strength are necessary to hold
your body upright in an inverted position.
How’d it go? This is a HARD pose. It took me MANY MANY years to get—and on “off” days it’s still not my
favorite. Basically, anything upside down is something I generally try to avoid, so take your time, enjoy the
process, enjoy the practice, laugh –a LOT—and just keep practicing!
If you loved this tutorial, I invite you to check out the Thrive Online HIT Yogis community. It’s a fitness inspired
Yoga community combining your favorite practice (yoga) with traditional strength training and conditioning. You
will experience a super effective, low impact, high intensity training session each time you step on your mat and
you will get to share your experiences each time you join us inside the community!
If you’re located inside the city of Chattanooga, definitely swing by Thrive Yoga and Wellness. We offer over 40
classes each week (and growing) of a variety of yoga styles sure to meet your health and wellness goals.
Whether you’re brand new, having been practicing for years—whether you’re 18 or 78! Yoga is for Every BODY,
at EVERY AGE and we can help you find YOUR practice. I can’t wait to see you on the mat soon!
Did you know that Thrive Yoga and Wellness has the Chattanooga area’s ONLY modular CERTIFIED 200 hr Yoga
Teacher Training Program. It’s an AMAZING program designed around YOUR busy life and includes an entire year
of unlimited yoga to the studio! You’ll learn everything you need to become an effective yoga teacher and you’ll
have the support you need throughout the entire process. Don’t let crazy long weekend training schedules hold you back from your dream of being a yoga teacher, come train with Thrive! Check it out here.