Kneeling lunge – A 5 minute hip opening practice
A kneeling lunge to gently open the hips
This is the third stretching sequence in a series of practices which are designed to get you moving mindfully in the mornings and to release common areas of tension that we may experience in our day to day. This week we’ll look at a kneeling lunge as a means to opening the hips gently. If you’ve missed any of the previous practices you can find them by going to the following links:
Week 1: Neck and shoulder mobility
Week 2: A gentle Standing forward bend
Our intention for the kneeling lunge is to stretch into and open our hips, in particular the hip flexors which are a group of muscles bringing your legs and your torso together so that we’re able to sit, fold, and flex our bodies more easily. The problem being that if we spend a lot of time sitting these muscles will shorten, and if we are active through running, cycling, and other forms of physical exercise these muscles are also in use. So, it could be useful to direct some mindful stretching towards them every so often to help soften and release the build up of tension and effort in this part of our body.
As always the sequences that I am presenting to you are designed to be taken slowly and mindfully with the breath. Let the breath support your movement, the inhalations will favour more of an opening, or an opportunity to lengthen along your spine and expand into your upper torso, whilst the exhalations provide you with support to relax into something a little further.
As you practice bring awareness to the sensations across your hips, into your knees, thighs and feet. You may notice a sense of opening from your pubic bone upwards and discover length along your spine. Be mindful of your stability. Only stretch into a position that feels useful, you can make your way gradually with each repetition. Let your abdomen support you in the movement to avoid collapsing into your lower spine and pelvis.
Notice how you feel before you begin, during each stretch and in between each fold, and upon completion. Pay close attention to the way the breath supports and envelopes the movement.
Take the practice with me a few times and then take it on your own in silence. Add this onto the previous practices to increase the amount of time you move mindfully when you awake in the morning, or whenever you feel a sense of stiffness around your hips and upper thighs.
Kneeling lunge to gently open the hips, step by step:
- Come to stand onto your knees bent, hip distance apart with the tops of your feet relaxed on the ground behind you.
- Place a cushion or folded blanket underneath your knees for comfort if required.
- Get grounded and settle into your position, connect more evenly towards the earth.
- Notice how you feel physically and emotionally without any judgement.
- Find length in your body and from knees to the crown of your head without lifting your chin, shoulders are spacious.
- Bring your awareness to your breath in and out through your nostrils, and over time lengthen your exhalations and deepen your inhalations.
- When your breath feels steady and long, as you breathe in notice how your breastbone lifts away from your belly. As you breathe out activate your lower abdomen by drawing in your belly button lightly towards your spine. Notice the support this offers you for your lower back and pelvis.
- Bring your right knee in front of you with the foot on the ground. Place your foot in a position that is just back from your knee, your back thigh should stack itself on top of your back knee. Place your hands onto your knee, or you can rest them onto your hips.
- As you breathe in bend your front knee and stretch forwards taking your knee into a lunge position that feels stable and so that you feel a gentle stretch along the front of your left thigh and hip.
- With your exhalation guide yourself back slowly. Let your front foot support the movement and engage your lower core for additional pelvis and lower back stability.
- Continue to inhale into the lunge and exhale yourself back. Repeat 4 times.
- Then, come to stay into your lunge for 4 breaths. Explore the stretch a little further for yourself here safely. If it feels okay you may like to deepen your stretch with each exhalation. Continue to maintain a sense of stability through the lower part of your body by engaging your lower abdominal region. Inhale to expand a little further upwardly along your spine and across your chest.
- Finally, exhale to bring yourself back. Bring your knees back together and settle physically before taking the entire sequence on your left hand side.
- When you’ve taken the practice on both sides equally come back to your starting position and with your eyes closed settle your arms lightly by your sides.
- Notice any sensations you may be experiencing throughout your whole body, in particular around your hips, front of your thighs and upper chest.
- Sigh the breath out with a long, soothing exhalation and return to the flow of your natural breath.
- You may like to rest onto your back to release any unnecessary effort and allow yourself to settle more fully.
- Upon completion, pause and notice how you feel physically and emotionally.
I hope you enjoy the practice and time that you provide yourselves with to explore the more subtle experiences you may encounter. If you would like to join me for further explorations of accessible movement supported by the breath, you can do so by joining me in my online classes.
Thank you once again,
“when tensions leave, the body goes back to its original state, and balance is re-established.”
Vanda Scaravelli; Awakening the Spine.