Saturday, January 19, 2013

Two in one stretch

One of the Alignment Yoga pre-yoga foundation exercises is the psaos wake-up, using either an elastic band or a yoga strap to keep the surface hip flexor (Sartorius) quieted while performing the exercise (see the pictures or link to the psoas wake-up video).  But there's another use for the band or strap while doing the Supta Padangusthasana I stretch from my previous post.

Ideally you might have a partner to hold a yoga strap at the hip crease, but if not, having the elastic band in place can provide at least some degree of benefit, while performing the stretch at the same time.
Elastic strap and yoga strap with tennis ball
I like to do this stretch after a bike ride (or a series of Sun Salutations) to make sure the muscles are warmed up. Here's the setup:
  • Place the elastic band over the left heal and (while lying back) raise your right knee to a 90 degree angle and stretch the band over the right knee and all the way down to the right hip crease (just as if you were going to do the psoas wake-up).
  • Next extend the right leg upward with yoga strap (ideally the modified strap, also from the previous post) placed at the transverse arch.
  • Now gently pull back and slightly down on the strap over the foot, till you feel a good stretch in the hamstring (but not to the point of pain). Remember to breath and hold the stretch for ~30-45 seconds.
  • Release and repeat on the other leg, switching the band and strap to the opposite leg.
Supta Padangusthasana I with elastic band and strap
So you might ask - What's the benefit of the doing both at the same time? By adding the tension from a strap or elastic band, the hip is drawn down and away from the abdomen, adding space for greater hip mobility and flexion.

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