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Tag Archives: hip flexor openers

Essential Sequence: Fold into Lotus Pose

Lotus Pose (Padmasana) is one you were likely familiar with before you ever set foot in a yoga studio. Surely you’d seen sculptures of Siddartha or photographs of Indian sadhus with their legs tightly folded together in a pretzel shape. It’s a pose that’s associated with serene states of meditation — and the shape of the pose really does encourage quiet.

Perhaps the tranquil look of the pose is what makes us all pine for it. But make no mistake — it’s not to be attempted lightly. It requires an enormous amount of flexibility in the hip joint and if your body just doesn’t “go there,” you risk hurting your knees.

In the meantime, you can get many benefits with a sequence that prepares you for Lotus. And if your body is ready to fold into the pose, you will know. (Trust me on this.) There will be no knee pain, no stress, no sense of prying or leveraging or forcing. Instead, it will feel like you are folding yourself into the pose.

Forcing your body into Lotus Pose is not worth it in the long run. Pain in your knees or your hips is a sign to back off. Got it? Good.

Most students make the same mistake when they open their hips for Lotus Pose: They focus on stretching the outer hips but forget to open the other muscle groups that make up the hip joint. While the outer hips usually need plenty of help, the key to freedom and balance in your hips is working with all the muscle groups that affect the joint, not just your external rotators. I can’t promise you a Lotus, but practicing the following sequence will make your hips be happier, healthier, and more supple as you work toward it.

If you want to make this sequence a stronger, sweatier flow practice, feel free to practice several Sun Salutations first. You can also add standing poses, arm balances, and inversions to increase the intensity of this practice.

If you’re in need of a quieter, more contemplative practice, you can finish with seated meditation or pranayama.

Hold each pose in the sequence for at least 5 breaths and be sure to practice both sides before attempting Lotus Pose.

Want to practice this sequence at home? When you sign up for our newsletter, we’ll send you a FREE, printer-friendly download to keep.

Padmasana or Lotus Pose Sequence Yoga | Padmasana Pose Sequence | Jason Crandell Vinyasa Yoga Method | JasonYoga.com

{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

If you want to learn more about how to create great yoga sequences, I encourage you to check out my online course, The Art of Yoga Sequencing. And, as always, please sign up for my mailing list if you want to get a monthly reminder when new sequences go up.

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Essential Sequence: Open into Hanumanasana

Before we get to the post, a quick, shameless plug for my upcoming trainings. You can join me live at my 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in San Francisco, London, or Hong Kong. I also have three separate online teacher trainings, focusing on arm balances & inversions, sequencing, or anatomy.

Do you remember sliding easily into Hanumanasana (which you likely called “the splits”) when you were a kid? If you don’t, not to worry — I don’t either! It’s a pose that can still give me a challenge depending on the day, but over many years of practice, I’ve learned to find a safe, comfortable, and exhilarating place for my body to land.

When you first attempt Hanumanasana, you might focus a lot on your front leg and how tight it feels. You might think you need to spend exorbitant amounts of time stretching, stretching, stretching your hamstrings. But Hanumansana requires flexibility in both the front and back legs. The front leg requires hamstring suppleness, and the back leg requires openness in the hip flexors. When you can find a balance stretched between the front and back legs in Hanumanasana, you’ll find a balanced pose.

I always tell students that it doesn’t matter if your pelvis touches the floor in this pose — in fact, it doesn’t matter if your pelvis is miles away from the floor! Instead of jamming your body toward the floor (a recipe for back pain and other miseries), try to find a level pelvis, where you’re not tucking or overarching your lower back. Support yourself with props as you do this — you can stack blocks or a bolster or couch cushions underneath your pelvis for support. And don’t forget to use your leg muscles to support your endeavor — hug the inner thighs in toward each other and press your legs down into the floor to help you lift the pelvis and engage your hamstrings. It may seem counterintuitive to use your muscles while you’re stretching, but it will help keep your joints and the pose more supported.

Have fun and think of embodying the spirit of the pose’s namesake, the Hindu monkey God Hanuman as you lift your arms and breathe deeply in the pose.

To learn how to create essential sequences of your own, I encourage you to check out my e-course, The Art of Yoga Sequencing. And, as always, please sign up for my mailing list if you want to get a monthly reminder when new sequences go up. Have fun practicing!

Hanumanasana Yoga Sequence

Want to practice this sequence at home? When you sign up for our newsletter, we’ll send you FREE print-friendly PDF download for you to keep.

{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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Essential Sequence: Ease into Urdhva Dhanurasana

Before we get to the post, a quick, shameless plug for my upcoming trainings. You can join me live at my 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in San Francisco, London, or Hong Kong. I also have three separate online teacher trainings, focusing on arm balances & inversions, sequencing, or anatomy.

Urdhva Dhanurasana, aka Upward-Bow or Wheel Pose or simply “Backbend,” is an iconic pose in the yoga canon. Visually it represents the acrobatic flexibility that so many of us long for when we first begin the yoga practice. But too often the feeling of the pose doesn’t match that open, soaring look.

My first piece of advice when practicing Urdhva Dhanurasana is to focus on creating even sensations throughout your whole body when you do the pose. Instead of focusing on going deep, focus on creating evenness. When you practice this way, not only will the pose feel a whole lot better, you’ll be more apt to open the places that need it and derive the overall benefits of backbending! (An added benefit is that you potentially head off injuries because you’re not pushing past your edge).

This month’s sequence prepares you for Wheel Pose by opening the shoulders and upper back as well as the front sheath of the body — specifically the quadriceps and hip flexors. It also builds heat in the whole body. All of this should help you feel more ease, more space, more joy in your backbend.

There’s so much more to say about sequencing for backbends. If you want to find out more, I encourage you to check out my e-course, The Art of Yoga Sequencing. And, as always, please sign up for my mailing list if you want to get a monthly reminder when new sequences go up. Have fun practicing!

Quick side note: In the interest of keeping the sequence as easy-to-read as possible, we’ve chosen to write the poses out in English instead of Sanskrit this month.
Urdhva Dhanurasana Sequence | Wheel Pose | Jason Crandell Yoga Method
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{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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