This is one of the best poses for opening the hips. Chiropractors and Physical Therapists recommend patients do this Yoga pose. It helps with sciatic nerve issues if the piriformis is compressing the sciatic nerve due to a tight piriformis.
To begin lye on your back with bent knees and the soles of the feet on the floor hip distance apart. Drop the right knee open, like opening a book and take the ankle and place it just above the opposite knee. Either use a strap around the back of the left knee, grab the back of the left thigh or grab the left shin. On your next exhalation bring the legs toward the chest and hold. Keep the shoulders on the floor as well as the head with the chin even with the forehead or slightly below it. Use a blanket under the head if the neck is hyperextending.
The knee is designed for forward and backward movement not side to side. You want to respect the knee not allowing any discomfort or pain when opening the hip, placing the ankle above the knee or pulling the legs closer to the chest. If the hips are to tight to pull the legs up with the hands or a strap you can place a Yoga block or some other prop under the left foot to raise the leg only a few inches off the floor to gently open the hip. Also, flex the feet so the toes are pointing toward the knees and the heel away from the ankle making it safer for the knee when opening the hip. You want to rotate the leg open from the hip joint NOT THE KNEE joint.
Hold at least 20 seconds per side, if comfortable hold longer working up to 60 seconds. See last paragraph below in blue on how long to hold poses.
Benefits: Eases back pain, improves circulation in the hip and pelvic region, releases tension. A lot of time people with knee pain have tight hips and by loosening the hips the pain in the knee goes away. When you have open and flexible hips, it allows for smooth forward movement in lifting the leg when walking. Many older adults shuffle while walking because they are not able to lift their legs due to tight hips.
Spending just a few minutes a day doing some hip openers will help keep the hips open allowing ease of mobility in the hips. Also, see the seated version of # 4 Hip Opener.
All poses should be a No Pain No Pain practice and avoid having discomfort. How long to hold the pose: If pain is above a 5 on a pain scale of 0-10, then only hold the pose 10-15 seconds, you can repeat this multiple times. If your pain level is 5 or lower you can hold the pose 30 seconds to 1 minute. Listen to your body and make adjustments as needed. Explanation: If you’re pain level is above a 5 then the muscles are actually tightening to protect themselves, so you will no longer be stretching. This is why you should come in and out of the pose multiple times in order to get a stretch with pain level above a 5.
Happy & Healthy,