Yoga poses are meant to be “prana pumps” because the ultimate purpose of asana is to move the life force (prana) into different parts of the human system via the energy channels (nadis), using breath as a vehicle. For the energy to flow freely, we need to position the body in a way that creates organic, open energy lines; otherwise, we will end up with the effect of “kinking the hose” (just like you do when you kink the garden hose – it stops the flow). Side bending postures are excellent for stretching and strengthening the sides of the body, for creating space within the body, and for moving the energy throughout the system.
There is also a particular group of poses within the side-bending category that is useful for creating a sense of spaciousness within your pelvis and inner thighs while strengthening the outer hips. Those poses are collectively known as “pelvic-opening poses.” These are the poses where one or both legs are abducted (moved away from the body) and rotated outward. Pelvic-opening poses stretch the structures of the pelvis, groin, inner thigh, and perineal area while strengthening the muscles on the opposite side (hip abductors and rotators) to restore balance to the adductor/abductor relationship. They also help you feel more spacious, strong, and free.
The two practices below explore the side-bending poses and the pelvic-opening poses. Please give them a try and let me know how it feels!
Bend sideways to improve energy flow
In this short practice, we use side bends to alternatively strengthen and stretch the lateral structures of the body. We also focus on expanding from the center out into the periphery to create a sense of spaciousness and “unkink” the energy lines. We support the flow of energy and the sense of openness with a slight hold after inhalation and Vyana Vayu mudra.
P.S. This practice features several poses done on your knees; if your knees are sensitive, it would be wise to either place additional padding (like a blanket) under them or skip this practice altogether.
Strengthen your hips and create a sense of spaciousness
In this short practice, we work with progressively more challenging pelvic-opening poses to strengthen your hips and facilitate the feeling of spaciousness throughout the entire body. We use Vittam mudra to facilitate the free flow of vital energy and use your breath as a vehicle that moves that energy throughout the entire body.
This is a pretty strong practice, so you might need a block and or a strap to accommodate yourself in some poses.
Attention: Please keep in mind that these types of poses are not for everyone. If you have a history of trauma in your pelvic area, pelvic-opening poses might be triggering or uncomfortable for you. Please use caution and err on the side of safety.
All practices are available on the Home Yoga Practice App.