Stretch on Out
So how exactly do you go about loosening these troublemakers? Seated twists such as Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) and its variations can be excellent tools. To try it, sit with your left leg bent on the floor, either sitting on the foot in the traditional pose or, if that's not possible for you, placing the left foot just to the outside of the right hip. Then cross the right leg over the left, with the sole of the right foot on the floor outside the left thigh. Sit tall (on folded blankets as needed) and rotate your spine to the right as you draw the right knee toward the left armpit. Wrap the left elbow around the right knee, or even hook it on the outside of the knee, and use that leverage to pull the left chest up and toward the knee. In this position, the right hip is flexed, relatively internally rotated, and drawn in toward the midline rather than horizontally abducting. This pose isolates the posterior hip muscles, and they have no choice but to lengthen and to stretch. Repeat on the other side, crossing the right leg with the left foot.
You can also practice a couple of variations lying on your back. When you work supine, it's easier to stay in the pose without struggling to sit upright, so you can experience a long, deep, relaxing stretch.
Start by lying on your back and draw the right knee up and across your body until you feel the stretch in the back of the right hip. Or, from the start position, bend your knees and cross your right knee over the left. Lift the left foot off the ground and hold the left knee with your right hand, pulling it toward your chest. To deepen the stretch, hold the right ankle with your left hand and pull gently until you stretch the back of the right hip. Repeat the stretch on the other side.!--page-->