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Static stretching, where you force and hold a stretch for a specific time or count can actually work against the release of our fascia—the connective tissue throughout our bodies. If the fascia becomes rigid, it will tighten around our muscles and limit mobility. In this sequence, we will focus on movement and breathing to assist our stretching. And we will utilize props to support our body and protect our joints from overstrain, allowing for greater ease and release.
Foam Rolling The IT Band: The IT band is a collection of fibers on the outside of your hips, legs, and knees. It is important to support the IT band as its flexibility can prevent tightness in other areas of the body such as the low back. Grab a foam roller or tennis ball and lie on one side, resting your forearm. Place one leg on the foam roller. The other leg can be bent in front or behind you to provide support as you roll out your IT band. Feel free to let your IT band rest for a few breaths on the roller. Switch sides and roll out your IT band on the other side.
Glute Massage With Yoga Blocks: Grab two yoga blocks. Lie on your back and bend your knees as if you are about to go into bridge pose. The blocks will be placed underneath your glutes (buttocks) in an arrow shape. Rest your glutes on the edges of the blocks. You can rock your hips side to side to massage your glutes, or just rest on the edges of the blocks allowing your natural weight to press into the blocks.
Bridge With Yoga Blocks: This will stretch the hip flexors. Place one block underneath your sacrum while in bridge position. Extend one leg forward, the other bent at the knee, and rest there for 10 breaths. Switch legs, extending the opposite leg forward and bending the previously extended leg. If you do not feel a lengthening along your hip flexor, try adjusting the height of your block.
Bridge With Threaded Leg: Remain in bridge position with your yoga block. Bend your extended leg and thread it underneath the knee of your other bent leg. Let the knee of the threaded leg wing out to the side. The target area of this pose is the quad and inner thigh. Relax into the stretch, taking 10 breaths. Then switch sides and repeat.
Sphinx With Diamond Legs: To transition from bridge, remove the block from underneath you and roll onto your belly. Press up into Niravalasana, or sphinx pose, placing your forearms underneath you. Press your hands down and pull your chest forward. If you want to support your head, you can lower your forehead onto a block set tall. Bend your legs and place your feet together, creating a diamond shape opening with your legs. Breathe in this position for 10 breaths for myofascial release in the abdomen.
Straddle Side Stretch With Block: Come up to a seated position and extend your legs out in a V shape or straddle. For extra support of your low back, pace a folded blanket underneath your sit bones and rock your pelvis forward. Place a block by your right knee. On an inhale lift your left arm toward the sky and then stretch toward the right side, resting your elbow on the block. Breathe here for 10 cycles. Then switch sides and repeat.
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See Also: The Simple Art of Mindful Walking
Yoga Journal’s 2021 Live Be Yoga Experience presented by NOW includes video classes, exclusive content, and special offerings from the Live Be Yoga sponsors: Cetus, JointFlex, NOW Essential Oils and Supplements, Visit Sun Valley, and Zebra CBD. This year our intention is to SPARK JOY through movement, mindfulness, rest, gratitude, and kindness. Check out other content at 2021 Live Be Yoga Experience and stay connected with us @livebeyoga.