This week’s yoga pose of the week is thread the needle, also known as figure 4 pose. It is one of the best hip stretches, particularly for the piriformis muscle. It is more accessible than some other hip openers, and can be modified for all levels.
Tight hips are extremely common, especially for people who sit at a desk all day. It is important to stretch the hips often, and may even help release tension in other areas of the body like the low back and knees.
- Begin laying on your back, bend your knees to place the soles of your feet hip width apart
- Next, extend your right leg to the ceiling, flexing your right foot
- Then, cross your right ankle over your left thigh
- Press away on your right thigh. If this feels intense enough on your right hip, stay here.
- If you’d like to deepen the intensity, reach through the space you’ve created between your legs and clasp your hands around your left thigh. Lift your left foot off the ground. Hug the left thigh in until you get to your desired intensity.
- Try to keep your tailbone and shoulder blades still resting on the ground, rather than rounding the back.
- Make sure you breathe deeply.
- Hold this pose for 1-5 minutes.
- Finally, to come out of the pose, lower the left foot to the ground and unhook your right ankle. Lower both feet flat down.
- Make sure to do both sides.
- To sync breath with movement, and get the most out of this stretch, think of hugging your thigh in a bit closer each time you exhale.
- Keep your foot that is crossed over flexed to protect your right knee. (Flexed = toes pointing up towards your knee)
- Start off slow. You don’t want to force this stretch. This can cause more pain than good. Aim for a gentle stretching sensation and slowly deepen as you go. If you feel pain, pull away and go back to the modified version.
Enjoy this stretch! If you have any requests for areas of the body you’d like to focus on in future weeks, leave a comment below!