Leg Over Head Preparation
Access Deeper Hip Opening
LEG OVER HEAD PREPARATION
Looking at a posture like Leg Over Head Pose, you might think that this extreme hip opener is completely off the table in terms of incorporating it into your yoga practice. Don’t turn away from it just yet. As always, it’s the preparation you need to place on a pedestal. Leg Over Head preparation is potentially the key that will unlock your access to this and other hip-opening postures.
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CHASING THE POSTURE
Let’s be clear that accessing postures is a nice outcome, but it’s the journey of self discovery along the way that is the true gift. Leg Over Head Pose, even the preparation if you will, can look quite intimidating. It might be a pose you completely reject and turn away from, or it might become a posture you choose to pursue. If you choose the latter, it’s important to understand that “chasing” the posture is not the answer. It’s an extreme posture, so taking your time through the process, unfolding your individual needs, and allowing yourself to be patient with all that’s required is the best approach.
Relentlessly chasing the posture may take you further away from feeling the benefits it has to offer. A healthy amount of discernment regarding when to push forward and when to pull back will provide a more positive experience.
WATCH THE VIDEO: LEG OVER HEAD PREPARATION
RESTRICTION OF THE HIPS
Because so many parts of the hip play an active role in its execution, Leg Over Head preparation is an excellent posture to include in your practice when restriction/tightness of the hips is an issue. The muscles that need to be lengthened are primarily the hamstrings, adductors, and outer hips. The pose also requires extreme hip flexion and rotation.
“Restricted hip mobility has shown a strong correlation with various pathologies of the hip, lumbar spine, and lower extremities. Restricted mobility can consequently have deleterious effects not only at the involved joint but throughout the entire kinetic chain.”
Reiman MP, Matheson JW. Restricted hip mobility: clinical suggestions for self-mobilization and muscle re-education. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Oct;8(5):729-40. PMID: 24175151; PMCID: PMC3811738.
Limited hip mobility leaves the door open for potential injury. This may be expressed as back pain, pelvic instability, everyday and/or athletic performance hindrance, and more. Focusing on benefits such as increased range of motion, better alignment, and increased flexibility will steer you in a positive direction.
LEG OVER HEAD PREPARATION STEP BY STEP
Level I Preparation
(on the left side)
- Get into Lizard position
- Place 1 or 2 block(s) under your left foot
- Move back and up with hips
- Take your left arm underneath your left leg and grab your ankle or the block with your hand
- Place your forehead on a block (try 3rd or highest height of the block)
Along with the setup of the posture, it’s the following 3 actions that promote increased flexibility and range of motion in hips:
- Pull your front heel down and back
- Widen left buttock out to the left
- Squeeze front shin in
Activating these muscles until you feel like there is no more stretch sensation left is the signal that it may be ok to explore going deeper into the posture. In these instances, going slowly in order to stay safe will increase compliance of the tissues, making the goal of increased hip mobility a reality.
Matt also suggests that you go several rounds on each side to really prepare. Adding in a little gentle movement within the posture, to become aware of the sensations, can also be extremely helpful.
ADDITIONAL ACTIONS FOR DEEPER HIP OPENING
In order to take your experience even further, Matt recommends some additional actions:
- Your back leg can maneuver around in order to accommodate the front leg; maybe the back knee more in line with the left knee will allow for movement back for a deeper hamstring stretch. It’s important to be aware of the sensations in the knee. If your front knee feels off, then back off of the straightening
- Pressing the front foot forward activates the quadriceps
- Pressing hamstrings and sit bones apart might give more range of motion (although pressing the heel down and back are the main actions)
Explore one action at a time so as not to be overwhelmed with all of the possibilities. This approach also allows you to come into a fuller understanding of how each action feels in your own body.
Sensations may be different within a given practice, which is why moving mindfully is essential.
HIPS & HAMSTRINGS
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- Release tension of hips and back
- Sensation-based practices
- Unlock and strengthen major muscle groups
- Active, passive, and isometric stretching
- Improve mobility and stability
- So much more!
UNRAVEL YOUR POTENTIAL
Leg Over Head preparation does not have to be intimidating. It’s a posture you can get excited about because there are so many techniques and variations to explore. Turn towards what you initially may have wanted to resist. You may surprise yourself with the breakthrough that’s on the other side.
Register for Matt’s upcoming Hip Mobility immersion in order to unravel your potential.
See you on the mat!
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Article by Trish Curling
Video Extracted From: Hips & Hamstrings
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