The inner and outer thighs are the subject of our weekly yoga session. As you can see in the Vitruvian Man image, the legs have the ability to move away from the center (abduction) and towards the center (adduction). Some of the muscles responsible for these movements are also responsible for internal and external rotation of the thighs with the hip sockets. They are all important for the stability of our bodies in a standing position and it is important to balance strength and flexibility to ensure healthy range of motion for the hip.
Reclining Vinyasa I
Begin lying on the back with the legs straight and arms extended over the head, take an inhale to prepare.
Exhale and draw the right knee into the chest, holding it with the right hand. Inhale draw the right knee out to the right side with the right hand, left hand in cactus on the floor. Exhale and cross the right knee over to the left side of the body with the left hand, right hand in cactus on the floor. Inhale back to the center and extend the right leg up toward the ceiling, holding behind thigh with the clasped hands. Exhale draw the right knee to the chest. Inhale extend the leg to the floor and the arms overhead. Exhale and repeat the entire sequence with left leg.
Reclining Vinyasa II
Lie on the back with the legs extended. Exhale and draw both knees into the chest being careful not to arch the back as you do so. Inhale and draw the knees apart, exhale and draw the knees back together. Inhale lean the knees to the right but not all the way to the floor, exhale contract the belly and bring the knees back to the center. Inhale lean the knees to the left, exhale contract the belly and bring the knees back to the center. Inhale extend the legs straight up towards the ceiling as you raise the arms overhead, exhale and draw the knees to the chest. Inhale and lengthen the legs to the floor as you raise arms overhead. Repeat up to 5 times with the breath.
Lie on the back with a folded blanket under the sacrum. Draw the wide knees into the chest and hold behind the knees, keeping the ankles flexed. Inhale and straighten one leg out to the side, exhale and bend that leg. Repeat alternating sides for about a minute.
Strap Supported Wide Leg Stretch
Lie on the back with a folded blanket under the sacrum. Bring knees into chest and strap both arches of the feet. Extend legs towards ceiling and straddle the legs on the inhale using the strap to keep legs from going too far apart. Exhale pull down on ends of strap and draw legs together. Repeat up to 10 times with the breath.
Sit with left leg externally rotated, right leg internally rotated with right toes in line with left knee. Turn the torso to the left and line up the navel to the left knee. Walk hands out on either side of left knee. Lay forward supporting on arms on floor, rest head on hands or blocks.
Hold for 10-20 breaths.
Lunge to Parsvotannasana (Intense Stretch of the West Side of Body)
Begin on all fours and bring left foot between hands. Inhale sweep arms forward and up overhead pressing pelvis forward. Exhale and touch floor on either side of foot as you lift left knee off floor and straighten both legs. You may also use blocks under the hands if it is difficult to reach the floor.
Repeat to both sides 5 times with the breath.
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Stand with feet hips-width apart. Engage legs and bear weight on left leg only. Draw right foot onto calf or inner thigh (do not press on side of knee). Press foot against leg and leg against foot. Draw belly in and release tail bone towards floor. Inhale and draw arms overhead without gripping shoulders.
Hold as long as you can balance with comfort, release and change sides.
Krounchasana (Heron Pose)
Sit on a block with the left leg in Virasana and the right foot on the floor. If you cannot sit in Virasana, sit cross-legged with the left leg. Either wrap strap around sole of foot or hold sole of foot with both hands. Inhale open chest and lean back taking left foot off floor and bringing left knee to chest. Exhale and extend the left leg straight.
Hold 10-20 breaths then release and change sides.
Anantasana (Vishnu's Couch)
Lie on the right side with knees slightly bent. Draw left knee into the chest and strap foot then straightening the leg towards the ceiling keeping the leg externally rotated. You can hold the head with the right hand. Also try to straighten the bottom leg and balance on the side body. Hold for up to 2 minutes, then release and change sides.
Supta Upavista Konasana (Reclining Wide Legged Forward Bend)
Lie on the back with the buttocks about 6 inches from the wall. Support the legs in a straddle position on the seat of two chairs with blankets folded over the seats for cushion. Rest for up to 10 minutes.
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I attend Cheryl's class regularly and feel that my practice has improved immensely over the past few years due to her expert coaching. Her teaching style is clear and compassionate and her previous experience in teaching adults is evident in her organized approach and easy to understand instructions. I also appreciate that Cheryl not only teaches us about how to correctly position ourselves, but also touches on many aspects of yoga philosophy, which in turn has deepened my personal practice and heightened my awareness of the connection between mind and body, breath and relaxation.