- Lay flat on your back, legs long with head resting heavy on the mat.
- Draw your knees in toward your chest, bent, and cross your right leg over left. Reach for your ankles or feet with each hand (right hand grabs left foot, left hand grabs right foot). Gently pull the feet toward your hips as you lower the legs – still stacked in this pretzel-like set up – to the mat.
- Holding the left foot with your right hand just outside the right hip, rotate your pelvis toward the left side, coming to rest on the left hip. Your left hand is still gripping the right foot as you twist. Keep your shoulders glued to the mat and turn your head to the right.
- Stay here, or deepen the pose by extending the right leg. Kicking your right foot into the left hand and working to straighten out that right knee will bring an intense IT band stretch into this contralateral twist.
- Hold for 10 deep breaths, then slowly come back to center and hug your knees into your chest. Plant your feet on the mat, hips width apart. Windshield wiper the knees from side to side.
- Repeat steps 1 through 5, this time crossing left leg over right, twisting to the right as you look to the left.
How It Will Heal You:
Hip Pain – The best way to prevent and treat hip pain is to increase your ROM (range of motion) in all directions. If you play a sport like soccer, which involves a lot of explosive movement and running, you are particularly susceptible to hip pain. As you work into this hip-helping posture, chances are high that you’ll notice that one hip will be tighter than the other. To bring balance to the body, be sure to hold postures for 10 extra deep breaths on the side that’s talking to you. Use your breath to calm your nervous system and let the body open.
Hamstring Pulls – The vast majority of the time, hamstring pulls are a direct result of inflexible hamstrings. This big muscle group requires patience and daily attention to open up and can be really frustrating in their resistance to change. You are not going to go from barely touching your toes to Jordyn Wieber overnight. Commit to working on this posture every day and slowly but surely you’ll get the results you want and your body needs.
Knee Injuries – We all know someone that has torn their meniscus, had a knee replacement, or had some sort of debilitating knee injury. Our knees take a serious beating from all of the physical stuff we do day in and day out—not to mention the high heels some of us ladies rock to look lovely but brutalize our bodies from the tippy toes on up. The best way to prevent pain and avoid trouble is to keep the hips, IT band and hamstrings strong and flexible. Hips, IT band and hamstring mobility keeps the work in your bigger muscle groups (hamstrings and quadriceps) rather than the body’s default of looking to the place of least resistance–which is almost always the knee joint–for speed, power and agility. If you give the body freedom to move using your large muscle groups and stabilizers it will learn not to rely upon vulnerable and complex joints.
Lower Back Pain – How many of you have experienced lower back pain? I’d venture to say that anyone who sits in a chair all day has suffered through their fair share. This is also a big one for athletes. Why is that? Most often, lower back pain in athletes stems from tight hamstrings. For my fellow anatomy nerds out there, the hamstrings originate on the sitz bone–aka those little nobs deep in the flesh of your booty that us yogis balance on when doing boat core work (my favorite!). , If your hamstrings are tight they will pull down on the pelvis from the insertion point (the sitz bone) tilting it out of proper alignment and forcing your body to compensate using your lower back to remain upright. Another common reason for low back pain is underdeveloped abdominal muscles. I’m not talking just the six-pack abs (rectus abdominis) but also the deeper corset abs (transverse abdominis) that are critical for balance and stability. The simply solution to preventing and treating lower back pain is to stretch out your hammies and workout your core every day.
Foot and Ankle Issues – I can’t tell you have many times I wrenched my ankle playing soccer and field hockey as a kid, or more recently while hiking and running. Ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis are three very common foot and ankle injuries. These injuries are no fun because let’s face it, when our foundation is out of whack everything else is thrown off and dysfunctional. The answer to avoiding these frustrating beasts of burden is to strengthen the ankle, increase the flexibility of the ankle and toes and work on your balance. Not only does this require concerted effort to increase the openness in these areas but it also means more core work. Core is your key to stability, meaning you’ll be less likely to get thrown off balance and tweak something if your abdominal and back muscles are strong.