The "Practice" posts are about progress and learning. The pictures and analysis of my own practice help me find areas that need improvement.
Here is the progression I usually follow as I do the hip opening at the end of the standing series.
First I do one set of Upward Tree with my foot plugged into the inside of my standing leg and my arms stretched overhead. This pose is a lovely way to start the Tree series with its power, its centered nature, and its balanced, upward energy.
Next I switch to Half Lotus Tree with my foot turned forward and held in front of my standing hip. I always hold my foot, I don't bring my second hand to my chest. I find that holding my foot and pulling up on it enables my hip to open and my alignment to develop. If I let my foot go, it will slip down a bit when I start pulling my leg down and back with the muscles on the back of my leg. Notice the tight grip I have on my foot and the engaged arm pulling up. Also, as I pull my leg back, my abs and pelvis engage to keep my hips from going along for the ride. This is how I get the stretch in the hip. I do several sets of Half Lotus Tree. Usually 5 or 6 on each side, never fewer than 3.
Then I move on to Toe Stand. This pose reveals tightness and imbalance quickly. With my right leg up, my hip is more open so my alignment is much better. Knees even, spine straight, shoulders square. But I struggle with the balance on this side. I think it is weakness in my left foot.
Left leg up. My left hip isn't as open, and the chain reaction of wonky alignment is apparent. Left knee is significantly higher than the right, spine is curved a bit as my hips sway back to avoid the stretch, and right shoulder comes way forward for balance. Even though I can balance on this side, the alignment is not as good as the other side.
Then comes Short Man. My right hip is much more open, so the alignment with right knee down is pretty good. I could still push my hips forward more, but generally good. Left hip is tight, so when my left knee is down you can see my hip backing away from the rotation much like in Toe Stand. It causes my whole upper body to hunch forward. You can even see it in my head and shoulders as they hunch forward. This side needs to open up a lot.
All in all, I can easily spend 30 minutes or more on these 4 poses. They are so instrumental in opening the rotation of the hips.
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga