Living with Harmony ~ A Blog for your Mind & Body


Deep Hip Openers with Pilates Ball

Posted in How-To,Pilates,Stability Ball / Yoga Ball by Harmony on November 25, 2010

The second in two posts teaching us how to use a Stability Ball/Pilates ball to open our hips and stretch our legs.  Check out our selection of Pilates Balls and be sure to select the right size for your height.

Deep Hip Openings with the Stability Ball

Created Feb 3 2009 – 14:20

What It Is:
In my last post, we explored some leg and hip openings using the stability ball. Today we are going to delve into the hips a bit deeper. You want to be warm before going into these so take a brisk walk, for example, and start with some of the lighter stretches from the last article—hamstring, inner thigh and IT band stretch, PSOAS stretch and quadricep stretch. Also remember the following precautions when going into your stretches:

  • Stretching under your limit is much better than over your limit. Make each stretch fit your body type and limit. In other words, DO NOT ever force a stretch!
  • Never bounce into a stretch or jerk out of a stretch.
  • Be aware of your alignment as you stretch.
  • Always use tension free, full breaths to keep tension out of other parts of the body and to help you ease deeper into the pose.

Exercise: Frog Stretch
This pose stretches into the hips and helps to lengthen and open the groin muscles. The muscles of the groin pull the upper inner thighs together. These muscles are often tight and sometimes torn if not warmed up or properly stretched.

  • Lie on the mat on your back with the stability ball at your feet.
  • Bring the feet onto the stability ball.
  • Place the soles of the feet together and allow them to rest on the ball.
  • Let the knees open to the sides of the room in a frog position.
  • You may place the hands on the inner thighs to encourage the downward direction but do not force the knees and legs down.
  • Using your breath, time in the pose and gravity will encourage the legs to soften and open.
  • To go deeper you may inch the feet a bit closer to the groin area, closing the diamond shape a bit.
  • Remember, you can stay in the stretch as log as you like. Just make sure everything is staying relaxed and the breath is flowing.

Exercise: Pigeon with the Ball
Ease into this stretch carefully. If you feel this stretch in the kneecap come out of it.

  • Start on all fours on your mat with the stability ball in front of you.
  • Bring the right shin forward so it is parallel to the front of your mat. Now most of us will not be able to hold this parallel position. This is very advanced and indicates that you have very open hips. If you are not able to hold this scoot the foot towards the groin area.
  • The back left leg should be long and the front of the hip should be facing the floor.
  • You can also place a folded towel or blanket under the right buttock to help square the hips and ease the tension.
  • Place the hands on the stability ball and lift the eyes and sternum upwards as the ball comes into you.
  • Hold here and cycle the breath.
  • Push the ball out and allow the forehead to rest on the ball.
  • Hold here and cycle the breath.
  • Again, pull the ball back into you, arch the back and lift the eyes and sternum to the ceiling.
  • Hold here and cycle the breath.
  • Push the ball out so the arms are long.
  • Allow the head to go in between the arms and (if possible) for the forehead to rest on the mat. This will help to open the chest and underarm area.
  • Hold here and cycle the breath.
  • Keep the left hand on the ball, rotate the torso as you reach the right arm back.
  • Look towards the right hand.
  • Try to keep the pelvis square to the front wall.
  • Hold here and cycle the breath.
  • Change sides.

Exercise: Backbend Into a Squat
Squatting is one of the best poses we can do to open the hips, strengthen and open the pelvic floor and create an overall flexibility in the lower body. Squatting also helps to reverse the tightness acquired from to much sitting in chairs and driving. If you have any neck issues or injuries do not attempt the backbend part of this exercise.

  • Start seated on your stability ball with a mat under you and the ball.
  • Slowly, walk your feet out one at a time until your head and shoulders are supported on the stability ball and the knees are aligned over the ankles.
  • If you have neck issues, hold this position.
  • If you wish to go further into the pose, stretch the legs long, reach the arms behind you and extend the head back.
  • Hold here for a few moments enjoying the opening in the front of the body. Let the breath flow freely while you hold this pose.
  • To come into the squat position, slide forward on the ball bending the knees, planting the feet and bringing the torso into an upright position.
  • Your hands can be by your side helping you to balance or in prayer position in front of the chest.
  • Make sure the sticky mat (yoga mat) is underneath the ball and your feet for safety.
  • Hold the squat for 10 to 20 seconds and then push back into the backbend over the ball.
  • You can alternate between the squat and the backbend a few times.
  • When you are ready to come out of it, go into the backbend pose, roll the chin to the chest and start to walk the feet in towards the ball one at a time until you are sitting on top of your ball.
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