I have noticed, as I sometimes will catch a yoga class while I’m traveling, that the trend in teaching standing poses is to avoid addressing the tightness that shows up in the hip flexors. Rather then finding what needs to open and stretch and how to get there, it is taught as though the weakness and lack of flexibility determines the limited vision of the pose.
Let’s take a look at standing postures and what they are asking of the body. In order to move deeper into standing postures it will require greater flexibility of the hips, groin, legs and feet.
Standing postures practiced with honesty and intelligence will help to realign the feet legs, and hips. They are the bread and butter of a practice. In LIGHT ON YOGA by BKS Iyengar, Standing series is in the beginning of the book. Placed there because standing postures are the poses that teach a student to be grounded in strength and flexibility. Standing Poses will increase the stability of the sacral-iliac joint (which when doing much flow yoga can become unstable) and the body is strengthened greatly. When the hips open through standing postures a dynamic rush of heat is felt from unblocking energy through the hips and the associated meridians. Hip openers are the keys that will hasten the progress of your standing postures.
After a daily practice of any standing posture you will notice a lightness of movement reflected in your walking. If practiced with the intention to bring your body into balance, one feels grace, freedom, and ease that gives a great boost of well being and confidence.
My favorite accessory posture for front facing standing postures is the Frog Pose. For postures such as the Right angle pose (virabadrasana ll), extended right angle pose (utthita parsvakonasana), triangle pose (trikonasana) Frog pose is one position that directly opens the hips and inner thighs in the way needed to increase flexibility for standing postures
To practice frog pose you can place a blanket under your knees and slide your knees wider as your body loosens up. I like to use a timer while I am doing yoga, gradually increasing my timings. This is a posture that requires a deep focus upon the direction of breath to the area of the inner legs that you are opening. It is a very intimate part of the body. We hold this area very protective and it takes great patience to begin to release the tension.
The meridians along these lines are the YIN meridians of the liver, spleen and kidney, most directly is the liver meridian but the big 3 are all touched by this pose. These meridians hold their own mysterious and unique qualities. The yin meridians have feminine qualities. In the frog pose consider the internal, deep, sensitive aspects of this release. Breathe deeply, feeling the tension gradually let go and move deeper into the movement.
Frog pose along with leg stretches will assist your progress in standing poses.