Open those hips! Eka Pada Koundinyasana A

 In tips for teachers

My IT Band is tight.

Tiiiiiiight.

Or more correctly, I should say that my gluteus maximus, which feeds into and inserts on the IT band, is tight, so that the resulting pull tautens the IT band.  (“IT” stand for “ilio-tibial”, and this band is a swath of connective tissue that runs from the pelvis to the outer knee.  The glute maximus and the tensor fasciae latae insert into it.)

Here’s an IT band loving sequence that culminates in Eka Pada Koundinyasana A – a crazy extension of Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana).

Eka Pada Koundinyasana A

Component Parts:

  • core
  • scapular stabilization
  • thoracic rotation (and some lateral flexion)
  • IT Band/ outer hip opening
  • Engagement of back line

Now, to be fair, this is really more a pose about the torso’s rotation and flexion than about the IT band…but, I think it warrants the exploration.

Here’s the sequence I used:

  • Sukhasana with unleveraged, then leveraged twist

I place my hands on the ribcage and twist from there, then release the arms and keep the twist to work the obliques.  Finally, we leverage the twist by using the arms to find the full range of motion.

  • Cat and Cow with leg (and arm) extension
  • Surya A 5 times
  • Warrior II with a twist and fingers interlaced overhead  -> “floating” Parsvakonasana to work core
  • Trikonasana -> “floating variation” to work the obliques
  • Plank with one hand lifted to work obliques.  Can also lift a foot.
  • Uttanasana with IT band stretch (both sides)

My teacher Chris Richardson introduced this to me.  Come into Uttanasana.  Place your hands on blocks and then turn around to the right on your feet so that they face the back of your mat and your legs are crossed.  Then continue to walk your hands further to the right (you can place them on blocks) as you like.  Press through the big toe mound of your left foot and shift your hips further back to the left until you feel a stretch through the outer hip.

  • Crescent -> Pvt. Parsvakonasana (unleveraged, then leveraged twist)
  • Lizard  (deep lunge) -> Ardha Hanumanasana (externally rotate the front thigh for another IT band stretch…yikes!) -> Brigid’s Cross (IT band stretch and deep twist: it’s like Parivrtta Supta Hasta Padangustasana facing down)

Eka Pada Koundinyasana A – take off sequence

  • Stage 1: Squat with knees together, twist: belly, waist, ribs
  • Stage 2: Hands to floor, shoulder distance apart
  • Stage 3: Parsva Bakasana
  • Stage 4: Eka Pada Koundinyasana A

Happy arm balancing!

Rachel

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