Among my favorite yoga and exercise props or pieces of home equipment is the simple foam roller, largely due to its versatility. When rolled along tight muscles, it serves as a poor gal’s massage. It also creates some great abdominal workouts, a la Pilates. Finally, I like to use it as a companion for certain asanas, similar to a yoga block, when practicing at home or stretching at the gym. Check out the simple hip series below, beginning with a low lunge (a.k.a. a runner’s lunge) and progressing into a supported half pigeon on the roller. This is a perfect little sequence for athletes, runners, desk jockeys, or anyone else with tight hips. Try it, and tell me what you think!
Start by lunging over the foam roller. It’s nice to place your hands on it, for added support, similar to having a yoga block under each hand. Breath, here, deeply for 5-10 breaths.
Toe-heel your foot across the top edge of your mat, so that you are sitting on the roller. You’ll notice it fits snugly into the crook behind your knee.
Walk your hands forward and start to move your torso toward the floor.
Eventually, you will fold forward completely, as in half pigeon pose. By rocking slightly forward and back along the roller, you’ll feel added support and emphasis in your hip, hamstring, and outer thigh. The roller will also help adjust your shin toward parallel with the top edge of your yoga mat (the fullest expression of the pose). Be sure to flex your front foot to protect your knee, and if you feel any twinges in the knee, back off right away. Hold for 10 breaths or more on each side.