The Half Shoelace Pose is a great alternative to the full Shoelace Pose if you have very tight hips. But this does not mean that it is any less intense or therapeutic a hip opener.
"Think with your whole body." ~ Tainsen Deshimaru
Yin Yoga would be aptly named "mindfulness yoga." For there is no better contemplative practice utilizing the body, than this practice. If you have never heard of Yin Yoga, I suggest you read my introductory article, "What is Yin Yoga." In reading this article, you will learn the concepts of going to your edge, without going over the edge.
Yin Yoga is also about learning to hold poses for 3-5 minutes and watch, without judgement, how your body slowly opens and releases as you send your conscious breath to those areas are that are stuck. It is an intensely internal and healing process, of the body, mind and soul!
The Half Shoelace Pose and the Half Square Pose are very similar, however the position of the knees changes the pose in more than subtle ways. In the Half Square Pose, the ankle rests on the opposite knee, but in the Half Shoelace, the knees are stacked, one on top of the other, creating the need for more balance and internal rotation of hips.
From a seated position, begin by extending your right leg. Now take your left leg and cross it over the right, bending your knee, placing your left ankle by your right hip and your left knee over the right. Please reference the first picture below.
Make sure that when you set this pose up, that your left hip does not pop off the ground. It really wants to, but keep it grounded. You may wish to take your left hand and place it in the crease of your hip, gently pushing it down to establish this necessary groundedness.
Now assess your hips. Have you found your edge? If you are finding it hard to breathe slowly and evenly in this pose, your hips are tight and you may want to place your back up against the wall.
You need to ensure that you are coming to an appropriate edge - one that is interesting and mildly intense, but not so intense that you hold your breath. The minute you hold your breath, the pose becomes anti-therapeutic!
If you are not to your edge, begin to slowly fold forward at the waist, as shown in the second picture. Continue to breathe deeply as you allow gravity to take you lower, not the active pulling of your arms.
In Yin Yoga, you need to remember that the pose is definitely not about how far you are able to bend, nor how you look in the pose, but about your own experience of the pose within you!
When you forget about judging your abilities, or forcing yourself beyond your edge, it is only then that insight happens and healing is a possibility. This is why we call it mindfulness yoga!
Yin Yoga is about releasing all muscular activity, and holding the pose without fidgeting, to find calmness by holding any discomfort. When you breath through the discomfort, sending your prana to your tight hips, you invite the possibility for even more opening! What a wonderful, insightful and mindful way to practice!
Hold the pose for 3-5 minutes, or even more if you find it intensely therapeutic!
If this pose is still too intense for your hips, even if you are sitting against the wall, you can always do the wonderful Eye of the Needle Pose. Any hip opener that you do will always be therapeutic for you, so please, always at least try to work on your tight hips in whatever yin yoga pose works for you!
When finished on the one side, always remember to do the opposite side, for the same amount of time. Notice which side is tighter, and as you breath into the sensations, you can contemplate what this may mean in your life. The right-brain controls the left side of the body, and vice versa. Are you more right-brained or more left?
You may also wish to take the Half Shoelace Pose into a lateral, side opening pose. Visit my page on the Lateral Half Shoelace Pose to see this one!
The effect of any deep hip opener is very releasing; physically, emotionally and mentally. The long held yin yoga poses allow the time for this slow, sweet opening to occur.
The 2nd Chakra is located in the hips and lower abdomen, and when we are stressed, it is the belly and the breath that we guard, blocking this energy and preventing its flow.
As a response to strong emotions we tighten the lower belly and hold our breath. When we learn to soften the belly and deeply pull the breath into this area, through belly breathing, we open to the possibility of releasing lots of stress and strong emotions! The hip opening poses are marvels at this!
As you hold the Half Shoelace Pose, relax and soften your belly. Visualize breathing into the belly, allowing it to expand, and as you exhale, send your breath and energy to the tight area. This is the key component to the practice of mindfulness yoga, while you continue to hold still in the pose.
Learning to open the energy of the 2nd Chakra will bring about emotional health and improve all your relationships!
You too can have a yoga for healing practice when you do the Half Shoelace Pose in the Yin Yoga style. So just allow yourself to let go, release your hips, release your emotions and may you find healing of your body, mind and soul!
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