Openings- on your mat and in life, take practice and patience. My shoulders prefer to stay tight and my hips rigid, so I practice and attempt to ignore any frustration I have with either. Always reminding myself that yoga is a life-long practice.
So many times I’m struggling with a pose like a perfect bound side angle or one of the koundinyasana arm balances and I just think, well I’ll just have to practice this over and over at home. I forget that I can also target specific areas and work on opening them to help me in these poses and more. For me and for many north americans it’s shoulders and hips that need the most work. While you could sit in pigeon or bridge pose for hours, I wanted to suggest a few things that might be easier to motivate yourself to do.
Lapasana. This stretch feels wonderful, especially after a lot of chaturanga-ing. The variation I like to do is to extend your bottom leg and tap the tops of your top leg behind you. Make sure you are very warmed up for this intense stretch, try it at the end of your practice.
Ardha Bakra Chandrasana. Salute the moon! This is more of a power move that gets into your hips, shoulders, and even your back. Be sure to keep your abs firm and lumbar spine long to protect your back. To add some strength work, lift up onto the shoelace part of your back leg into full expression.
Half lotus with reverse namaskar. Just for funsies, try this one out with me. This opens your shoulders and hips, also it looks really cool. I always take the standing half lotus modification during tree pose in class because I desperately need hip openers anywhere I can get them. Again, be warmed up for this one or it will not feel good.