3 Essential Stretches to Improve Your Turnout

Whether you’re trying to improve your flexibility, warm up for class, or just relieve some muscle soreness, stretching can be extremely beneficial. For this tutorial, we’ve picked our favorite basic hip-opening stretches inspired by our favorite yoga poses and in-class exercises.

Each of these poses can be modified to be either more or less intense, so choose the best variation for you. As always, listen to your body and keep in mind these tips for safe stretching:

  • Repeat the stretch on both sides. Don’t give up on one side when it can’t quite do what the other can. Symmetry makes for good alignment!
  • Breathe. It seems obvious, but it’s a natural tendency to hold your breath during a deep stretch. Taking deep breaths sends oxygen through your blood and to your muscles, which both feels great and helps your stretch.
  • Move slowly in and out of stretches, and never force yourself past the point of pain. Protect your instrument!

Drop-Second Plié

Stand in a wide second position, turning out only as much as your hips will allow. Hold onto a barre, table, chair, etc. for support as you bend into a deep grand plié. This stretch will be wider and lower than a proper grand plié, and you’ll want the weight of your pelvis to drop between your heels. Be careful of over-rotation — always keep the arches lifted, with all five toes rooted into the floor.

If you feel stable enough to balance in this position, try lifting your hands off the barre and placing them at your chest, palms together. Place your elbows at the insides of your knees and push your hands downward to push the knees back and open. Remember to breathe! To recover, gently take your elbows away from your knees, place your hands back on the barre, and use your glutes to rise and straighten your knees.

DROP 2nd

Pivot Lunge

Begin in a regular lunge: on one knee with one foot flat on the floor in front of you. You want your pelvis as low as possible here, so slide your back knee away from you to get closer to the ground. Make sure your legs are parallel with your toes pointing straight forward.

LUNGE1

Lift the toes of the front foot and turn them outward. Bring your hands to the floor on the inside of the front leg, and again, get as close to the floor as possible (after tons of practice, I can almost rest on my elbows). Rest here for about 10-15 seconds, or a few deep breaths, and repeat. For an even deeper stretch, you can try pushing your knee outward with your hand and opening your chest toward the ceiling.

LUNGE2

Pigeon

On all fours, extend one leg behind you. Bring the foot of the other leg forward, keeping the knee on the floor and turning out from the hip. Slowly push backward from your hands to move your weight over the bent leg. You want your hips to sit on the floor behind your foot, with your back leg straight. If you’re not quite there yet, use a yoga block, a pillow, or even just your hands to hold your pelvis off the floor. This will give you a more gentle stretch so as to avoid injury to your back and knees. Remember to be patient with your body — force and speed don’t work with flexibility!

PIGEON1

If you feel comfortable in this position and want to add a quad/hip flexor stretch, try this more advanced variation. You can hold the leg from over your head, or from behind and under your shoulders. Keep breathing!

PIGEON2

 

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