Practice Figure 4 Cross-Legged Hip Stretch at the Wall

Preparing for a figure 4 stretch at the wall.

Article At A Glance

Figure 4 Stretch at the wall is a great hip mobility stretch that you can practice at the wall to increase stability and pose feedback. Read on to learn to stretch the hip rotators while release tension in the pelvic area by practicing this posture.

At first glance, it may not look as though the wall is useful in a Figure 4 Stretch (Supta Kapotasana). Yet it potentially offers good leverage and resistance to venture deeper into the realm of mobility and flow in your hips.

Be sure to adjust your distance from the wall to get the most out of this variation: if you are too far away from the wall you may not get enough leverage. Also, experiment with pressing the ball of your foot and toes into the wall more to increase sensations and range of motion.

There’s lots of proof for the benefits of warming up (prompt a light sweat) before practicing yoga in general, and especially deep hip and leg stretches. Be creative and have fun with it: jog in place, hop up and down, ride your bike, do a few jumping jacks, or just freely shake out and rotate all your joints.

Possible Benefits of Figure 4 Stretch at the Wall

  • Figure 4 Stretch releases tension in the pelvic region.
  • Pressing the wall with one foot deepens the stretch in the legs and hip rotators.
  • The “legs up the wall” aspect of this pose offers relief from long days of sitting in a chair or standing up and relaxes the nervous system.

How to Practice Figure 4 Stretch at the Wall: Variation 1

  1. Position yourself with your buttocks against the wall and legs stretching up the wall, and lie flat on your back. Feel free to place a blanket beneath your back for comfort. If your buttocks are lifting off the floor and your lumbar spine is rounded, scoot away from the wall a few inches.How to do a comfortable hamstring stretch at the wall.
  2. Keep one of your legs on the wall, and cross the ankle of the other leg across the thigh, just above the kneecap of your straightened leg. Preparing for a figure 4 stretch at the wall.
  3. Keep the foot of your bent leg in a flexed position and avoid letting your ankle twist.Figure 4 Stretch increases hip mobility.
  4. Let the hip and knee of your bent leg move away from the midline of your body.
  5. Carefully, slightly encourage your bent knee toward the wall for a deeper hip stretch. Not too much, not too little. Between comfort and discomfort.
  6. Relax your shoulders and upper body and focus on the feelings in your hips and legs.
  7. Look toward the ceiling or close your eyes and focus inwardly on sensations.
  8. Breathe deeply into your diaphragm and feel the movement of your breath in your pelvis and hips.
  9. To exit the pose, return the bent leg back up the wall to join the other leg and rest.
  10. Repeat the pose on your other leg.

How to Practice Figure 4 Stretch at the Wall: Variation 2

  1. Lie on your back on a yoga mat or blanket with your buttocks close to the wall and legs up the wall as in variation one.
  2. Keep one leg extended up the wall. Cross the other ankle across the thigh, just above the kneecap of the straight leg, and let your hip and knee rotate away from the midline of your body.
  3. Now also bend the straight leg and place that foot on the wall. You may need to move away from or toward the wall in order to keep your spine in a neutral, relaxed position. If your buttocks are lifting off the floor, move away from the wall. If you’re not feeling a stretch in the outer hip of the bent leg, and your back is resting in a neutral position on the floor, move a little bit closer.
  4. To deepen the pose, lift your heel off the wall, pressing with the ball of your foot or your toes as you bring your legs closer to your chest for a deeper stretch.
  5. With the closest hand, slowly and gently press your bent knee toward the wall. Never force the knee. Find that place of the perfect amount of tolerable sensation.Image depicts another figure 4 stretch variation for hip mobility.
  6. Relax your shoulders and upper body and focus on the sensations in your hips.Image depicts moving the heel away from the wall to increase the figure 4 stretch.
  7. Keep breathing while you explore and make micro-movements for as long as you would like.
  8. To exit the pose, return both legs back up the wall and rest.
  9. Repeat this variation on the other leg.
  10. When you are finished with both variations, bring your knees toward your chest and give them a hug.
  11. Roll over onto your side, and return to a seated position with your back against the wall for support.

“Home Play” Assignment—Explore and Deepen the Pose

  • Focus on the sensations in your hips as you bring your legs closer or push them farther away from your chest. 
  • Locate the point of greatest sensation inside your hip area. If it had a color, what color would it be? If you were to describe the feeling in one word, what would it be?

Stephanie Ann Pappas is the author of Yoga at Your Wall, Yoga Posture Adjustments and Assisting, and Las Posturas de Yoga in Spanish. Her books are available on amazon.com and other online bookstores.

Stephanie has been practicing yoga and meditation since 1982. She has directed spiritually oriented yoga teacher trainings since 1998, and in 2002 she founded the Devalila Yoga teacher training school, a 200-hour registered program which as certified over 300 teachers.

 

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