If you are in need of a big hip opening stretch, look no further than this three point twist stretch. This is an intermediate move that takes some practice to work up to, but the benefits you will feel in your hips and lower back are worth the practice.
The Three Point Twist is a difficult stretch that will challenge your arms, shoulders, core, balancing ability, and hip flexibility. Derived from what yoga practitioners might call the Downward Dog, the Three Point Twist adds another level of complexity by taking one foot off of the ground and bending the knee of the raised leg to the other side of the body. This move is also called the Three Legged Dog in yoga practice.
It’s not a beginner's move by any means and may take a bit of getting used to until you can master the form and gain the requisite strength to hold your body in this pose for an extended period. It is a particularly great stretch both for cyclists and runners, whose activities often lead to tightness in the hips and legs. Not to mention, this stretch might feel delicious for people who spend long days sitting in a chair or at a desk.
This pose requires only some free space on the floor and your own body weight. We do suggest that you have a firm understanding of the downward dog pose and the strength and coordination that that certain pose requires.
You will start the three point twist in downward dog. Please follow the proper steps to come into a well-positioned downward dog. As with all stretches and movements, we want to start with the proper position to avoid any unnecessary injuries. In downward dog, you should end up with your head pointed down, your hips being high in the air, and your knees raised off of the floor.
Once you are established here, with your body weight balanced between your hands and your feet, gently raise your right leg into the air. Now your body weight is balanced between your two hands and left foot.
From here, bend your right knee and let your calf and foot hang over the left side of your body. You should feel activation in your core and arms as you stabilize your body. It should also be a great stretch through the front of your hip flexor and even your quadricep muscles.
Hold this pose for at least 15 seconds as you breathe deeply. You can imagine your breath going down to the tight muscles in your hips and legs. Once you have held the pose for the desired amount of time, bring your right foot back down to the floor and into downward dog.
Repeat the stretch on the opposite side. If you find that your arms are tired from supporting your body weight, come into a relaxing child’s pose in between sides. This will allow your body to rest before attempting on the other side.
We have already mentioned that this pose is a great hip opener for people who are struggling with tight hip muscles or even lower back pain. But this is also a great pose to help you develop and cultivate your balance and the muscles required to find stability in this movement.
The arm muscles do have to work quite hard to maintain stability, so this is a great one to do if you want to add some tone to your arms. Not only that, but your core muscles get a great workout while holding this pose. Be sure to breathe deeply and resist the urge to move around too much while holding this position.
Inversion poses (poses that have your head below your heart) are also great for relieving tension and stress. Some sources even say that inversion may increase energy levels and overall alertness. The three point twist pose does require some concentration and focus to hold and could be a beneficial mental break from life stressors that might be crowding your mind. So, if you’re feeling a bit sluggish or down throughout the day, give this pose a go to not only stretch out your hips but give you an energy boost!
Again, we would consider this pose an intermediate movement. That means that you should build up the proper strength, stability, endurance, and coordination before attempting. Having a firm grasp on downward dog is the first step.
If the hip opening portion is too intense for you in this pose, we suggest doing other hip-opening exercises first. Please refer to our resources on the best hip stretches to work on improving your hip muscles.
If there’s any point where you start to feel pain while holding this pose, come out of it. Consult with your healthcare professional if you deem it necessary.
Find a mat or comfortable area on the floor.
Get down on the ground on your hands and knees with your eyes looking down at the floor in front of you. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart with your palms on the floor and fingers spread wide.
Now start raising your glutes towards the ceiling all the while straightening your legs. You should end up with your head pointed down, your hips being high in the air and your knees off of the floor.
Your weight should now be entirely supported on your palms and on your toes, no other part of your body should be touching the ground. If you can, try to keep your feet flat on the ground. For now, this is the Downward Dog pose.
The next (and trickiest) phase of the movement is to take one of your feet off of the ground and raise it up as high as it will go towards the ceiling. The rest of your body is now balanced on one foot and your two hands.
Next, bend the knee of your raised leg so your calf and foot are bent over to the other side of your body. You should feel a good burn in this raised leg as well as a challenge to your core and arms as you maintain your balance.
Hold this pose for 30 seconds, and then repeat for the other leg so both get a proper workout.