Monday (February 29) is Leap Day, a day that only comes around every four years and is worth acknowledging.
Traditionally, women were permitted to ask a man’s hand in marriage on Leap Day and if the man refused, he was then obliged to buy her a dress or, in some upper-class European societies, 12 pairs of gloves to hide the shame of not wearing an engagement ring.
People lucky enough to be born on February 29 are known as “leap-lings” or “leapers,” and are believed to possess special talents; while couples in Greece believe that the day is entirely unlucky, and one in five plan to avoid getting married during a leap year entirely.
Two more fun facts: the frog is one of the most common symbols associated with Leap Day (on which perhaps people played leap frog), and February 29 is also (fittingly) Rare Disease Day.
So in honor of the extra day, here’s a delicious hip opening yoga sequence ending with Frog Pose -- our nod to Leap Day.
Begin in a wide-legged stance on your mat. Turn your toes out and heels in at about a 45-degree angle. Bend your knees deeply to the sides, lowering your hips down between your knees, and bring your hands to your inner knees for support.
With your hands on your inner knees, press your knees wide apart and lift your sternum. Feel free to move lightly from side to side as you open your groin and outer hips.
On an inhale, straighten your legs and circle both arms overhead; exhale and bring both palms down through prayer as you bend your knees and lower back down into Goddess Pose.
Repeat 7 or 8 times -- extending up on the inhale and squatting down on the exhale — and then hold Goddess Pose for 5 rounds of breath with your hands pressed together in prayer at your heart.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Inhale and extend up one more time, exhale and bring your hands to your hips as you turn your toes back in and heals out. Inhale and lift your chest slightly, exhale and fold forward between your legs, bending your knees as necessary.
Release your hands to the floor or a pair of blocks. Keep your legs engaged as you press down evenly through the inner and outer edges of your feet and lengthen your spine as best you can. Take multiple rounds of breath.
Wide Side Lunges
From your Wide-Legged Forward Fold, slowly begin to walk both hands over toward your right foot. Turn your right foot and knee out, and begin to bend your right knee. As you do, turn your left toes up toward the ceiling, lengthening your left leg.
You can bend your bottom knee as much or as little as is healthy for your knee joint, bringing your sitting bone down to your heel or simply bending each knee half way in the direction of your toes.
To go from side-to-side: Inhale and press down through your hands and right foot as you straighten your right leg, coming back into a Wide-Legged Forward Fold. Then on your exhale, walk your hands over to the left, turn your left toes and knee out, and lunge. Press back through center on an inhale, and lunge right on your next exhale.
Repeat side to side 4 or 5 times. Then rest in a Wide-Legged Forward Fold.
Fold your mat in half and place a folded blanket or towel on the floor next to the folded edge of the mat. Begin in Table Top position with one knee on the blanket and one on the mat.
Slowly begin to widen your knees apart. Strongly flex your feet and turn them out, lowering the inner edges to the floor. If it’s ok with your knees, continue widening them apart and lower your forearms to the floor.
Try and keep your outer hips in line with your outer knees and your spine long. Press down through your elbows and lightly draw your low ribs in as you breathe. Hold for 10 breaths.
To exit, press up to your hands and draw both knees in. Once they are underneath you, rest in Child’s Pose.
Frog Pose can be a killer while doing it, but doesn’t it feel so yummy after? Feel free to take a moment and move through your hips when you’re done, and let us know what you think in the comments below!