Hip opening yoga poses – what’s the point?
Well, our hips are an incredible, highly complex example of anatomy that are absolutely crucial for our mobility.
Yep, whether we’re sitting, walking, running, dancing, bending – you name it – our hips are working hard behind the scenes.
All this hard work can lead to tightness, pain, aches and more serious injury if we don’t give our hips the love and care they deserve.
And our hips aren’t only a gauge for physical stress.
In fact, various studies have shown that pain in our hips can also be caused by our menstrual cycles, harboured emotional stress and more.
As a wise woman once said; our hips don’t lie. If you find them hurting or tense, they’re telling you something – to do some hip opening yoga!
In this article, we’ll walk you through:
- The benefits of hip opening yoga poses.
- Safety precautions of hip opening yoga poses.
- 7 Hip opening yoga poses.
Let’s get into it!
The benefits of hip Opening Yoga Poses.
Did you know that every time your use your hips, your body activates and engages over 25 muscles in order to do so?
And that’s not even half of it.
Our hips are highly complex examples of anatomy – featuring not only these many muscle groups, but also countless ligaments (connective tissues), joints, nerves and labrums.
Each of these components work together in an synchronised, intricate network to keep us moving. And it only takes one of these components to stop working properly for our hips to experience discomfort, pain or impaired mobility.
And for this reason, it’s important to protect them through regular massaging, stretching and strengthening exercises. Enter hip opening yoga!
The majority of hip issues come from spasmodic use, regular overuse, repetitive movements, ageing or injuries to the hips.
Hip opening yoga poses are an amazing way to relieve pain and to keep your hips functioning properly.
Hip opening yoga poses help combat the above, by expertly coordinating hip movements, breathwork and sequencing that work to strengthen, stretch, massage and expand our hips range of movements.
In fact, hip opening yoga poses have proved so effective that they are now a staple feature of doctor-prescribed physiotherapy routines including post-hip surgery, regaining hip mobility after injury, for arthritis, post pregnancy hip rehabilitation and many more!
Safety precautions of hip Opening Yoga Poses.
While hip opening yoga poses can do wonders for the hips, there are also safety precautions to be mindful of.
Some yoga for hips may aggravate or exacerbate preexisting conditions. If you suffer from chronic pain or preexisting conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis, or are pregnant then make sure to consult a doctor before attempting any yoga for hips.
7 Hip opening yoga poses
#1: Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
- Begin lying flat on your back, then slowly lift your legs up, bringing your knees towards your chest. Your ankles should be stacked directly above your knees.
- Stretch both arms out between your bent legs and grasp both big toes with three fingers (known as a toe-lock).
- Keeping your entire back and shoulder blades against the floor, widen your legs to let your thighs fall alongside your torso, soles of the feet facing up to the sky.
- As your tailbone naturally rises off the mat, press your heels up, your sit bones down and very gently pull back with your arms.
- Introduce gentle rocking movement from side to side by slowly shifting your body weight from one side to the other.
- Remain here for between 2-10 minutes.
#2: Garland Pose (Mālāsana)
- Begin in a crouched position, feet just wider than your hips, tailbone between your ankles.
- In this position, your feet can be flat or heels can rise off the floor – whatever is comfortable and allows you to maintain balance.
- Place your palms in prayer position and bring them to your chest so that your arms are on the inside of your legs.
- Press hands firmly together while also pressing elbows against your inner thighs just above your knee to widen your hips further.
- Tuck your tailbone under, let your shoulders fall back and down away from your ears, while maintaining a strong and straight spine.
- Hold for 1-5 minutes, breathing deeply as you do so.
#3: Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
- Begin lying flat on your back.
- Bend the knees and pull your knees as close to the pelvis as you can. Place the soles of the feet together and open your knees to the side.
- Place both knees on the floor if you can. If you can’t quite reach, place a block or a cushion under your knees to bring the ground up to you and to support your hips relaxing.
- Open your arms to the side, palms facing up, and feel your shoulder blades relax into the mat. Deep belly breathing.
- To deepen your hips relaxation, take a bolster and place it on your torso, from the upper chest to the pelvis.
- Hold this pose for 5-10 min, breathing deeply.
#4: Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
- Start in Downward Dog pose, with both palms and soles of feet flat against the mat.
- Ensure that your feet are hip-width distance apart, palms just wider than shoulder-width apart and chin is tucked under slightly, towards your chest.
- Next, gently step your left foot forward and to the outside edge of your left hand. This should lower yourr hips and bring you into a soft lunge position.
- Following this, lower your right knee to the ground as you press firmly into your hips.
- Make sure to keep your arms and back straight here.
- Then, gently lower your torso, so that your forearms are resting flat on the mat, parallel to the long edge of the mat, as in the picture above.
- As you do so, focus on keeping your back strong and flat, head straight in line with your spine, gaze resting softly forward.
- If you can, try to lift your right knee up to straighten your right leg, keeping your your tailbone tucked under towards your navel.
- Hold the pose for 4-10 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
#5: Wide Leg Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
- Begin standing in the centre of your mat.
- From here, slowly bring your legs as wide apart as is comfortable and allows you to keep a straight spine.
- Flex your ankles for 2 breaths.
- As you exhale, lean your torso forward moving your head as close to the mat as is comfortable. If you can, try to rest the crown of your head on the mat.
- Bring your arms out to the side, then reach them down to wrap your fingers of each hand around the corresponding toe in a toe lock.
- If this is uncomfortable, alternatively you can rest your hands on the mat or on your shins.
- Stay here for 4-5 breaths, trying to go deeper into the stretch on each exhale.
#6: Half Pigeon Pose (Ardha Kapotasana)
- Start on your mat, on all fours in the tabletop position.
- Next, guide your right knee up toward your right wrist.
- Allow your right leg to fall to the side, so that the outer side of your left calf is resting on the mat as in the picture above.
- In doing so, your right foot should land somewhere between your left wrist and your left hip.
- Note that the more parallel your shin is to the front edge of your mat the more difficult the posture will be ie. the closer your foot is to the left hip the easier the posture will be.
- Extend your left leg long straight back behind you. Palms should still be flat on the mat, spine straight and long, tailbone tucked under toward the naval.
- From here you can place a block, a pillow or a book underneath your right hip (to keep your hips level) if this feels more comfortable.
- Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes, then repeat on other side for anatomical balance.
#7: Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Lie on your back with knees bent, legs and feet hip distance apart, arms resting alongside you with soles flat on the floor.
- Then bring both feet towards your buttocks.
- Pressing down through your feet, inhale as you lift your hips, raising from the pubic area rather than from the belly button.
- Shuffle your hands together to clasp them under your back, flat against the mat.
- Broaden the shoulders and open your chest to tuck your upper arms underneath you.
- Keep thighs parallel, while you press into your heels to help raise the back of your thighs and your buttocks higher to intensify the stretch.
- Stay here for 3-4 deep breaths if you can.
- Lower back down, rest for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat alternating between raised and rested 4-8 times.
From hip yoga to hand yoga – how to look after yours.
And with that, we’ve come to the end of our hip opening yoga poses, but why stop here?
Our hands are one of the most important and frequently used parts of our bodies.
Learn how to look after them here: Hand Yoga: Benefits + 6 Poses For Healthy Hands, Fingers + Wrists