Contents

Hip Opening Yoga Sequences

Hip Opening Yoga Sequences

Below Hip Opening Yoga yoga sequences act as guides for yoga teachers to create their own yoga class plans

Please click on the sequence title to view the complete hip opening yoga sequence with detailed overview and cues.


  • 1. Hip Opening Yoga – Yoga Sequence for Hips


  • 2. Hip Opening Yoga – Hip Opening Yoga Sequence: Intermediate Yoga Sequence


  • 3. Hip Opening Yoga – Hip Opening Yoga Sequence Advanced Level


  • 4. Hip Opening Yoga – Yoga Sequence for Perimenopause and Menopause


  • 5. Hip Opening Yoga – Yoga Sequence for Root (Muladhara) Chakra


  • 6. Hip Opening Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence for Hanumanasana


  • 7. Hip Opening Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence: Yoga Sequence For Balance With Warrior Pose


  • 8. Hip Opening Yoga – Yin Yoga Sequence: Moon Salutation Yoga Sequence

  • 9. Hip Opening Yoga – Hip Opening Yoga Sequence: Seated And Supine Yoga Sequence

  • 10. Hip Opening Yoga – Core Strength Yoga Sequence: Hip Opening Yoga Sequence

  • 11. Hip Opening Yoga – Ardha Chandrasana Sequence

  • 12. Hip Opening Yoga – Vinyasa yoga flow sequence : Peak Pose – Archer Pose -Standing and Seated poses

  • 13. Hip Opening Yoga – Dancer Pose Yoga Sequence: Yoga Sequence for Balance

  • 14. Hip Opening Yoga – Vinyasa Yoga Sequence: Peak Pose Yoga Sequence – Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

  • 15. Hip Opening Yoga – Introductory Yoga Sequence for Teenagers

  • 16. Hip Opening Yoga – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana: Power Yoga Sequence for One-Legged King Pigeon Pose

  • 17. Hip Opening Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence: Beginner Yoga Sequence

  • 18. Hip Opening Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence for Marichyasana B

  • 19. Hip Opening Yoga – Yin Yoga Sequence for Hips

  • 20. Hip Opening Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence for Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

  • 21. Hip Opening Yoga – Cardio Yoga Sequence

  • 22. Hip Opening Yoga – Yoga Therapy Sequence – Hip Replacement Yoga

  • 23. Hip Opening Yoga – Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana for Balance and Energy

  • 24. Hip Opening Yoga – Healing Yoga Sequence: Yoga for Herniated Disc and Spondylolisthesis

  • 25. Hip Opening Yoga – Yoga For Senior Citizens: Chair Yoga For Back Pain

  • 26. Hip Opening Yoga – Yoga Sequence For Core Strength: Seated Twist Pose With Baby Grasshopper Pose

  • 27. Hip Opening Yoga – Gentle Hatha Flow Yoga Sequence For Better Nervous System

  • 28. Hip Opening Yoga – Mom And Baby Yoga: Daily Yoga With The Baby

  • 29. Hip Opening Yoga – Prenatal Yoga Sequence for Second Trimester

  • 30. Hip Opening Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence for Bharadvajasana

  • 31. Hip Opening Yoga – Hip Opening Yoga Sequence with Peak Pose One Legged King Pigeon Pose

  • 32. Hip Opening Yoga – Adaptive Yoga Sequence: Yoga For Amputees With Prosthesis Leg

  • 33. Hip Opening Yoga – Chair Yoga: Chair Moon Salutation

  • 34. Hip Opening Yoga – Iyengar Yoga For Beginners: Beginner Iyengar Yoga Sequence For 30 minutes

  • 35. Hip Opening Yoga – Iyengar Yoga For Senior Citizens: Beginner Level Iyengar Yoga For Senior Citizens With Props

  • 36. Hip Opening Yoga – Yoga Handstand Progression: Peak Pose Vinyasa Yoga Sequence Towards Adho Mukha Vrksasana

  • 37. Hip Opening Yoga – Yoga Wheel Sequence: Dharma Yoga Wheel Yoga Poses

  • 38. Hip Opening Yoga – Peak Pose Sequence: Vinyasa Flow Peak Pose For Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana D

  • 39. Hip Opening Yoga – Adaptive Yoga For the Blind: Yoga for the Visually Impaired Children or Adults

  • 40. Hip Opening Yoga – Iyengar Yoga Sequence: Intermediate Iyengar Yoga Sequence

  • 41. Hip Opening Yoga – Yoga Nidra Sequence: A Full Body Chakra Balancing Yoga Sequence to Prepare For Yoga Nidra

  • 42. Hip Opening Yoga – Scoliosis-Lordosis-Kyphosis and Therapy Yoga: Yoga Poses for the Spine (abnormal curvature)

  • 43. Hip Opening Yoga – Advanced Bikam Yoga: 84 Yoga Poses

  • 44. Hip Opening Yoga – Baptiste Yoga: Power Vinyasa Yoga

  • 45. Hip Opening Yoga – Beginner Level Aerial Yoga Sequence

Try This Yoga Sequence to Open Your Hips

Hip openers are, in my opinion, the most beneficial poses in a yoga asana practice. Coming from someone who has extremely tight hips, I love these poses for their potential to open me up both physically and mentally.

For many of us, stress, fear, and anxiety live in our hips. This is the place where we bottle up tension and keep hold of old, negative thoughts and memories. Being able to release these things is an amazing experience.

And even though ‘amazing’ isn’t how you’ll personally describe hip openers, your body, mind, and spirit will be grateful for the opportunity to release. Try this yoga sequence to open your hips:

Reclining Bound Angle

Credit: Meagan McCrary

Start by lying on your back on your mat. Bring the soles of the feet to touch and let the knees fall open. Start breathing deeply, consciously sending breath to the hip creases. Start to ignite the energy within you and allow the hips to start to melt open.

Figure Four or Thread the Needle Pose

Credit: Kristin McGee

Place the left foot on the floor and cross the right ankle over the left knee.

Gently pull the left leg towards you, lifting the left foot off the floor. Repeat on the other side.

Tip: If you want to feel a bit more, reach your hands through to grasp the left shin or back of the thigh

Wide Legged Child’s Pose

Credit: Jacqueline Buchanan

Sitting on bent legs, take the knees wide, keeping the feet together. Fold forward, stretching the arms out on the mat in front of you and lowering your third eye to the mat. You can play with walking the hands to either side of the mat to deepen the stretch.

Low Lunge

Credit: Ling Beisecker

Step the right foot to the top of the mat, staying on the bent knee of the left leg. Reach the arms over head and engage the core.

Melt into your hips, sinking as low as possible. Switch legs for the other side.

Warrior Two

From Low Lunge, lift your left knee off the mat and rotate the left foot 90 degrees so that the toes are now perpendicular to your mat and the arch of the left foot is in line with the heel of the right foot.

Bend into your right knee, making sure the knee doesn’t go past the ankle, and open your arms wide to the front and back of the mat. Imagine that you are trying to open your hips to run parallel with the left side of the mat while simultaneously bending the right knee straight over the second toe of the right foot. Repeat on the second side.

Goddess Pose

Stand with your feet wide on your mat. Turn your toes out and your heels in. Begin to sink down into a squat. Pulse up and down to bring energy into the legs and hips. Then hold the squat to truly stretch the hips.

Pigeon Pose

From Downward Facing Dog, step the right foot forward and lower the knee directly behind the right hand.

Lower down on to the left leg, trying to get the hips as close to the mat as possible. If that’s too painful, prop yourself up on a yoga block or bolster. Either stay here, or fold forward bringing the arms and forehead to the mat.

Hold for as long as feels blissful, or better yet, hold as long as it feels slightly uncomfortable. This pose can be tough for a lot of people, but it also creates enormous opening.

Double Pigeon or Fire Log Pose

Credit: Julia Lee

From Pigeon, keep the right leg as is (parallel with the top of the mat). Swing the left leg around so it stacks on top of the right.

If this is not possible, place a block or blanket under the left knee for support. Stay upright or forward fold for a deeper stretch.

As with all yoga classes, move through this sequence at your own pace, paying very close attention to what your body tells you. Never work to pain, only go for what’s reasonably comfortable.

You may experience a lot of sensation, including slight discomfort in some of these poses, especially if your hips are tight. Just remember to stay mindful and be patient with yourself and your asana practice.

“Hip Openers” in Yoga? Please, Let’s Stop The Madness

By: Dr. Ginger Garner

Our knowledge of how to address, preserve, and otherwise attend to the hip joint has exploded during the past decade.

Prior to this new age of research, the hip was relegated to a joint worthy of no more than a tendonitis, bursitis, or osteoarthritis diagnosis. A person was simply a hip replacement candidate or not. There was no other option once a hip joint had prematurely degenerated. Now, that has all changed, thanks to technological advances in diagnostic testing and investigation.

Unfortunately, while the world of hip preservation and rehabilitation is rapidly developing, the world of yoga and knowledge of hip health and safety have yet to join hands.

Many of my patients and colleagues have suffered from unnecessary hip injuries, from labral tears, all types of impingement, and compounding secondary diagnoses such as torn hamstrings, sports hernias, gluteal tendinopathy, to pelvic pain, all due to yoga practice.

Some suffered injuries in yoga class during a single traumatic injury, and some injuries were drawn out over years of accumulated microinjury to capsuloligamentous, bony, or cartilaginous structures.

Diagnosis of hip labral injuries have vastly increased over the last 10 years, perhaps making hip labral injuries the newest orthopedic diagnosis of the 21st century. This discovery also makes surgical and conservative management of hip labral injury uncharted territory.

Conservative therapy includes nonsurgical and post-surgical rehabilitation, and since the average time from injury to diagnosis is 2.5 years, there are many people with hip, pelvic, back, or sacroiliac joint pain that have undiagnosed hip labral tears.

All of this means that yoga practice must evolve to better suit (and preserve) the hip joint.

Yoga Posture Practice Must Evolve: No More “Hip Openers” Please

I should make myself quite clear, however. I am not out to demonize yoga or fear-monger the practice of yoga or how it may wreck a person’s body (to use recently controversial language).

My purpose is two-fold: (1) To clarify “what” and “how” yoga can be a safe, effective form of physical therapy and rehabilitation for the hip and pelvis, and (2) to underscore the areas where yoga posture practice should be evolved to prevent injury. Of course, I cannot do that in a single blog post.

However, I have many resources, including an ongoing blog, combined with teaching coursework in hip labral rehab and injury prevention, which continue to work to meet these goals. Yoga can and should be a safe practice for anyone to use.

My first request would be that we please strike the phrase “Hip Opener” from our yoga vocabulary. It is not helpful to that many people to think they only need to “stretch out a tight hip,” when in fact, they have bony and structural idiosyncrasies that prevent them from ever moving into certain yoga postures. Sure, soft tissue structures can be inhibiting hip range of motion but rarely is it helpful to put the bony parts of the hip in vulnerable end ranges.

We aren’t going to force or bully the tissue to deform under these kinds of extreme tensile loads, and 99% of the time, the average person (unless you are an elite athlete) isn’t going to be able to stabilize yoga postures in end ranges of motion. Typically, the capsule, ligaments, and cartilage will bear the load, including the bony structures, and they have a finite shelf life for handling that kind of adverse stress.

Additionally, using the tired phrase “hip opener” suggests pursuit of an end range of motion—moving further, “stretching” deeper, and/or using yoga postures for the sake of increasing hip range of motion and flexibility. This is a dangerous concept to present to the general public and it misrepresents the essence of yoga.

Yoga is not about flexibility, stretching, or moving further or deeper into any posture. Yoga is about a way of living, which encourages moderation and mindful movement and thinking. All the “hip opening” in the world is not going to foster enlightenment, especially if the “yoga” that is being practiced is only focused on some kind of orthopedic or fitness end goal.

Yoga is not a Cure-All

My second request would be that we reconsider using the phrase “yoga for ________(fill in the blank with whatever pathophysiology or health problem you want to address).”

This phrase pigeonholes yoga as a panacea for anything and everything. Using this phrase inherently marginalizes yoga’s full meaning, divorcing it from its philosophy and real capacity for healing and well-being.

Additionally, it can lead people to believe that their yoga teacher can “cure” or address a problem simply through a drop-in yoga class setting, which is misleading and inaccurate. A person with depression or low back pain may be helped by a yoga class, but it is not a panacea or a substitute or comprehensive medical care.

Yoga instructors are not medical professionals, so don’t saddle them with the burden of trying to be one. Only a licensed medical professional, in this case an orthopedic physical therapist or orthopedic surgeon, can properly and thoroughly screen and evaluate hips for structural deformities or problems. Your yoga teacher is not your health care provider, nor is he or she trained or licensed to be one, unless they have separate medical licensing.

Help your yoga teachers do their job well by avoiding end range of motion in any pose. And to yoga teachers: help yourselves tremendously by no longer using the phrase or practicing “hip opening” in classes without additional training in knowing how to screen for red flag hip problems.

To the yoga enthusiast: yoga is far more than a way to treat a problem. Yoga is about prevention of impairment and promotion of health across the lifespan. Yoga is about fostering mindfulness and well-being through all circumstances; and of finding your sense of calm and equanimity, even in chaotic times.

Yes, yoga can sometimes “fix” broken things, like hearts and hips; however, if you are seeking yoga as medicine, find a health care provider who is well versed in both yoga and medicine.

Another tip for yoga instructors in safeguarding their students is to not focus on end range of motion (“full” expression of a yoga posture like Virabhadrasana II, Trikonasana, Vajrasana, or Parsvakonasana, for example) in your class. Moderation in all range of motion for the hip, which means avoiding end range in all planes of motion, unless you are a licensed health care professional who has evaluated the hip joint(s), is the safest course of action when instructing yoga.

Lastly, yoga teachers, avoid adjustment to anyone’s hip in a pose, which also means not forcing the knee or spine into an end range as well. This will safeguard both you as a yoga teacher and a yoga student.

Study with YogaUOnline and Dr. Loren Fishman and Ellen Saltonstall – Yoga for Joint Health: Keys to Staying Mobile and Agile all Life Long.

Reprinted with permission from www.gingergarner.com

Dr. Ginger Garner PT, DPT, ATC, PYT

Ginger is a longtime physical therapist, athletic trainer, and professional yoga therapist. She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the founder and executive director of Professional Yoga Therapy Institute, an international post-graduate program for licensed medical professionals, which celebrates its 16th anniversary in 2016. Ginger serves as a consultant to, and adjunct faculty for, medical schools in the US and Canada who use her yoga curriculum and methodology. She is a faculty instructor at Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute and Medbridge Education. Ginger maintains an international teaching and lecture schedule.

Ginger’s multimedia platform textbook, Medical Therapeutic Yoga, will be published in the summer of 2016. She is currently pursuing research at UNC on MTBI, PTSD, and yoga methodology. Ginger’s clinical practice, Crystal Coast Integrative Medicine, focuses on pelvic, orthopaedic, and women’s healthcare. Ginger is a mother of three, which drives her advocacy work for partnership-based education, integrated medical care, and egalitarian economics.

The Best Yoga Hip Openers

Some people have naturally open hips and, therefore, hip openers in yoga feel like heaven. For others who have tight hips or hips that have been made tight by running or sports, hip openers can be the most dreaded part of a yoga class. Pigeon gets called, and all of a sudden you stop breathing, or a seated wide legged-forward fold is in the sequence, and you just grit your teeth and wait for it to end.

Sound familiar? Trust me when I say I have been there-yes, me, a yoga instructor! It took countless times of showing up to the mat, breathing, and relaxing for this pattern to change. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but if you take the time to let your hips relax and open in their own time, hip openers will feel amazing! Bonus: so too will your back and all of the other parts of your body connected to your hips.

These poses might do the trick to help your hips. If one of them doesn’t sit well with you after breathing there for a while, try another. Pick any five of these openers each day-switching them up each time-breathe into them, and the opening will happen! (See also: 9 Yoga Poses to Open Your Shoulders)

Pigeon

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From down dog, sweep left shin toward the front of the mat, left knee toward left wrist and left ankle toward rgwrist. (If right hip is elevated, set a rolled blanket or firm pillow underneath it.) Crawl hands forward until head is on the ground (or prop head up with soft blocks or blankets), and breathe here for 10 deep breaths. Repeat on left side.

Ankle to Knee

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Sitting upright, take right shin parallel to the front of the mat and stack left shin directly on top of and in line with it, keeping feet flexed to protect knees. (If knees and ankles don’t touch, place blankets in between them.) Breathe here for 5 deep breaths, then repeat with left shin on the bottom.

Low Lunge with Back Knee Down

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From down dog, step left foot forward between hands, then tap back knee down. If this is enough, you can stay leaning forward, but if there is more space, start to crawl hands up onto left thigh, bringing spine upright. Breathe here for 5 deep breaths, then repeat on the right.

Lizard

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From down dog, lift left leg high to down dog split, open hip, bend knee, and step left foot outside of left hand. Tap right knee to the ground and, if it feels good, gently lower forearms to the ground. Breathe here for 5 deep breaths, then repeat on right side.

Warrior II

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From down dog, step right foot forward between hands, spin left heel down with the foot slightly angled out, and windmill arms open, left arm reaching toward the back of the mat and right arm reaching toward the front of the mat. Bend right knee, keeping it in line with right ankle. Stay here for 5 deep breaths, then repeat on left side.

Half Chair, Half Ankle to Knee

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Stand up tall with feet parallel and under hip bones, shoulders in line with hips. Close eyes for 3 long, deep breaths. On the next inhale, bend knees and sink hips down as if sitting in a chair. Reach arms up toward ears, keeping shoulder blades down. Transfer weight into right foot and cross left ankle over right knee, keeping left foot flexed to protect knee. Stay here for 5 long, deep breaths, then repeat on other side.

Squat

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From standing, heel-toe feet wide apart, pointing toes out so that hips are open. Start to soften and bend knees, releasing hips toward the ground, hovering above at whatever height feels good for you. Take elbows inside of thighs, lightly pressing them out, and take hands together like a prayer at the center of chest. Try to keep spine long. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Seated Wide-Legged Forward Bend

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Sit up tall and open legs wide to sides until there’s a little tension but not so much that it is uncomfortable. Walk hands forward between legs, keeping torso long. Stay here for 10 long, deep breaths.

Frog

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Come to all fours and place a blanket under right knee, just off the mat. Slowly allow right knee to slide away from body as you lower hips and then chest toward the mat. Make a pillow with hands for head (or use a block). Allow hips to sink to wherever is still comfortable and breathe there for 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Half Happy Baby

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Lie on back with legs straight. Bend right knee, hugging it in toward chest. Take outer edge of right foot in right hand, reaching right knee toward right armpit. Rock softly from left to right if that feels nice, and stay here for 5 deep breaths. Repeat on left side.

Reclined Cow Face Pose

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Lie on back and cross right knee over left, winging feet out to the sides slightly. Take hold of right foot with left hand and left foot with right hand. Keeping knees stacked, direct feet with hands, moving in the direction of getting shins into one long line. Bend elbows and flex feet. Breathe here for 5 to 10 breaths, then repeat on other side. (You can also try reclined goddess pose, which just so happens to help combat PMS cramps, too.)

  • By Heidi Kristoffer @heidikristoffer

Practice These 9 Yoga Poses to Relieve Tight Hips

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Sitting is the new smoking. We’ve all heard it, but few of us actually take it seriously. Most of us spend at least 8 hours per day sitting down at a desk, in a car, or on a sofa, to name a few. We don’t realize that sitting for so long each day without daily hip stretches drastically affects our musculature.

The bone structure of your hips stabilizes and supports your body weight. It allows you to walk, sit, run, dance, and move, because it connects your trunk to your legs. Your hips are anatomically comprised of three main components: the hip flexors, the inner hips, and the outer hips.

In very simplified terms, your hip flexors draw your leg toward your torso. Your inner hips draw your legs toward each other, and stabilize your thigh bone in your hip socket. And your outer hips draw your legs apart from each other, and stabilize your thigh bone in your hip socket from the other side.

Weak and tight hip muscles becomes a painful combination that can create aches throughout your body.

When we sit for long periods at a time without performing daily hip stretches, we tighten all the muscles of our hips. Beyond that, we typically underuse these muscles which leads to weakness that becomes coupled with tightness.
Need to get to work? Try these 4 Hip-Opening Yoga Poses You Can Do While Working on Your Laptop!

Here are 9 Yoga Hip Stretches to Help Loosen Up Your Tight Hips

Yoga has a multitude of hip stretches that specifically target the hips for increased mobility and flexibility. So, if you’re suffering from chronically tight hips, you’ve come to the right place for some relief.

Simple but wildly effective, Low Lunge targets the iliacus and psoas muscles to create length and flexibility in these powerhouse hip flexors. In this pose, the hip muscles can relax and release accumulated stress.
Unfamiliar with your hip flexors? Get to know your powerful psoas muscle better here!
Let’s try it:

  • Find Downward Facing Dog
  • Step your right foot forward between your hands, stacking your right ankle under your right knee, and release your back knee to the floor
  • Engage your core to gently lengthen your tailbone toward the earth and draw the crown of your head toward the sky
  • Reach your arms overhead as you soften the weight of your hips toward the earth
  • Breathe and hold for up to 1 minute on each side

2. Straight Leg Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana Variation)

Supported Bridge Pose is always a crowd pleaser, and this variation is a delightful stretch. Grab a yoga block (or an appropriate substitute) and get ready to release any tension stuck in your hip flexors.
Note: You control the intensity of your stretch with your block. Use the lowest level for least intensity, medium level for moderate intensity, or highest level for most intensity.
Let’s try it:

  • Begin lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor (about hip-distance apart and about one hand’s distance away from your seat)
  • Press down firmly into your shoulders and your feet to lift your hips off the floor
  • Slide your block underneath your sacrum (about at the bottom of your waistband) and rest the weight of your hips onto the block
  • Comfortably relax your arms and extend your right leg forward
  • Option to extend your left leg forward at the same time, or alternate sides
  • Breathe and hold for up to 1 minute (either legs together or one leg at a time)

3. Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)

Another juicy stretch, Lizard Pose stretches out and releases tight hip flexors. It can be intense, so keep your yoga block handy to place under your hands for less intensity.
Let’s try it:

  • Find Downward Facing Dog
  • Step your right foot forward, to the outside of your right hand, and lower your back knee to the floor
  • Engage your core and lengthen your spine
  • Bring your hands to the inside of your right foot, either on the floor or on a block
  • Option: lower to your forearms either on your block or on the floor
  • Breathe and hold for up to 1 minute on each side

4. Fire Log Pose (Agnistambhasana)

This posture can be quite intense for those with outer hip tightness. Fire Log Pose targets the outer hip muscles on both the right and the left side of the hip, and its rewards are oh-so-good.
Let’s try it:

  • Begin seated with your legs extended forward, and flex both feet at your ankles
  • Slide your right shin towards you so it becomes parallel with the top of your mat
  • Lift your left leg and stack your shin over your right, with your left ankle hanging just off the edge of your right knee
  • Elongate your spine and either stay in a tall seat or slowly fold forward over your legs
  • Breathe and hold for up to 1 minute on each side

5. Reclining Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose is a common hip opener but it tends to place the knee in a vulnerable position. Reclining Pigeon Pose gives you the same hip stretch as Pigeon, but with a lot more safety for your knees. So, if you have truly tight hips, this is the variation for you!
Let’s try it:

  • Begin lying on your back with your feet hip-distance apart on the floor
  • Lift your right leg, bend your knee, and flex your ankle
  • Cross your right ankle over your left knee (creating the shape of a figure-4 with your legs)
  • Either wrap a strap or interlace your fingers around the back of your left thigh as you lift your left foot off the floor and gently draw your knees toward your chest
  • As you draw your left leg toward you, press your right knee away from your body
  • Breathe and hold for up to 1 minute on each side

6. Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

This pose feels so good and is so comfortable, you could fall asleep in it . . . literally. Relax and lie down into this simple stretch to release your inner hips and thighs.
Let’s try it:

  • Begin lying on your back with your feet hip-distance apart on the floor
  • Relax your knees toward the outer edges of your mat as you draw the soles of your feet to touch
  • Slide your heels as close toward your groin as feels comfortable for you
  • Relax your arms anywhere that feels comfortable
  • Breathe and hold for up to 2 minutes

7. Frog Pose

The pose that everyone loves to hate, this intense inner hip and thigh opener will make you realize just how tight your hips can get.
Let’s try it:

  • Begin on all fours in Tabletop Pose
  • Keep your hips in the same line as your knees as you slowly glide your knees apart from each other (only go as far as feels comfortable)
  • Turn your toes toward the outer edges of your mat (so the arch of your foot rests on your mat)
  • Keep your core engaged to protect your low back and gently relax the weight of your hips toward the floor
  • Option to stay as you are, or lower your forearms to blocks or to the floor
  • Breathe and hold for up to 1 minute

8. Yogi Squat (Malasana)

Yogi Squat stretches both the inner and outer hips, making it a beautiful addition to any practice. While it requires a decent amount of flexibility to get into, you can always modify by sitting on a block or two to help distribute some of your body weight.
Let’s try it:

  • Stand with your feet at least as wide as your mat, with your toes slightly turned out
  • Keeping your knees stacked over your ankles, bend your knees and drop your hips as low as you can
  • Elongate your spine and engage your core
  • Relax the weight of your hips toward the floor
  • Breathe and hold for up to 1 minute

9. Side Lunge (Skandasana)

Side Lunge hits all major parts of your hips (and their neighbor muscles – the hamstrings!). Basically, Skandasana is your hips’ best friend. Just like in Malasana, you can always prop your hips on a block to help support your pose.
Let’s try it:

  • Face the long edge of your mat, and find a wide-legged stance (bring your feet as far apart as comfortable) with your toes slightly turned out
  • Keep your left leg straight, and bend deeply into your right knee, leaning your weight to the right to place your hands on the floor
  • Keep your right knee facing the same direction as your right toes
  • Flex your left foot and with your toes facing straight up to the sky
  • For an added balance challenge, draw your palms to meet at heart center in Anjali Mudra
  • Breathe and hold for up to 1 minute on each side

These Hip Stretches Will Not Only Change Your Hips – They’ll Change Your Body!

Because the hips play a huge role in just about every major movement of the body, it is important for them to be supple and mobile. By releasing tension and tightness within the hips with these hip stretches, you’ll open your body up to a world of change.
You may find other yoga poses become more accessible, and back pain may even magically disappear. If you’re like most people who have tight hips, releasing them with these hip stretches just may be your ticket to full body transformation.

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5 Yoga Poses to Open Up the Hips

Tight hips are one of the most common conditions in the Western Culture. This is due in large part to the fact that we sit in chairs for long periods of time, and because we generally do not sit in hip opening positions like a squat very often, if ever.

Tight hips can lead to a whole host of issues like lower back pain, misalignments in the spine, and can even lead to injury. The hip joints are actually very unique joints, known as ball and socket joints. This allows for a much greater range of motion than say the elbow joint or the knee joint.

That is why you need to open the front, back and sides of your hips to really get a good stretch. Here are my five favorite hip opening postures. I recommend that you warm up a little, and then hold each stretch for 30 seconds to a minute.

1. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Low lunge is one of the best postures you can do to open the front of your hips. This posture effectively reverses the normal position of the hips when you are sitting in a chair, which is exactly what most of us need, especially if you work in an office environment.

Begin in a normal lunge position, and then slowly lower your back knee to the ground. From here, you can push your hips forward to the degree that feels good for you.

Breathe and hang out, then practice on the other side.

2. Half King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

I can understand if you have a love/hate relationship with this posture. It can be very intense, and it can actually be dangerous for the knee if you do not have great alignment.

The best advice I can offer for this one is to start in Downward Facing Dog, and step one leg through to a lunge. Then, draw the front foot to the opposite long side of your mat, and place the outside of the foot on the mat, slowly lowering the rest of the leg down with your knee bent.

Then bring your heel in close to your opposite hip joint. Make sure to keep tension in the front foot, as this will protect your knee. Play around with moving your shin farther from your hips, but just be sure you are always keeping your foot tense.

3. Frog Pose (Bhekasana)

This is a great posture to help open up the inner groin/hip region. My favorite way to enter this posture is to start on hands and knees. Then slowly draw your knees away from one another, keeping your shins in line with your knees (rather than allowing your feet to draw in towards one another) as you lower your hips down towards the floor.

Keep your hips in line with your knees, rather than allowing them to move back towards your feet. Continue to move your knees farther away from one another.

Rest on your forearms, or all the way down on the mat if you can get there. Go slow with this one and allow your body to open in its own time.

4. Garland Pose (Malasana)

This is the king position for opening your hips and lower back. Start with your feet hip distance apart, or even slightly wider. Allow your feet to turn out 30 degrees or so if you are new to squatting.

Lower your body down, as though you were going to sit on a very small stool. You can extend your arms straight in front of you if you find it difficult to balance.

As you practice this posture, work to move your feet so that they are pointing straight out in front of you.

You can also play with bringing the feet in closer to one another as you progress. This pose has a million and a half benefits and will change your life if you practice it often!

5. Bound Angle Pose (Bhaddha Konasana)

This is a great posture to practice while you sit and watch TV or even while reading a book. Sit tall on your mat, then draw your knees up, placing your feet flat on the floor about 12 inches from your bottom.

Bring your feet together, as you allow your knees to drop to the side. Connect the soles of your feet. Inhale as you lengthen your spine once more. Then slowly move your heels in towards your groin, opening the inner hips.

You can also lean your chest forward towards your feet if you like, just be sure to maintain length in your spine.

Having supple, open hips will not only help you to avoid hip and back pain as you age, it can also help you to avoid hurting yourself in everyday life. Having a nice range of motion means that you will be so much less likely to really injure yourself if you fall, which is so important!

What is your favorite posture for hip health?

Yoga Hip Openers: 23 Simple Poses Most People Should Be Doing

by: Yuri Elkaim

We tend to live life with our hips locked up – and that’s not a good thing when it comes to pain, mobility, or even our emotions.

Nearly everything you do closes up your hip muscles: sitting at your desk, driving, watching TV, reading, and even working out.

Too much sitting in particular shortens the hip flexors, which limits your range of motion and contributes to low back pain and bad posture.

But that’s not all.

According to the tenets of yoga, tight hips can also affect your mind and emotional state. The hips are believed to be the holding place for negative emotions such as fear and sadness.

The yogic solution to both problems – physical and emotional – is to move prana, or energy, through the hips.

As a side effect, the hips are loosened, resulting in improved mobility, spinal flexibility, and possibly even improved mood.

Below is an extensive list of some of the best yoga hip-opening poses, so you can feel the difference having flexible hips will have on your mind and body.

23 of the Best Yoga Hip Openers

Note: some of these poses may require yoga blocks and/or a yoga strap, so make sure you’re stocked up before you hit the mat.

Gentle Level of Intensity:

1. Child’s Pose

Intensity: Gentle

  • Come into child’s pose by kneeling on your mat, touching your big toes together. Sit on your heels and widen your knees so that they’re hip-width apart.
  • Exhale and lower your chest toward the ground between your thighs. Extend your arms in front of you.
  • Feel the stretch through your quads, low back, hips, and shoulders as you rest here for 30 to 60 seconds.

Modifications: If you find your knees are hurting during this pose, or that the tops of your feet are uncomfortable, try rolling up a towel and placing it beneath the top of your ankles (this will keep their natural bend).

2. Cobbler’s Pose

Intensity: Gentle

  • Begin seated on your mat, spine straight. Exhale and bend your knees, drawing them toward your groin.
  • Let your knees fall to the side and press the soles of your feet together. Feel the stretch throughout your hips and inner thighs.
  • If you can go further, draw in your feet even closer to your groin by clasping your ankles and/or your big toe.
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Modifications: Sit on a folded blanket or mat beneath your groin and/or keep your ankles extended further away from you (yet still touching).

3. Happy Baby Pose

Intensity: Gentle

  • Begin by lying face-up on your mat, drawing in your knees toward your chest.
  • Press your lower back into the floor and grasp your feet along your outer soles. Gently pull down on your feet toward your armpits, widening your knees.
  • Hold for one minute (and smile!).

Modifications: Try coming into Half Happy Baby by bringing up only one leg and grasping the outer sole of your foot, while leaving the other extended. You can also clasp your ankles instead of the outer edges of your soles.

4. Reclining Goddess Pose

Photo Credit: Global Yoga Academy

Intensity: Gentle

  • Begin lying on your back on your mat, legs extended in front of you. Draw both knees up so that your feet are just behind your hips, then let your knees fall to either side.
  • Keep your soles pressed together as you hold for one minute.

Modifications: Place blocks or rolled up towels beneath your outer thighs for support.

5. Eye of the Needle

Intensity: Gentle

  • Begin on your back on your mat, knees bent and feet hip-width apart.
  • Draw up your right knee and place your right ankle across your left knee. Let your right knee relax to the side as you exhale and draw your left knee toward your chest.
  • Now reach up with your arms (keep you head on the map) and grasp your left thigh, pulling it toward your chest to deepen the stretch.
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Modifications: If you’re unable to grasp your bottom thigh, try using a yoga strap (wrap the strap around your thigh and use it to gently pull it toward your chest). You can also extend your lower leg further from your body, or even keep it touching the ground.

6. Warrior II

Photo Credit: Yoga Journal

Intensity: Gentle

  • Begin standing tall on your mat with your feet hip-width apart. Turn to one side and widen your stance by about 4 feet, making sure your feet are in alignment.
  • Turn your leading foot so that your toes are facing the front of your mat, while also turning in your other foot slightly (about 45 degrees).
  • Extend your arms out to parallel, palms facing down. Engage your core and bend your leading knee to a 90-degree angle. Be sure to keep your back foot on the floor.
  • Look out over your leading arm in front of you (finding a focal point helps with balance) and hold for 30 seconds before switching sides.

Modifications: Shorten your stance and avoid bending as deep into this pose until you increase your flexibility.

7. Modified Garland Pose

Photo Credit: Yoga Lily

Intensity: Gentle

  • Begin standing tall with your feet roughly as wide as your mat. Bend your knees and sink into your hips, coming into a squat.
  • Widen your thighs so that they are wider than your torso, but keep your feet grounded (you can place a towel beneath your heels if they lift). Lean forward slightly and press your elbows along the inside of your knees.
  • Bring your palms into prayer position and draw them to your heart. Keep your head up and spine lengthened.
  • Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, feeling the stretch in your hips as your elbows gently press against your inner thighs.

Modifications: Modify this pose even more by simply sinking into a wide squat and resting your elbows on your upper thighs. Sink lower as your flexibility increases, working toward getting your hands in prayer position at your heart center.

8. Downward-Facing Frog Pose

Photo Credit: Yoga Basics

Intensity: Gentle

  • Begin on all fours on your mat. Walk your knees out to your sides and turn your feet out to either side.
  • Lower to your elbows with your forearms and palms flat against the floor. Exhale and press your hips back slightly until you feel a stretch deep in your groin and hips.
  • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then rock forward and straighten your arms to bring your legs out of this pose.

Modifications: Walk your knees in until you’re comfortable and place towels beneath them to help with support.

9. Extended Leg Squat Pose

Intensity: Gentle

  • Begin by coming into a wide squat, feet turned out at a 45-degree angle. Press your hips down toward your heels and walk your feet out until your torso isn’t resting against your thighs.
  • Keeping your hands on the floor, extend your right leg to the side, letting your hips sink toward your left heel. If you can, lift your hands into prayer position at your heart and hold for 3 to 4 breaths.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

Modifications: Rest your hands on the floor for support, or modify further by placing yoga blocks beneath your hands.

10. Crescent Lunge Pose

Photo Credit: Love My Yoga

Intensity: Gentle

  • Begin standing tall on your mat. Step one foot forward and come into a lunge, bending your knee 90 degrees and keeping it directly over your toes.
  • With both feet pointed forward, lift your back heel off the floor as you sink into the lunge. Raise your arms over your head and gently press your hips forward, keeping them squared.
  • Hold for one minute, then come out of this by pressing through your front heel. repeat on the other side.

Modifications: Come into the low lunge version of this pose by lowering your back knee to your mat.

Moderate Level of Intensity:

11. Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose

Intensity: Moderate

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended in front of you, your yoga strap at the ready. Draw one knee in toward your chest and loop the strap around the ball of your foot.
  • Holding the band with both hands, gently straighten your leg, keeping the band as taut as needed.
  • Keep your feet flexed and both of your hips on the floor. At this point, for a deeper stretch, you can open your extended leg to the side.
  • Hold for one minute, then switch legs.

Modifications: At first, you may not be able to straighten your leg up to vertical. Keep it lower to make this pose easier. In addition, you can also bend your other extended leg.

12. Lizard Pose

Photo Credit: Gaia

Intensity: Moderate

  • Begin by coming into a lunge, your leading knee directly over your toe. Lower your back knee to the floor.
  • Sink into your hips and lower your forearms to the ground on the inside of your leading knee. Keep your head and chest raised.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Modifications: Stay in a low lunge, resting your hands on your leading knee. Alternatively, you can use a block to rest your arms on as your make your way closer to the ground.

13. Fire Log Pose

Photo Credit: Strong Fitness Mag

Intensity: Moderate

  • Begin seated on your mat. Place your left foot on top of your right knee, sliding your right foot forward until it is directly beneath the left knee.
  • Press your hips down, keeping your chest open and spine straight. You can stop here or exhale and lean your torso forward to deepen the pose.
  • Hold for one minute, then switch legs.

Modifications: Prop your top ankle on a yoga block and/or rest your top knee on another block.

14. Downward Dog Split

Intensity: Moderate

  • Begin by coming into Downward Facing Dog from all fours. You spine should be in a straight line from your head to your tailbone as you push your hips up and draw your belly in.
  • Spread your fingers and lift one leg, extending it up and behind you. Bend your knee and let your foot drape over your glute. Your outer hip will open slightly as your hip stretches open.
  • Hold for 5 to 6 breaths, then return to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on the other side.

Modifications: If you’re having trouble with this pose, focus on maintaining proper alignment in Downward Dog and building up your flexibility with one of the more gentle hip openers above.

15. Half Split

Intensity: Moderate

  • Begin by stepping into a low lunge with your right foot forward, toes directly beneath your knee. Lower your left knee to the ground.
  • Shift your weight from your right foot as you sit your hips back over your left knee.
  • Keeping your hips squared forward, lower your chest toward your right knee as far as you feel comfortable.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other leg.

Modifications: Place yoga blocks beneath your hands on either side of your hips, or feel the stretch without extending your chest toward your knee.

16. Lizard Lunge Twist

Intensity: Moderate

  • Step your right foot forward and come into a low lunge, dropping your left knee to the ground. Make sure your right knee stays behind your foot.
  • Grab your left foot by propping yourself up with your right hand and rotating toward your right leg. Gently continue to pull your foot toward you as you sink into your hips and the rotation. Look up to the sky.
  • Hold this pose for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Modifications: Place a block beneath the hand that touches the floor, and/or use a strap to pull your back foot toward you if your quads are tight.

17. Half Chair Ankle-To-Knee

Intensity: Moderate

  • Begin standing tall, feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and sit your hips back, as if you were about to sit in a chair. Lift your arms over your head to help with your balance.
  • Shift your weight to your left leg and draw your right leg up toward your chest, crossing your right ankle over your left knee.
  • Let your right knee fall open naturally as you hold this pose for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

Modifications: If you’re having trouble balancing here, focus on practicing one-legged Chair pose (simply lift and extend one leg slightly of the ground in front of you during Chair pose). If your hips are too tight to perform this pose, try performing Eye of the Needle pose (above) on the floor until you feel comfortable.

18. Half Moon Pose

Intensity: Moderate

  • Begin by taking a wide stance on your mat. Rotate your right foot forward toward the front of the mat and turn in your left foot slightly.
  • Extend your arms out to your sides to shoulder height. Now reach and extend forward over your right leg, letting your right hand rest on the floor or your ankle. Be sure your shoulders are stacked on top of one another. Look up toward your left palm.
  • You can stay here in Triangle pose, or shift your weight and place your right hand on the floor slightly in front of your right leg. Begin to lift your left leg, keeping your foot flexed, until it is in alignment with your top shoulder.
  • Stack your hips and open your torso, keeping your gaze skyward and chest open.
  • Hold here for 5 to 6 breaths, then lower and repeat on the other side.

Modifications: Rest your hand on a block if you can’t quite reach the floor during this pose. You can also do this pose with your foot in reach of a wall; let your soles touch the wall to help with balance if you need it.

19. Modified Cow Face Pose

Photo Credit: Fitness Goals

Intensity: Moderate

  • Begin seated with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your knees and bring your left foot beneath your right knee, sliding it to the outside of your right hip.
  • Hold here, or, instead of coming into the arm portion of this pose, try deepening the hip stretch by placing your palms on either side of your legs and leaning forward slightly.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Modifications: Prop your hips up on a towel to make the stretch through the hips less intense.

20. Seated Wide-Legged Forward Bend

Photo Credit: Yoga Newsletter

Intensity: Moderate

  • Begin seated on your mat, legs extended in front of you. Now, open your legs as wide as you feel comfortable.
  • Keeping your kneecaps and toes pointed toward the ceiling, press your legs into the floor. Begin to walk your fingers on in front of you, keeping your head and chest lifted. Only go as far as you feel comfortable.
  • If your flexibility allows, walk your fingers out until you can grasp your big toes.
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Modifications: Keep your legs closer together and/or hold this stretch without lowering your chest toward the floor.

21. Camel Pose

Intensity: Moderate

  • Begin kneeling on your mat, knees hip-width apart. Press the tops of your feet and shins to the floor.
  • Rest your hands on the back of your hips and slowly lean back, keeping your chin slightly tucked. Think about pressing your hips forward while keeping your glutes squeezed to protect your low back.
  • You can stay here or reach back and take hold of both heels. Be sure to lift upward and avoid pressing into your lower back. If you feel compression here, stop and perform the modification.
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Modifications: Hold this pose with your hands on the back of your hips. Alternatively, you can rest your hands on blocks on either side of your hips.

22. Pigeon Pose

Intensity: Moderate

  • Begin on your hands and knees on your mat. Draw your right knee up between your hands while extending your left leg behind you, the top of your foot and shin pressing into the floor
  • Lift your chest toward the sky and keep your spine straight. Focus on squaring your hips forward and lowering your tailbone toward the floor.
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Modifications: Place a block or folded towel beneath the hip of your front leg for support if your can lower all the way to the floor.

23. Full Lotus Pose

Intensity: Moderate

  • Begin sitting tall on your mat. Draw your right knee in toward your chest and bring your right ankle into the crease in your left hip. Make sure your sole is facing skyward.
  • Now bend your left knee, crossing your left ankle over your right shin. Rest your ankle in your other hip crease.
  • Draw your knees together and press your hips into the floor. Rest your hands on your knees, palms facing the sky.
  • Hold for one minute, then slowly come out of this pose and repeat with the opposite foot on top.

Modifications: Place a towel or blanket beneath both of your knees if they don’t quite reach the floor.

Consistent Practice Equals Open Hips

Add several of these poses into your weekly asanas, or even just as an addition to your workout routine.

You’ll notice an increase in flexibility and mobility during even simple movements, such as lunges, once your hip flexibility increases.

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Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.

Hip opening poses should be included in your routine to increase your range of motion, relieve tight muscles and even prevent back pain.

Photo: 123rf.com

The pelvic region plays a key role in body movements as it is where your body hinges from. Sitting for too long, leaning more weight on one foot, and overexercising can cause them to get tight or injured. Incorporate these hip opening yoga poses into your practice to increase your range of motion for daily activities and relieve tight muscles.

(Also read: 7 Easy Stretches You Must Do Every Morning)

Yoga squat

This basic pose is a wide stance squat with your hips as low as possible. It helps to relax the legs and glutes while stretching the inner thigh.

Start with feet mat’s distance apart. Turn toes 45 degrees outwards. Squat and bring hips down. Relax in the pose for one minute.

Scale it down: If this is too challenging and you find it hard to lower your hips or heels, try bringing your feet closer together.

(Also read: 7 Different Squat Exercises You Need To Do For A Toned Butt)

High lunge

A stationary high lunge stretches and strengthens. The front leg has to stay active to support the body while the back leg gets a good stretch all over.

Stand with feet together. Take a big step forward with your right foot. The right knee should be bent at 90 degrees. Keep your left leg straight with your knees and heels off the floor. Stay for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Scale it down: If you are unable to support your weight, opt for the next pose, the low lunge, instead.

(Also read: 10 Lunge Variations For Longer And Leaner Legs)

Low lunge

For a deeper leg stretch, try a low lunge. This is similar to the high lunge but it helps to stretch the front leg’s hamstrings and the back leg’s quads. It is also a more stable and less strenuous pose if you are unable to hold a high lunge.

Start in high lunge pose. Lower the back knee. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Scale it down: Place towel or mat under your back knee for cushioning if needed. Keep your front leg engaged to take the pressure off your knee. You can also tuck in your back toes to the mat for less pressure on your back knee.

(Also read: How to Do Lunges Without Hurting Your Knees)

Lizard pose

The lizard pose helps to give the hamstrings and hip flexors a deeper stretch. It is also great a great stretch for the inner thigh as you can repeat this pose at various angles.

Start in a high lunge. Place hands beside front feet. Bounce softly. Place elbows down for a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Turn front foot 45 degrees and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat the process on the other side to complete.

Scale it down: For those with tight hips, bring your front leg behind your elbow and bring it closer to your body. Bounce and move side to side to release tension.

Scale it up: If you want a deeper stretch, lift the arch of your front foot and tilt it to the side. Keep rocking your body to push the front knee as far away from your body as possible.

(Also read: Best Floor Stretches For Runners with Tight Muscles)

Pigeon pose

The pigeon pose helps to stretch the upper and outer thigh and can be adjusted based on your flexibility.

Start in a downward dog. Bring your right knee behind the right wrist and right ankle to left wrist. Keep thighs and butt on the floor. Hold for one minute. Repeat on other side to complete.

Scale it down: You can bring your front foot closer to the body if this stretch is too much for your hips and thighs.

Scale it up: On the other hand, if you’re flexible, move your front foot away such that your knees are angled at more than 90 degrees. You can also prop your front foot on a block.

(Also read: 7 Health Benefits Of Stretching That Will Make You Want to Stretch Every Day)

Double pigeon

Target the back and side of the thigh with the double pigeon. It helps to further relax the top leg as the bottom leg acts as a block for added height.

Start in a cross-legged sitting position. pigeon pose. Stack your left ankle over the right knee, and your left knee over the right ankle. Lean forward slowly as much as you can. Hold for one minute. Switch sides.

(Also read: VIDEO: 5 Stretches That Runners Who Have Super Tight Muscles Must Do)

Side split

This is a classic pose that stretches the upper leg muscles and butt.

Stand up and lean forward. Place hands on floor and slide legs away from each other as much as possible. Flex toes to stretch calves or relax for a thigh stretch. Hold for one minute.

Scale it down: If you are unable to sit in a straight line, simply bring your legs closer together until you reach a comfortable position. Then, open them slightly to give yourself a stretch.

Scale it up: If you can relax in a side split, challenge yourself by placing your feet up on blocks. This will put you in a split that is deeper than 180-degrees.

(Also read: Sculpt Your Whole Body With These Strength-Training Exercises)

Frog pose

The frog pose is like an intense pose for the inner thighs so do this at your own pace.

Start with both legs splayed outwards with knees bent at 90 degrees. Lean forwards till your forearms and elbows are on the floor. Hold for a minute. Allow your tummy to sink deeper towards the floor as you get comfortable. Remember to take regular deep breaths.

Scale it down: Bring your knees behind your hips and let your elbows support your body weight.

(Also read: Easy Ways to Do Yoga in Bed)

Front split

Front splits look difficult, but they are usually easier than side splits as they require less external rotation.

You can start in a low lunge position – rest your back knee and top of the foot to the floor and extend your right foot as much as possible to the front while straightening your right leg. You may rest your hands on blocks if needed.

Rock back and forth to feel the stretch in both legs. With regular practice, you’ll be able to fo a full split.

(Also read: 5 Calf Stretches That Every Runner Should Do)

Tight hips are a common problem these days. Activities that emphasize the lower legs, such as running, biking, and jumping, can cause the outer hips to tighten. Time spent sitting at desks, in cars, and on the couch can cause the frontal hip flexors to become stiff. Like hamstrings, hips can get tight by both overuse and underuse. Yoga can help to increase your hip flexibility, which will create a greater range of motion for all of your movements and activities. Here is a short routine for beginners to start increasing hip flexibility. It’s important to remember that yoga is not a competition! Have fun and take it easy. Over time, you’ll gain all of the benefits yoga has to offer.

The Sequence

It should take about 20 minutes to complete all of the poses. Practice the sequence daily and take it slow. Tight hips might take a while to loosen, but you’ll risk injury to your groins or thighs if you try to force them open. Always remember these general guidelines for practicing yoga:

  • Move slowly in and out of the poses.
  • Keep your breath smooth and even throughout the practice.
  • Practice with an empty stomach.
  • Never strain or force yourself beyond your current abilities.

Stick to the exact order of this sequence. Do not change the arrangement of the poses. It has been organized to bring you the most benefits. Be sure to check with your doctor before practicing yoga if you have any injuries, health issues, or concerns.

1. Low Crescent Lunge

This modified variation on Crescent Lunge — Anjaneyasana (AHN-jah-nay-AHS-uh-nuh) — stretches the hip flexors and thighs, while also helping to open the abdomen, chest, and shoulders.

  1. Begin standing at the top of your mat. Bend your knees, fold forward, and place your hands on the mat. Then, step your left foot to the back of the mat.
  2. Align your right knee over the heel of your right foot.
  3. Lower your left knee to the floor and slide your leg back a few inches. Un-tuck your left toes and rest the top of your left foot on the floor.
  4. Inhale as you raise your torso to an upright position. Sweep your arms overhead. Draw your tailbone toward the floor. Gaze up at your thumbs.
  5. Hold for up to one minute. Step both feet forward to the top of the mat again, and come to a full standing position. Repeat on the other side.

2. Extended Triangle Pose

A standard pose in many yoga styles, Extended Triangle — Utthita Trikonasana (oo-TEE-tah tree-koh-NAH-suh-nuh) — tones the legs and stretches the hips, groins, and hamstrings. It also opens the chest and shoulders, and helps to relieve lower back pain, stress, and sluggish digestion.

  1. Begin standing at the top of your mat. Turn to the left and step your feet wide. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Your feet should be as far apart as your wrists. Rotate your right (front) foot 90 degrees, so your front foot’s toes point to the top of the mat. Turn your left toes in slightly. Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot.
  2. Reach through your right hand in the same direction that your right foot is pointed. Shift your left hip back, and then fold sideways at the hip. Rest your right hand on your outer shin or ankle. If you are more flexible, place your fingertips on the floor. You can also place your hand on a block.
  3. Align your shoulders so your left shoulder is directly above your right shoulder. Gently turn your head to gaze at your left thumb.
  4. Hold for up to one minute. To release, inhale and press firmly through your left heel as you lift your torso. Lower your arms, change the position of your feet, and repeat on the opposite side.

3. Tree Pose

A popular balancing pose, Tree Pose —Vrksasana (vrik-SHAH-suh-nuh) — stretches the hips, thighs, torso, and shoulders. It builds strength in the ankles and calves, and helps remedy flat feet.

  1. Begin standing with your feet together. Slightly shift your weight to your left foot. Bend your right knee, then reach down and clasp your right ankle. Use your hand to draw your right foot alongside your inner left thigh. Do not rest your foot against your knee, only above or below it.
  2. Rest your hands on your hips and lengthen your tailbone toward the floor. Fix your gaze softly in front of you. Press your right foot into your left thigh.
  3. For a deeper pose, extend your arms above your head, reaching your fingertips towards the sky. To deepen your pose even more, try closing your eyes.
  4. Hold for up to one minute. Step your feet together again, and then repeat on the opposite side.

4. Easy Pose with Support

Sometimes called “Simple Cross-Legged Pose with Support,” this pose — Salamba Sukhasana (sah-LAHM-bah soo-KAHS-uh-nuh) — stretches the hips, knees, and ankles, while also strengthening the back. Sitting upright with your spine aligned reduces stress and anxiety.

  1. Sit on the edge of a firm blanket, or on a block, bolster, or meditation cushion. Cross your legs in front of you at the shins.
  2. Balance your weight evenly across your sit bones. Align your head, neck, and spine. Lengthen your spine, but soften your neck. Relax your feet and thighs.
  3. Hold for up to one minute, breathing gently and evenly.
  4. Release and change the cross of your legs.

HOT TIP: Prop Yourself Up!

Don’t sit flat on the floor! Sitting with your hips above the level of your knees greatly reduces stress and strain on your hips, knees, and back. Sitting propped up will also help open your groins and bring your spine into proper alignment. So, sit as high as you need to let your knees drop open easily — on a blanket, a pile of firm blankets, a bolster or block, or a meditation pillow. Experiment with various heights of support to find the one that is most appropriate for you.

5. Bound Angle (or Cobbler’s) Pose

Bound Angle Pose, also known as Cobbler’s Pose — Baddha Konasana (BAH-duh cone-AHS-uh-nuh) — is a seated posture that opens the hips, groins, knees, and inner thighs. It also improves circulation and blood flow throughout the body, and helps to calm the mind.

  1. Begin seated with your spine straight and your legs extended in front of you on the mat. Rest your arms at your sides with your palms on the mat.
  2. Bend your knees and draw your heels in toward your pelvis. Press the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop open to both sides.
  3. Clasp your big toes with your first two fingers. Press the outer edges of your feet firmly together and into the floor.
  4. Sit up straight. Extend through the length of your entire spine through the crown of your head.
  5. Gaze softly straight ahead, or at the tip of your nose.
  6. Hold the pose for up to five minutes. To release the pose, first let go of your toes. Then, gently lift your knees and extend your legs once again along the floor.

6. Reclined Bound Angle Pose

This supine, or lying-down, version of the previous pose — Supta Baddha Konasana (SOOP-tah BAH-duh cone-AHS-uh-nuh) — stretches the hips, groins, and inner thigh muscles even further. It also opens the chest and improves oxygen flow, while deeply relaxing the whole body.

  1. Begin in the previous pose, Bound Angle (or Cobbler’s) Pose (Baddha Konasana).
  2. Lean backward and bring your elbows to the floor. Then, lower your back all the way to the floor.
  3. Gently shift your buttocks from side to side, adjusting your position so your spine lengthens along the floor while maintaining the natural curve of the lower back.
  4. Draw your shoulder blades gently inward and let your arms relax with your palms facing up.
  5. Relax your buttocks and lengthen your tailbone toward your heels.
  6. Close your eyes. Let your awareness become fully internal.
  7. Let your breath occur naturally. Allow your body to feel heavy.
  8. Stay here for 1-10 minutes. To come out of the pose, draw your knees together. Then, roll to your right side and use your hands to press yourself up to a comfortable seated position.

Open Your Hips with Ease

Tight hips can be a nuisance, but be patient. Practice stretching your hips every day, and be sure to modify the poses as needed, depending on your current flexibility. Over time, your muscles will begin to relax, open, and lengthen!

I’ve been playing with this delicious hip opening sequence this week.

This sequence is a well-rounded flow yoga class for all levels that take an “around the world” tour of the hips: opening the front, sides, and back of the hip joint. Rather than sequencing to a peak pose, this anatomical intention of this sequence is rather to mobilize the hip joint in all directions.

Energetically, this sequence is lunar rather than solar. Solar energy is like a blast of sunlight: direct, fierce, and forceful. Lunar energy is more feminine; when we embrace the sacred power of the feminine, we invite surrender, receptivity, creativity, changeability. The strength of the moon is equally powerful, but she moves like water or air. Rather than focusing on long holds and fixed alignment, invite your students to move in spirals, loops, and undulations. This is an “unsticking” sequence, where practitioners find the energetic flow to release densities in the body.

A few tips:

  • Make sure they’re breathing. As this is a more cooling, lunar practice, you can invite exhales through the mouth rather than consistent ujjayi.
  • Every practitioner’s hips are different; students should be encouraged to embrace their own unique structure and capacity.
  • Focus on flow and feeling rather than getting poses “right”
  • Help practitioners get out of their head by playing music that invites movement and softness
  • Use juicy language to evoke a nourishing practice (words like yummy, delicious, nourish, sense, connect, enjoy, delve, carve, explore, etc)
  • Create a theme to get students out of the head and into a nourishing state of surrender/receptivity
  • Soft joints (bent knees, bent elbows: find more “buoyancy” in joints)
  • Props: two hard blocks, one chip foam block (for under knee in low lunge, or to sit upon)

If I had to choose a peak, it would be upright pigeon (more on the two pigeons here), but really the intention is the hips.

Sequence

Opening

  • Sukhasana
  • Add in cat/cow seated undulations, sufi grinds (make a circle through hips) – change legs and repeat
  • Cat/Cow
  • On forearms and knees, take hips in circles
  • Downward dog, forward fold, walk to front of mat, uttanasana, roll up Tadasana

Warming Up – Surya Namaskar

  • Surya namaskar A x 3 (offer lots of modifications, etc, focus on breath)

Warming Up – Flow One

  • Do first part of surya namaskar, but step right foot back to low lunge
  • Low lunge flow: low lunge to half splits (flow between poses), probably hands on blocks
  • Step back three legged dog (open hip, do hip circles)
  • Step forward, come up to warrior two: flow exalted to side angle (focus on movement of hips)
  • Hands down, step forward to a baby standing split (standing leg bent)
  • Uttanasana, roll up, shoulder rolls etc
  • Repeat second side

Warming Up – Flow Two

  • Standing pigeon (standing ankle to knee, opening outer hip)
  • Release leg to step back to a high crescent lunge
  • High crescent lunge version 1: add side stretch
  • Hands down to blocks, keep back thigh lifted, flow from lunge to modified pyramid (similar to first flow but with back knee lifted)
  • Step back three legged dog
  • Step forward, hand to inside of front leg for side angle, option to bend elbow (making it a bit more like a modified lizard, as if you were going to bind – but don’t) Option to take top arm on giant circle.
  • Hands down, step front foot halfway back for a modified vasisthasana (turn on outer edge of back foot, you’ll be facing the right side of mat; this variation opens outer top hip)
  • Hands down to inside of foot, play with glueing front knee to outer right shoulder and taking baby chaturangas (arm balance prep)
  • Complete vinyasa, include a few breaths in an accessible backbend (sphinx, locust)
  • Step right foot to front of mat, standing splits
  • Uttanasana, roll up, shoulder rolls etc
  • Repeat second side

Intermezzo

  • Malasana
  • Bakasana

Warming Up – Flow Three

  • Standing pigeon (standing ankle to knee, opening outer hip), option for eka pada galavasana
  • Release leg to step back to a high crescent lunge
  • High crescent lunge version 1: add backbend
  • Hands down to inside of leg, lower back knee, lizard (option to lift leg)
  • Lift back leg, optional eka pada koundinyasana play
  • Step back three legged dog, open hip
  • Step forward side angle pose to half moon
  • Forward fold at top of mat
  • Uttanasana, roll up, shoulder rolls etc
  • Repeat second side

Working to Pigeon

  • Surya namaskar to downward facing dog
  • Lift right foot up, step forward: anjaneyasana with backbend and thigh stretch
  • Awkward pigeon (lizard with external rotation of front thigh to stretch outer hip)
  • Hands down, modified vasisthasana (turning to right)
  • Okay this part is a little wild:
    • Lower hips (facing side of mat)
    • Draw bottom leg in (right leg is on top in ardha matsyendrasana) – take twist (toward back of mat)
    • Stack knees (still facing side of mat): gomukhasana
    • Come out way you came in, but draw right knee into chest, extend leg under you to the left for Brigid’s Cross (right leg is straight out to side of mat, left leg back behind you, forward fold/twist towards front of mat; this creates big IT band stretch on right leg. Think revolved half moon – parivrtta ardha chandrasana – but laying on floor)
    • Come out the way you came in, optional wild thing
    • Downward dog
  • Second side

Backbends and Peak

  • Spinx to cobra (mobilize upper back)
  • Saddle or supta virasana
  • Upright pigeon – nom nom nom – feel free to do with hands on blocks and lifting UP into backbend (the backbend pictured may be a bit extreme for most folks). Practitioners should lift away from floor rather than sit into the left hip.

Cool Down

  • Cooling pigeon (or swan, figure four, etc)
  • Wide legged forward fold (upavista konasana)
  • Cobbler’s pose (baddha konasana)
  • Seated pranayama: chandra bhedhana (cooling, yum yum)
  • Savasana

Enjoy this yummy hip opening exploration!

Let me know if you have any questions at all. Happy Hips!

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Yoga pose for hips

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