Are you feeling tight in your hips, having trouble bending over to do basic everyday things? Tight hips come from sitting all day weather its at a desk working or watching tv. the more you sit, the more your hips become inflexible, due to shortening of the hip flexors at the front of the hip (these include psoas, rectus femoris and sartorisu), which causes tightening of the hip rotators (piriformis, obtruator internus and gamellus). You feel more locked up and even weighted down because your hips are so tense
We are going to learn the benefits of hip-openers and also the best hip-opening poses to do.
Did you know there are over 20 muscles that cross the hip (the collection of inner thigh muscles known as the adductors, the collection of outer thigh muscles known as the abductors, the hip flexors in front, deep lateral rotators in back, and more), so any movement that stretches any of these muscles could be considered a “hip-opener.” For this reason, we could argue almost every pose is effectively a “hip-opener.”
Hip openers tend to be both very challenging, but also very loved in a yoga practice. Even when they feel somewhat uncomfortable, pretty much everyone who keeps up a continuous practice grows to love them.
1 – Releasing Stress – One of the main benefits of hip openers is stretching and strengthening muscles that are directly connected to our stress response. One muscle in particular, the psoas, is a muscle that attaches the lumbar spine to the femur bone, and is triggered when we feel stress. So, even though we don’t really have much of a need to literally “fight” or “flight”, when the body experiences stress, the signal still travels to this muscle. So, you can see how this muscle can carry a great deal of residual tension and benefits greatly from being stretched with hip openers.
2 – Supporting Lower Back – Tight hips cause strain on the lower back by asking for too much effort from the spine. When hips are open, there is more range of movement, better circulation, and more support for the muscles of the back and the spine.
3 – Alignment – Hip openers can help the joints of the lower back, hips, and legs to come into better alignment. When hips are tight or causing misalignment, it can have a big effect on the back and on knees, and even feet. Working with strength and flexibility in the hips can help to re-align this supportive space for greater and stronger mobility.
4 – Expand Creativity – Energetically, the hips are associated with the sacral chakra or the creative center. If you think about it, the hips are what hold and support the reproductive organs–the organs of creation. So when we focus on this area in the body, we help to unlock this creative center and support it.
5. Build strength As we age, the risk of breaking a hip increases. The hip is the largest ball and socket join in the entire body. There’s a load of muscles working around the hips, that are essential to the movement of this joint. Any kind of movement of this area, including yoga poses can create a stronger frame for the joint – reducing the risk of injury.
For beginners, try:
1 Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.
2 Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.
3 Then with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis.
4 Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.
5 Downward dog is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It’s also an excellent yoga asana all on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes.
Half Moon Pose
1 Perform Half moon on the right side, with your left hand resting on the left hip. Inhale, bend your right knee, and slide your left foot about 6 to 12 inches forward along the floor. At the same time, reach your right hand forward, beyond the little-toe side of the right foot, at least 12 inches.
2 Exhale, press your right hand and right heel firmly into the floor, and straighten your right leg, simultaneously lifting the left leg parallel (or a little above parallel) to the floor. Extend actively through the left heel to keep the raised leg strong. Be careful not to lock (and to hyperextend) the standing knee: make sure the kneecap is aligned straight forward and isn’t turned inward.
3 Rotate your upper torso to the left, but keep the left hip moving slightly forward. Most beginners should keep the left hand on the left hip and the head in a neutral position, gazing forward.
4 Bear the body’s weight mostly on the standing leg. Press the lower hand lightly to the floor, using it to keep your balance. Lift the inner ankle of the standing foot strongly upward, as if drawing energy from the floor into the standing groin. Press the sacrum and scapulas firmly against the back torso, and lengthen the coccyx toward the raised heel.
5 Stay in this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then lower the raised leg to the floor with an exhalation, and return to standing pose Then perform the pose to the left for the same length of time.
1Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips.
2 Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your sacrum across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points toward the navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.
3 Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back.
4 Childs pose is a resting pose. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Beginners can also use childs pose to get a taste of a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs. Stay in the pose from 1 to 3 minutes.
Warrior one pose
1 Stand in Mountain Pose With an exhale, step or lightly jump your feet 31/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms perpendicular to the floor (and parallel to each other), and reach actively through the little-finger sides of the hands toward the ceiling. Firm your scapulas against your back and draw them down toward the coccyx.
2 Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out 90 degrees to the right. Align the right heel with the left heel. Exhale and rotate your torso to the right, squaring the front of your pelvis as much as possible with the front edge of your mat. As the left hip point turns forward, press the head of the left femur back to ground the heel. Lengthen your coccyx toward the floor, and arch your upper torso back slightly.
3 With your left heel firmly anchored to the floor, exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle so the shin is perpendicular to the floor. More flexible students should align their right thigh parallel to the floor.
4 Reach strongly through your arms, lifting the ribcage away from the pelvis. As you ground down through the back foot, feel a lift that runs up the back leg, across the belly and chest, and up into the arms. If possible, bring the palms together. Spread the palms against each other and reach a little higher through the pinky-sides of the hands.
Keep your head in a neutral position, gazing forward, or tilt it back and look up at your thumbs.
5 Stay for 30 seconds to a minute. To come up, inhale, press the back heel firmly into the floor and reach up through the arms, straightening the right knee. Turn the feet forward and release the arms with an exhalation, or keep them extended upward for more challenge. Take a few breaths, then turn the feet to the left and repeat for the same length. When you’re finished return to mountain pose
Bound eagle Pose
1 Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, raising your pelvis on a blanket if your hips or groins are tight. Exhale, bend your knees, pull your heels toward your pelvis, then drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together.
2 Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you comfortably can. With the first and second finger and thumb, grasp the big toe of each foot. Always keep the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor. If it isn’t possible to hold the toes, clasp each hand around the same-side ankle or shin.
3 Sit so that the pubis in front and the tailbone in back are at equal distances. from the floor. the pelvis in a neutral position. Sit up straight.
4 Never force your knees down. Instead release the heads of the thigh bones toward the floor. When this action leads, the knees follow.
5 Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes. Then inhale, lift your knees away from the floor, and extend the legs back to their original position.
For Intermediate to advanced
Happy Baby Pose
1 Lie on your back. With an exhale, bend your knees into your belly.
2 Inhale, grip the outsides of your feet with your hands (if you have difficulty holding the feet directly with your hands, hold onto a belt looped over each sole.) Open your knees slightly wider than your torso, then bring them up toward your armpits.
3 Position each ankle directly over the knee, so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex through the heels. Gently push your feet up into your hands (or the belts) as you pull your hands down to create a resistance
- Begin in a table top shape facing the long edge of your mat.
- Walk your knees out wider than your hips. Flex your feet so your toes face outward and your heels are directly behind your knees.
- Option to place additional padding (e.g. blanket) under your knees or walk your knees closer together.
- Walk your hands forward a little or a lot. If you have room, place your forearms on a block or on the ground.
- Reach the crown of your head forward and your tailbone back. Keep your hips in the same plane as your knees (if you saw yourself from the side, knees would look like they’re under you hips).
- Lift your belly away from the ground.
- Hold for up to two minutes, then gently release to child’s pose.
One-legged pigeon pose
1 Begin on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips, and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Slide your right knee forward to the back of your right wrist; at the same time angle your right shin under your torso and bring your right foot to the front of your left knee. The outside of your right shin will now rest on the floor. Slowly slide your left leg back, straightening the knee and descending the front of the thigh to the floor. Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor. Position the right heel just in front of the left hip.
2 The right knee can angle slightly to the right, outside the line of the hip. Look back at your left leg. It should extend straight out of the hip (and not be angled off to the left), and rotated slightly inwardly, so its midline presses against the floor. Exhale and lay your torso down on the inner right thigh for a few breaths. Stretch your arms forward.
3 Then slide your hands back toward the front shin and push your fingertips firmly to the floor. Lift your torso away from the thigh. Lengthen the lower back by pressing your tailbone down and forward; at the same time, and lift your pubis toward the navel. Roll your left hip point toward the right heel, and lengthen the left front groin.
4 If you can maintain the upright position of your pelvis without the support of your hands on the floor, bring your hands to the top rim of your pelvis. Push heavily down. Against this pressure, lift the lower rim of your rib cage. The back ribs should lift a little faster than the front. Without shortening the back of your neck, drop your head back. To lift your chest, push the top of your sternum straight up toward the ceiling.
5 Stay in this position for a minute. Then, with your hands back on the floor, carefully slide the left knee forward, then exhale and lift up and back into Downward Facing Dog Pose Take a few breaths, drop the knees to all-fours on another exhalation, and repeat with the legs reversed for the same length of time.
- Begin in Downward-Facing Dog. On an exhale, step your right foot forward to the outside (pinky finger) edge of your right hand. Both arms should be to the left of the right leg.
- Lower your left knee down onto the ground and release the top of your left foot. Take a look down to ensure that the right knee isn’t moving past the right ankle, and distribute the weight evenly across both hips.
- Sink your weight down into your hips and check in with your body. If you feel comfortable, lower down onto both forearms. Keep the chin lifted and the chest open.
- To move even deeper into the pose, curl your left toes under and press up into the ball of the left foot. Actively lift the inner left thigh and press the left heel back while reaching the chest forward.
- Remain in your expression of the pose for 5 to 10 breaths. To come out, plant your palms down on the mat and step your right foot back to Downward-Facing Dog, resting there for several breaths before repeating on the other side.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended, spine straight, and arms resting at your sides.
- Bend your right knee and hug it to your chest. Then, bring your right ankle to the crease of your left hip so the sole of your right foot faces the sky. The top of your foot should rest on your hip crease.
- Then, bend your left knee. Cross your left ankle over the top of your right shin. The sole of your left foot should also face upwards, and the top of your foot and ankle should rest on your hip crease.
- Draw your knees as close together as possible. Press your groins toward the floor and sit up straight.
As you start with the beginner poses it won’t take long before your ready to move into the intermediate poses. Remember don’t force the poses. Be sure to hold the poses for 3-5 breaths.
What to do next?
Get started Building your flexibility
If you enjoyed this article please read my article
Top 5 Yoga poses for bad knees.