Yoga for Beginners, 6 Hip Opening Poses
Hey there beginner yogis! You may have found this post for a variety of reasons. Maybe you want to open the hips to help relieve lower back pain. Maybe you want to increase your flexibility to do splits.
Maybe your hips just feel so darn tight from sitting down all day long. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles have led us to increasingly tight hips because of all of the sitting down we do all day long.
- Sitting in the car on the way to work.
- Sitting at our desk at the office.
- Sitting in the car on our commute home from work.
- Sitting down to eat.
- And finally, sitting down on the couch to rest for the day.
This causes our hip muscles to tighten up and stay tightened over time. This is bad for our mobility, and it can lead to all sorts of aches and pains.
Even a little bit of light stretching in the hips every day can help relieve some of this built-up tension!
Yoga for Beginners, 6 Hip Opening Poses
Bound Angle Pose
This pose stretches the knees, thighs, and hips, and it’s a great pose to start with.
Begin by sitting with your knees bent and the bottoms of your feet touching together in front of you. Try to bring your heels as close to your body as you can, and place your hands on your feet in front of you.
Make sure your back is as straight as you can get it, and lean forward with your torso as you exhale.
Hold for 30 seconds, and focus on using your quadriceps to push your knees towards the ground as you lean forward.
Lotus (or Half Lotus) Pose
Lotus helps to open the hips, knees, and ankles. Half Lotus is a beginner variation and is what is pictured to the left. This is where you should start as a beginner.
Begin with your tailbone flat on the floor and your feet cross-legged in front of you. From here, use your hands to lift the left foot up to rest on top of the right thigh. You should feel some pressure in the hip, knee, and ankle of the left leg.
Try holding this position for 30 seconds, but release it if you feel too much pressure or any pain. Repeat on the other leg.
If you can perform Half Lotus without any strain or difficulty, you can try full Lotus. From the position outlined above, you will simply use your hands to pick up your left foot and place it to rest on top of the left thigh (while your right foot is still resting on the left thigh).
Now you should feel the same pressure in both hips, knees, and ankles. Hold for 3o seconds or as long as you feel comfortable.
Garland pose helps to open the hips as well as the ankles. It’s a good pose to practice if you are trying to increase flexibility in the ankles to improve your Downward Dog.
Lower yourself down to a squatting position with the palms of the hands touching each other at the heart. The elbows should be touching the insides of the knees.
Don’t worry if your feet don’t touch the ground completely. This comes with increased ankle flexibility.
To open up the hips further, pretend that the palms of your hands are opposing magnets. Use your hands and elbows to spread the knees further apart. You should feel the stretch in your hips.
Stay in this pose for 30 seconds if you can.
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This pose is great for hips as well as the thighs and the butt!
Step the feet 3 1/2 – 4 ft apart, and place the hands at the heart for balance. You can also point them towards the ceiling for an extra challenge and an exercise in posture.
Slowly sink down, and try to get your knees as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. Focus on tucking the tailbone and pushing it forward. This will cause you to feel it in your hips.
Try to hold this pose for 30 seconds. You will likely feel your quadriceps burning at the end of it!
(Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
This one is actually a one-legged variation of King Pigeon Pose, which is a much more advanced pose. It helps to stretch the muscles in the front of the hips and the outside of the hips.
Bend your left knee in front of you as you slide your right leg straight out behind you. The goal is to eventually be able to comfortably sit in this pose with the front leg bent at a complete 90-degree angle. This requires a lot of flexibility in the hips, so don’t worry if you are nowhere near that.
Place your hands on the floor in front of you or on either side of your knee and foot, and gently push towards the ground to feel the stretch in your back and the front of your right hip.
To bring the stretch more into the outside of your left hip, slowly lower the chest down towards the floor. Place your head on the ground or on your hands in front of you.
Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.
This is one of the best poses to open up the hips, and it’s especially important if you want to be able to do splits.
Try to keep your front leg bent as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. The foot of the outstretched leg can be flat on the ground or with the toes curled under as pictured.
Sink deeper into this stretch to increase the stretch in the hips. You can also point your hands towards the ceiling for an extra stretch in the shoulders and back.
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