Hip-openers are some of the most requested asanas in yoga classes because they bring release in many areas that are tight. When your hips are tight, it increases the load placed on the spine at all times. From simple tasks like bending down to pick something up to weight exercises like leg lifts, your spine is constantly needing to overcompensate for the lack of mobility in our hips.
Hip-opening yoga postures can help to prevent and reduce these issues and boost the overall health of the practitioner. Here are 6 easy hip-opening yoga poses you can try. While these poses are simple enough for newbies, it’s always better to perform yoga under the supervision of a certified teacher.
1. Low Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Begin in Downward-Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana. On an exhale, step your right foot forward between your hands. Lower down onto your left knee and release the top of the left foot on the ground.
Ensure that the right knee is stacked directly over the right ankle, and isn’t moving forward toward the toes or outward to the left or right (this protects the knee from injury).
Keep the knee directly over the ankle if it feels like enough for your body—you should feel a comfortable stretch along the left front thigh and groin.
Take your fingertips to the ground on either side of your hips (you can also rest both hands on the front knee if taking the fingertips down feels like too much) and relax your shoulders away from your ears.
As you continue to breathe deeply, soften the weight of your body down into your hips, and draw your tailbone down toward the ground.
Feel free to remain here, with your hands on your knee or your fingertips beside you for support, or experiment with extending one or both arms up alongside your ears and moving into a backbend (as shown above).
Take five to 10 breaths in your expression of Low Lunge, whatever that might look like. To come out of the pose, tuck your back toes under, plant your palms down on the mat, and make your way back into Downward-Facing Dog. Then repeat on the other side.
2. Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
Begin this pose with Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Then exhale and spread your legs to place them at a distance of around 4 feet from each other.
Now stretch your arms out sideways, while ensuring that they are corresponding to the floor. The palms should face downwards.
Turn the right foot outwards at an angle of 90° degrees, while turning your left foot inwards towards the right. Both heels should be in alignment.
Now tighten your thigh muscles turning the right thigh outwards. The centers of your right knee and right ankle should be corresponding with each other.
Start bending your body from your hip towards the right and over your right leg. To maintain your balance while doing this, dig your left heel into the floor. This will help to strengthen your left leg.
Twist your body to the left and make sure that both sides remain long. Push your left hip slightly in a forward direction and ensure that you lengthen your tailbone towards your heel.
Keep your right hand on your ankle or shin or on the floor without changing the yoga pose in any way. Stretch your left arm up towards.
Keep your head in a straight or turn it slightly towards the left. Hold this position for either 30 seconds or 1 minute.
3. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Begin standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), with your arms at your sides. Distribute your weight evenly across both feet.
Shift your weight to your left foot. Bend your right knee, then reach down and clasp your right inner 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. Adjust your position so the center of your pelvis is directly over your left foot. Then, adjust your hips so your right hip and left hip are aligned.
Rest your hands on your hips and lengthen your tailbone toward the floor. Then, press your palms together in prayer position at your chest, with your thumbs resting on your sternum.
Fix your gaze gently on one, unmoving point in front of you. Draw down through your left foot. Press your right foot into your left thigh, while pressing your thigh equally against your foot.
Inhale as you extend your arms overhead, reaching your fingertips to the sky. Rotate your palms inward to face each other. If your shoulders are more flexible, you can press your palms together in prayer position, overhead.
Hold for up to one minute. To release the pose, step back into Mountain Pose. Repeat for the same amount of time on the opposite side.
4. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Take one or two thick blankets and fold them so that they form a firm, flat base that you can sit on. Sit close to one edge of the support you formed, with your legs stretched out ahead, in front of you.
Cross your shins and widen your knees, so that you can slip each foot, beneath the opposite knee. Bend your knees and fold your legs towards your torso.
Keep your feet relaxed, so that the outer edges rest on the floor and the inner arches are settled below the opposite shin.
Your thighs and crossed shins should form a small triangle. There should be a gap between your pelvis and feet. Sit with your pelvis in a neutral position.
To do this, press your hands against the floor and lift your sitting bones a bit. Try to hang in there for a breath or two and then slowly lower yourself back on to the floor.
Balance your tailbone and pubic bone in such a way that they are equidistant from the ground. Place your hands on your knees, palm down and lengthen your tailbone towards the floor.
5. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Begin in Easy Pose or Staff Pose, sitting comfortably with your sit bones flat on the mat. Draw your heels toward your pelvis. Place the soles of the feet together.
Clasp around your feet/toes with interlaced fingers. Relax your groin to open your knees, and watch as they begin to melt towards the mat.
Subtly rotate your pelvis so you rest on the top of your sit bones, and extend through the spine.
Actively ground down into the earth as you simultaneously extend out through the crown of your head — one long line of energy from your sit bones through your crown. Hold for 3-5 minutes.
6. Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Lie down comfortably on your back, with your legs extended and your arms at your sides, palms face up toward the ceiling.
Bend your knees to bring the soles (bottoms) of your feet together to touch. The outer (pinky toe) edges of your feet should be resting on the mat. Let the legs fall open and allow gravity to support the weight of the legs.
Check in with your body. If your hips and groin are feeling tight, you can take your feet further away from your body; alternatively, if you’re feeling more open, you can bring your feet closer toward your body to deepen the stretch.
Relax your shoulders away from your ears and allow your back body to sink more deeply into the mat. Stay in the pose anywhere from one to five minutes, depending on your level of comfort.
To come out of the pose, take the palms of the hands on the outer thighs to gently fold the legs together, and bring the soles of the feet flat down on the mat. Then, hug your knees into your chest and gently rock from side to side to release the low back.