5-Minute Hip Opener Yoga Sequence
Tight hips? Try these yoga poses.
Tight, stiff hips are a common complaint among those who practice yoga and want to get into poses that require more flexibility. Some seated or reclined poses can help improve your hip flexibility, but did you know that stronger standing poses can also be very effective at increasing mobility in your hip joints? To get the full effect, it’s important to learn to engage certain muscles while simultaneously relaxing others. This will be the key to opening your hips to improve your flexibility and your yoga practice, overall.
Check out the 5-minute yoga sequence below.
Start in a Warrior II stance by bringing your left foot forward and your right foot back, aligning the front heel with your back arch. Bend deeply into your left knee until the knee is stacked over the ankle and the thigh is almost parallel to the ground. The hip opening comes from actively engaging the glutes to help the left knee press open towards the little toe side of your foot. Keep actively pressing into your back foot as you reach the arms out, palms facing down towards the floor. Stay in this pose for a few breaths and feel free to flow into exalted warrior to stretch the side waist.
From Warrior II, bring your back foot in a few inches to narrow your stance and straighten your front leg to move into Triangle pose. As you send your hips back, lean your chest forward without dipping towards the ground. Align your right shoulder over the left and stay long through the spine. Press firmly into both feet and feel the legs engage as you breathe into the pose. Keep pulling your right hip back to get a nice stretch into the side of the hip and waist. The goal of this pose is not necessarily to get your hand all the way to the floor but to instead stay long through the torso as you stretch into the hips and hamstrings.
Come out of Triangle pose and step to the top of your mat. Stand on your left leg as you cross your right ankle over the top of your left thigh. Be sure to keep your right foot flexed to protect your knee. As if you were sitting down in a chair, start moving your hips back while leaning your chest forward until you get a nice stretch into your right hip and glute. For most people this will be intense enough, but if you’d like to go deeper, you can drop your hands to the floor instead of keeping the chest lifted.
From your Standing Pigeon pose, straighten the left leg and pull your right knee in towards your belly, either by holding on to the back of the thigh or the front of the shin. Keep the spine straight as you use your arms to pull your right thigh a bit closer towards you, stretching deeply into the hip flexors. Notice if you’re gripping the floor with your toes – instead, evenly distribute the weight through all four corners of your left foot. Play with the opposing forces of grounding into that left foot while lengthening the spine by reaching through the crown of the head. Hold for a few breaths and repeat the sequence from Warrior II on the second side.
To get into this variation of Temple pose, step your feet wide with heels in and toes out. Bring your palms to your thighs as you bend the knees generously to drop the hips. Use your hands to help the knees open up wider and stretch deeper into the inner groin. To get a shoulder release at the same time, drop your right shoulder down, pressing into your right hand, and pull the left shoulder back. Take a few breaths and switch sides by dropping the left shoulder down and pulling the right shoulder back. Hold for a few breaths, then move slowly out of the pose by straightening the legs.
All images courtesy of Kassandra Reinhardt.