Whether you’re a couch potato, hardcore bicyclist, or simply sitting in an office chair all day long, chances are you’ve experienced the common problem of tight hips. Many people may feel that it is difficult to stretch this area and struggle to find relief. Good news! Yoga can help! Check out this sequence of eight hip-opening stretches, courtesy of POPSUGAR, to reduce the discomfort caused by tight hips. You can try them all, or pick your favorites to incorporate into your daily workout routine.
1. Happy Baby
Begin by lying flat on your back. Bend both knees, and hold the outside edges of your flexed feet with your hands. Keep your arms on the outsides of your legs. Gently use your upper-body strength to equally press both knees to the floor below your armpits. Try not to tense your shoulders or chest, but keep everything relaxed. Stay here for five deep breaths.
2. Extended Wide Squat
Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Bend your knees, and lower your hips down toward the ground. Bring your palms together at your heart centre, and firmly press your elbows against the inside of your knees. After five breaths, release the hands to the floor and walk them away from your feet to increase the stretch in the hips and lower back. Hold for another five breaths.
3. Open Lizard
Come into a lunge position with your right knee forward. Lower your left knee to the floor, and rest your hands on the ground under your shoulders. Slowly lower your right knee to the right so you’re resting on the outside of your right flexed foot. Keep your arms straight, pressing your chest forward to increase the stretch. Hold like this for five breaths, and then repeat on the left side.
4. Wide-Legged Split
From Wide Squat, place your hands on the floor in front of you and inch your feet apart, making sure to keep your heels wider than your toes. Keep the soles of your feet flat on the ground. As your hips get lower, you can prop yourself up with your forearms, and then move down to your shoulders (as shown). If your shoulders are on the ground, turn your head to the side, and rest your cheek on the ground. Stay here for five deep breaths, then walk your feet back together.
Sit on the ground, bend both knees, and bring your feet together. Using your hands, open your feet up like a book. Use your leg muscles to press your knees down toward the floor. Lengthen your spine, drawing your belly button inward. Relax your shoulders, and gaze either in front of you or toward your feet. Stay here for five breaths, and then slowly fold forward, drawing your torso toward your legs. Remember to try to keep your spine straight. Rest your hands on your feet, pressing your knees down with your arms, or if you want more of a stretch, extend your arms out in front of you. Stay here for another five breaths.
6. Head to Knee
Sit on the ground with your legs out in front of you. Bend your right knee, and pull the sole of your foot against your left inner thigh. Sitting with a tall spine, reach both hands to your left foot, and stack your torso on top of your left thigh. If you can’t reach your hands to your foot, rest your hands on your shin or knee. Try not to round your back. Stay here for at least five breaths, relaxing your shoulders away from your ears. Then do the other side.
Sit with your right knee bent and your left leg extended behind you. Pull the right heel in toward your left hip, or if your hips are more open, inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat. Stay here with your hands resting on your right thigh or your hips, or walk your hands out in front of you, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee. Hold here for at least five breaths. Repeat this pose with the left knee bent.
8. Double Pigeon
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your left knee, and place your knee, shin, and foot on the floor so they’re parallel with your pelvis. Bend your right knee, and place it on top so your knees, shins, and ankles are stacked. You’ll know you’re doing it right when you gaze down and see that your legs make a little triangle. Stay here for five breaths, slowly release, and then switch legs so your left knee is on top.