HAPPY HIP OPENERS
A series of yoga asanas to open up tight hips.
Yes, so my hips are obscenely tight. The hips are an intricate machinery of 22 muscles working together. Of which, only 2 muscles listen to me. The other 20 are in complete rebellion.
I threw my back out a couple of years ago; a horrible muscle spasm that required bed-rest and physiotherapy to recover from. Before the injury I was working out quite regularly and doing a lot of intense yoga. As a result of this, my hips had slowly started opening up. But my back troubles set me right back to zero.
I'm now back to my regular practice as well as teaching yoga again. I try and dedicate some time in class to asanas for the hips. Tight hips are a common condition because of the hours we spend sitting and inactive. A lot of my clients have become more flexible in their backs and hamstrings, but their hips continue to remain tight.
This is a series of asanas that I practice, by my self and with clients, towards increasing hip flexibility and improving hip mobility.
One legged Pigeon Pose/Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana
Big love for the quadriceps and hips. This is one of those poses where you can really feel your hips opening up. Deep breathing helps with the tightness and lets my body to accept the stretch better.
Wide Child’s pose/Balasana
A delicious stretch for the back in addition to a gentle opening up of the quads and hips. I love how this pose persuades my hips and thighs to let go. A nice respite from some of the deeper and more intense stretches.
Cow Face Pose Gomukhasana
While I have no trouble sitting both my hip/sit bones down on the mat in Gomukhasana, I can’t properly stack my knees. But the more I practice, the more comfortable it gets. This is also a wonderful stretch for the arms, upper back and shoulders.
I both love and hate this one. I can feel it work deep within my hips, but it also makes me very aware of just how tight my hips are, and how much work I have to do. I work to keep my spine neutral. And I try and use every breath to push my knees further apart, even if it’s a milimeter at a time.
Half Lotus/Half Padmasana
Sitting cross-legged for long periods of time has been a challenge for me in the past. Half Padmasana works not just to lubricate my hip joints and stretch my quads, but also to lengthen and strengthen my spine.
Seated/Wide Straddle/Upavistha Konasana
Another hard one for me. I’ve been doing a combination of doing this pose facing a wall and using the wall to help work my feet wider apart as well as and working with a partner to help push open the inner thighs and the hips. I try and hold this one for longer periods, in the hope that sooner or later my body will give in.
Standing Straddle/Prasarita Padottanasana
My challenge here is to work my feet further away from one another in a wide straddle. My hamstrings are getting longer faster than my hips are opening up. But progress is progress. I’ve been adding twist variations to the pose to mix things up a bit.
Yoga Squat/Garland Pose/Malasana
Squatting is one of the best things you can do for your body. With the Yoga squat, (and the added blessings of the other hip openers) I can feel my hips sink lower. A grounding pose, the squat works my legs while convincing my hips to give in.
Lizard pose/Utthan Prithasana
Lunges are a beautiful exercise for length and strength in the legs, and I particularly enjoy the Lizard pose. Maybe it’s because I don’t struggle so much in it. Or perhaps, it’s because I can feel my quads, hips and hammies open up quicker when I do this asana. I also like the variations of open foot, open knee, etc. to keep it interesting.
There’s something incredibly complete about bringing the soles of your feet together. Variations of pulsing, folding forward and extending the pose in a supine position, etc. are helping my knees make it all way to the floor.