7 Yoga Poses for Hips
Tight hips are a common problem for most people. The hip tightness is caused by prolonged periods of sitting, either at work, in front of a computer, watching TV, eating your meals or driving. This abundance of sitting shortens and tightens the group of muscles called your hip flexors. These muscles connect your thighbones to your pelvis and spine. Discomfort may occur anywhere in your hips or lower spine.
Being an athlete can also cause tightness in the hip area. Running, walking, cycling and hiking increases strength in the hip flexors, but doesn't stretch them. Sports like golf, tennis or baseball can also cause hip issues, as you're always swinging in one direction, and not the other. This causes muscular imbalances along the hips and spine.
Athletes who include yoga as part of their work out routine find an improvement of joint discomfort, as well as overall performance. Here's a video of 7 yoga postures that you can practice at home to help open up your hips and stretch out your hip flexors.
Be sure to hold each pose for at least a minute for best results. If you feel any sharp pains while you're in a posture, then it's a signal to back off. It's important to listen to your body, and do what you can, especially if you're a beginner.
Pigeon pose is a wonderful hip opener, as it releases any tension and stress in your hips. Depending on how you feel, or what level you're on, you have a few choices. If you're just starting out - Then you can stay upright on your hands, while sinking your hips forward and down. If you're on level two - Then you can rest your head on your forearms. To get a full release in your hips, breathe and release your belly. Stay in this position anywhere from 10 breathes to five minutes, then repeat on the other side.
Although this pose seems advanced for some, it's an excellent hip opener, and you can do what you can. Lizard pose works on the inner thigh, and quadriceps on the front leg, while opening the back of the hip and groin. In the back leg, the hip flexor receives an amazing stretch while the whole thigh is being engaged.
The forearms rest parallel on the mat with your palms down. If your hips are too tight, and it's too uncomfortable to come down on your forearms, then you can stay up on your hands, broaden your shoulders, and extend your heart forward. You can stay in this pose for at least 5 breathes to a few minutes, then repeat on the other side. This is a great pose to add to your sun salutations, after the third or fourth round, as your body becomes more warm and flexible.
Butterfly pose is great for tight hips, and any low back discomfort. You can keep your hands on your feet, pressing your knees down with your arms, or if you want more of a stretch, you can extend your arms out in front of you. Stay in this pose for at least 5 breathes, or as long as you're comfortable.
Happy Baby Pose
Happy Baby Pose is a wonderful deep hip opener that also requires arm strength. You use your biceps to guide your knees towards the floor. It's great for both beginners and advanced students. Babies are natural yogis, as they seem to know how to move and stretch in a way that feels good, and is great for their bodies.
Garland pose is a squatting pose that really opens up your hips. It's beneficial for your deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. You can practice this pose a couple times, and stay in it as long as you are comfortable.
Goddess pose is a restorative pose that is great to open up your hips and groin. You're letting gravity bring your knees down to the floor, so you can stay in the pose effortlessly. This would be a wonderful pose to end your yoga practice. You can stay in it for a few minutes, as it's very relaxing.
Reclined Hero Pose
Reclined hero pose stretches the quadriceps muscles in your top legs, increases mobility and blood flow to your hip flexors, thighs, and knees, and stimulates digestion. It also stretches the abdomen, shines and ankles, and restores balance and equilibrium to your back. Make sure that you can sit comfortably on the floor between your feet before trying this pose.
It may take some time for you to comfortably get into the full pose with your buttocks fully on the floor, but remember that practice can get you there. Stay in reclined hero pose for at least 5 breathes to few minutes, depending on your comfort level. Eventually this pose can become a resting pose, not a stretching pose, but this takes lots of practice. It can be used to deeply renew your entire body.