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Hip-Opening Yoga Poses

by Mina SinaiHaving tight hips can lead to inflexibility, back pain and poor circulation, so there’s no doubt that adopting a hip-opening yoga sequence will do wonders for your body…

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These poses help move the hip joint through a full range of motion, increasing flexibility and decreasing that tight, nagging feeling you may experience throughout the day. Completing these poses on a regular basis will not only alleviate tight hips, but also benefit the rest of your yoga practice!

Half Lord Of The Flies (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Don’t let the name fool you, this yoga pose definitely does not require half the effort! Half Lord of the Fishes works to stretch out your hips, neck and shoulders while also relieving tension and stress on the spine. Practicing this pose regularly will help increase lubrication in your hip joints and therefore, help hip flexibility.

Nail This Pose:

  1. While sitting on the ground, draw your left knee into your chest and place your left foot on the floor outside of your right knee.
  2. Bring your right foot in towards your tailbone.
  3. Place your left hand behind you in line with your lower back and wrap your right arm around the outer side of your left leg.
  4. Put pressure into your left foot and hand as you lengthen your torso and twist as far as possible without straining.
  5. Stay for five breaths before switching sides and repeating.

Half Pigeon (ardha kapotasana)

Half Pigeon (ardha kapotasana)

Many hip opening yoga poses work to either increase the rotation of the femur bone in the hip socket or strengthen the actual hip flexor. However, the Half Pigeon pose works on BOTH of these areas, making it one of the most effective poses for tight hips. This pose can feel extremely achy for those yogis with especially tight hips.

Don’t feel discouraged in your practice! Adjust the pose as needed to fit your comfort level and work your way up to a true Half Pigeon.

Nail This Pose:

  1. The easiest way to ease into this pose is to start in a low lunge with your right foot forward and left knee to the ground, foot stretched long.
  2. Slowly and carefully begin walking your right foot over to the left side, easing the right knee and outer shin onto the ground as you do it.
  3. Once you’ve gone as far to the left as your body will allow, lengthen your toso by sitting up tall and pushing both hips squarely forward.
  4. Bring your hands to a prayer position in front of your chest.
  5. Take 5 deep breaths before switching sides.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana 1)

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana 1)

This intense pose will help yogis open the hips and chest, while building heat and strength in the lower body. After completing this pose, the entire body will feel alive and energized. Keeping hips in a square position while you complete the Warrior I position is essential for the ultimate in hip-opening poses.

Nail This Pose:

  1. From a standing position, bring your feet apart by a distance of 3.5-4 feet.
  2. Raise arms to be parallel to each other and perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Reach actively with both hands towards the ceiling to keep the entire body engaged.
  4. Turn your right foot so the toes are facing the front of the room. The back foot should be at a 45-60 degree angle with both heels aligned in a straight line.
  5. Square the hips towards the front of the mat.
  6. Keeping your left heel anchored to the ground, exhale and bend your right knee over your right ankle.
  7. Continue to reach strongly through your hands, lifting your ribcage. Keep your head gazing forward, or try to do a slight backbend and look up towards the ceiling.
  8. Stay for 30 seconds to one minute, and then repeat on the opposite side.

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana 2)

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana 2)

This pose is a perfect hip opener for yogis of all levels and works well in a sequence with Warrior I (Virabhadrasana 1). Not only does Warrior II increase flexibility in the hips, this pose also relieves backaches, especially during the later terms of pregnancy, and stretches the chest and shoulders while strengthening the legs.

Nail This Pose:

  1. From a standing position, step your feet back so they are about 3.5-4 feet apart.
  2. Raise your arms so they are parallel to the floor. Keep hands active by reaching each hand as far as possible in both directions.
    Palms should be facing down and shoulder blades wide. Make sure you are not scrunching your shoulders up close to your ears.
  3. Align your feet so your right foot has toes pointing forward in the same direction as your right hand reaches. Your left foot should be positioned with toes at a 45 degree angle. Make sure your heels are aligned, although they are separated by 3.5-4 feet.
  4. Bend your right knee to line up with your right ankle. Keep your left leg straight.
  5. Make sure your weight is evenly placed in both feet, so one leg does not have to do all of the heavy lifting.
  6. Activate your core muscles for balance and prevent yourself from leaning too far in either direction.
  7. Turn your head to the right and soften your gaze across your fingertips.
  8. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute, and then repeat on the other side.

Source: FYTSO

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