Tension in the hips after a long, exhausting day can cause severe aggravation and stress on the mind. The hips are the gateway to our emotions, and when they are clogged we become extra moody and anxious.
Give yourself time to de-stress the body slowly and surely. Light a candle, play some Bon Iver, and roll out your mat in a place that makes you feel grounded, calm, and at peace.
1. Supta Baddha Konasana
Reclining Bound Angle is perfect for all times of day, especially at night or when the mind is racing. A bolster or pillow is a nice addition for added stress-relief. Slide the pillow underneath the spine so the full upper back is supported and the chest cracks open.
Lying on your back, bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall open. If your hips feel extra tight, you may find it more comfortable to widen the diamond, letting your heels stretch further away from your sacrum.
Let the arms be comfortable. If you are feeling distant from yourself, place one hand on your heart and one on your belly. If you are feeling overwhelmed, cactus the arms by the sides, palms facing up.
A squat a day keeps the stress away! Malasana is a profoundly healing pose that reveals tightness in the hips. The ancient yogis used to eat all of their meals in this position. As we have grown accustomed to chairs, squatting has become more difficult. Practice with patience.
Facing forward, step your feet wide to the outer edges of the mat. If you have tight hips, don’t be afraid to step a little bit wider. Turn your toes out. Bend your knees and sit low. Let yourself wiggle around: maybe the feet need to be wider, or the feet opened.
Bring your hands to your heart center in a prayer. Press the thumbs into your heart and use the elbows to press the legs open. Find a place that is comfortable for you to stay for ten, long breaths. Keep your mind controlled. Deep inhales and exhales.
3. Warrior II
A proud, fierce posture that activates strength and control. When the mind is stressed, keep this pose wide and grounded.
From Downward Dog, step your right foot between your hands and spin your back heel to the ground. Your front heel should bisect the arch of your back foot. Keep the stance wide and press into your back pinkie toe.
Bend low and keep the right knee stacking over the ankle until the front thigh is parallel with the earth. Unfurl your arms long and open. Shoulder blades roll down the back, eyes forward, breath long, and hips open. Stay for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Triangle Pose is an unexpected addition that I always include for those who have tight outer hips. (And often don’t know it.)
The same set-up as Warrior II: Step the right foot forward with the front heel bisecting the back arch with a large stance. This time, straighten the front leg. Reach your arms wide, jut the hips towards the back of the room, and slowly tilt your torso parallel to the floor as your right hand reaches towards your shin, ankle, or foot.
Press energy through the feet and the top of your head. Slightly tuck the tailbone underneath you as your right thigh plugs into your right hip. Pull up on your right kneecap to activate your outer hips. Repeat on the other side.
5. Cow Face Pose
Another deep stretch for the outer hips that both twists you up and wrings you out.
From a seated position, stack your right knee on top of your left. Flex your feet and push your heels away from you, trying to bring the heels in line with the knees. Keep your sit bones on the floor as you reach your spine long. Stay here and tilt from the hips as you lean forward. Relax the outer hips and gently release to the sensation. Stay for ten breaths and repeat on the other side.
6. Pigeon Pose
Here it is: the one you’ve been waiting for.
From a seated position, bring your right shin parallel to the top of the mat and swing your left leg behind you. Flex your right foot and try to keep the heel in line with the knee. Back foot is in line with the left hip.
Press into the floor with your legs and lift your spine long before folding forwards over your shin. If the hips are tight, make a pillow with the hands to rest the forehead. Lengthen the spine on the inhale. Drop deeper on the exhale.
Let this one be long and deep, holding for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
What are YOUR go-to yoga poses to release tension in the hips? Share in the comments below!