While yoga is a holistic and all-encompassing activity that engages all aspects of your body, there are specific poses (or asanas) that focus on certain areas. When you string a set of these poses together, such as in Vinyasa Flow yoga routines, you can really zone in and accomplish improving a particular region with better results. Some of these yoga routines focus on opening up the shoulders, improving flexibility of the spine, or strengthening the arms or core. This particular article will discuss yoga exercises that can be used to open up the hips.
Warrior II (Virabradhasana II)
Warrior II is a great pose for opening up the hips. Essentially, there are two main actions that are going on. While your entire body is facing the side of the mat, your hips square to the side, your bent knee must be pushed outwards, opening up the hips even more. This is coupled to the constant tension that you must place between opposing sides. Your arms must be straight and taut as if being pulled in two directions, your weight must be centered and distributed evenly between both the straight leg and the leg that is bent at a 90 degree angle.
Happy Baby Pose (Ananada Balasana)
This is a pose that is easily accessible, even to beginners. To get into this, lie on your back with your legs bent in the air. Grab onto the inside arches of your feet and try to pull them down as far as you can, trying to curl in so that your tailbone is slightly off the mat. Then simply rock side to side in this position, with your head and neck lifted slightly. This pose opens up the hips in a fun and playful way. It also has the additional benefit of working on your core muscles.
Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)
This pose is more difficult for beginners, especially men, who generally have tighter hips than women. The easiest way to get into this pose is from Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Lift your right leg up into the air behind you and swing it forward so that it lands with your knee at your right wrist and your ankle at your left wrist. Ideally, your shin should be parallel to the front of your mat, but this can be difficult to achieve sometimes. Lower yourself down onto the floor, with your left leg straight and back behind you, top of the foot on the mat.
At this point, your sit bones should be on the floor. If you can't manage this, just put a block beneath you so that you are sitting on something. Now slowly walk your hands forward so that your arms are straight in front of you on the floor. If you can, touch your forehead to the floor, and stay here for several long breaths. You should feel an intense stretch in your hips and thighs. To get out of the pose, simply walk your hands up, swing your leg back to Downward Facing Dog position, and work on the left leg.
These are but a couple of poses recommended for opening the hips. Such anatomically focused poses are good to integrate into themed yoga routines. Hip-openers not only give you flexibility and a greater range of motion over time, but also carry over into building strength and a sense of alignment in those areas that we often take for granted. By creating awareness of our bodies we can better engage them in other yoga exercises, and even into our daily lives, in that hip-openers counteract the constant compressing of the hip flexors when we are sitting at our desks or driving.