Sit Much? Practice These 10 Hip-Opening Yoga Poses to Relieve Tight Hips

Teresa Mason
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One of the well-known benefits of yoga is added flexibility. In particular, hip opener yoga poses are all about creating more flexibility, mobility, and space in the hips.
 
We have probably all experienced the intensity in Pigeon Pose or Baddha Konasana, but there are many different hip openers that are just as wonderfully releasing for the hips.
 
Hip openers can bring up a lot of – ahem – sensations. So, while exploring these postures it is important to listen to your body.
 
 

Hip Openers: The Poses of Sensation

As far as physical sensations go, there is a difference between discomfort and pain. Where you choose to stop or ease up and where you choose to challenge yourself to stay is up to you and your body.
 
Only you can feel the full extent of the pose and only you can prevent injuries in your body or grow your progress. Please be kind to yourself and compassionate with your body and remember that your right and left sides can look and feel very different!
 
As far as non-physical sensations, it is completely normal if you notice some raw emotion bubbling up while in a hip-opening posture. Yogis believe that the hips are where our emotions are stored.
 
Notice how I didn’t specify what kind of emotions? That’s because it can vary from person to person. Trauma is remembered in our tissues so if anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, elation, or anything else comes up, breathe into the sensation and let it pass as the tissues are released.
 
One last thing to note: many hip openers are Yin postures. Yin Yoga poses work deep into the connective tissues instead of just the muscles. So, they will require you to stay in the pose for a longer period of time. This allows your muscles (and mind) to relax and draws the pose into a deeper portion of your being.
 
Want to explore more Yin Yoga? Try this 35-Minute Yin Yoga For Full-Body Relaxation Free Class
 
 

Here Are 10 Feel-Good Hip Opener Yoga Poses

 

1. Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)

Low-lunge
 
Let’s try it:

  • Start in a Low Lunge with your right foot forward
  • Move your right hand to the inside of your right foot
  • Walk your right foot toward the outer edge of your mat
  • Lower your back knee to the floor and untuck your back toes
  • Work to draw your chest forward while keeping your neck neutral
  • Hold for one to four minutes and then switch sides

 

2. Pigeon Pose (Modified Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana)

Pidgeon
 
Let’s try it:

  • Start in three-legged Downward Facing Dog with your right leg lifted
  • Shift your weight forward into Plank and release your right knee to the floor next to your right wrist
  • Slide your left ankle toward your left wrist as far as is comfortable
  • Lift your heart forward and place your hands on your mat by your side
  • Stay as you are or fold forward and rest your head on your hands or a block
  • Hold for one to four minutes and then switch sides

 

3. Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

crescent-lunge
 
Let’s try it:

  • Start in a Low Lunge with your right foot forward
  • Bring both your hands on top of your right knee
  • Allow gravity to gently draw you deeper into the stretch in your hips
  • Lengthen your spine
  • Experiment with adding a slight backbend
  • Hold for five breaths to two minutes and then switch sides

 

4. Extended Hand-to-Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana)

Big toe pose
 
Let’s try it:

  • Start in Tadasana
  • Lift your right knee in toward your chest
  • Place your left hand on your hip
  • Find a “yogi toe lock” by wrapping your right index, middle finger, and thumb around your right big toe
  • Engage your standing leg to lift out of your left hip joint
  • Soften your shoulders away from your ears
  • Stay as you are or extend your right leg straight in front of you
  • Elongate your spine
  • Draw your right foot toward the right side of your mat
  • Maintain your hips squared forward to the top of your mat
  • Hold here for five breaths and then switch sides

 

 
 

5. Side Lunge (Skandasana)

Scandasana
 
Let’s try it:

  • From Tadasana, take a very large step back with your right foot
  • Turn to face the right side of your mat
  • Turn your toes out slightly, facing the corners of your mat
  • Bring your hands to heart center in Anjali Mudra
  • Bend your right knee and sit your hips back slightly
  • Ground your right heel
  • Shine your chest forward
  • Flex your left toes
  • Hold for five breaths and then switch sides

 

6. Yogi Squat (Malasana)

Malasana
 
Let’s try it:

  • Start in Tadasana with your feet as wide as your mat
  • Turn your toes out about 45 degrees
  • Bring your hands to heart center in Anjali Mudra
  • Squat down toward your mat
  • Attempt to keep your heels grounded (it may help to walk your feet out wider or sit on a block)
  • Press your elbows into your thighs and press your thighs into your elbows
  • Breathe here for five to ten breaths

 

7. Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana)

seated-wide-leg-forward-fold
 
Let’s try it:

  • Start seated facing the long edge of your mat
  • Spread your legs apart as wide as is comfortable into a “V” shape
  • Flex both feet
  • Elongate your spine
  • Fold forward by hinging at the hips to maintain the length in your back
  • Hold for one to four minutes

 

8. Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

gomuhkasana
 
Let’s try it:

  • Start seated with your legs stretched forward
  • Cross your right leg over your left as if sitting cross-legged
  • Draw your right heel toward your outer left hip
  • Stack your knees on top of each other
  • Either stay as you are or bend your left knee and draw your heel toward your outer right hip
  • You may wish to use a blanket or rolled up mat underneath your seat to keep both hips even and grounded
  • Breathe here for one to two minutes

 

9. Firelog Pose (Agnistambhasana)

Agnistambhasana
 
Let’s try it:

  • Start seated
  • Draw your right shin parallel to the top of your mat
  • Stack your left shin directly over your right to create a “square” shape
  • Relax your left knee toward your right ankle
  • You may wish to use a blanket to support your hips so that they are level
  • Either stay here or fold forward over your legs
  • Hold for one to two minutes and then switch sides

 

10. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

bound angle pose
 
Let’s try it:

  • Start seated
  • Bring the soles of your feet together and open your knees out wide
  • You may wish to support your knees with blocks or blankets
  • Either stay as you are or fold forward over your legs
  • Relax into this posture for three to five minutes

 
 

The Many Benefits of Hip Openers

The benefits of hip openers are about as varied as the benefits of yoga itself. From increased flexibility to reduced risk of injury to emotional healing and a closer relationship to your feminine energies, bringing more space and openness to your hips might be just what you need!
 
Practice a few of these hip opener yoga poses every day for five days and notice the difference in your body and mind!
 
Do you have a favorite hip-opening yoga pose? Let us know in the comments below!

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Practice These 9 Yoga Poses to Relieve Tight Hips
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Teresa Mason

Teresa is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga instructor and a Karma Kids certified kids yoga instructor. Her top passions are yoga, books, cats, and nutrition. She hopes to show that yoga is for everyone and to inspire others to find balance and self-love on their yoga and mindfulness journey.

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