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Here’s How to Modify 7 Common Yoga Poses for Tight Hips

Leah Sugerman
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There are so many excellent yoga poses for tight hips to gently open and stretch the muscles and connective tissue supporting the pelvic girdle. However, when your hips are extremely tight, it can be challenging to even begin to approach these postures.

Practice These 9 Yoga Poses to Relieve Tight Hips

Luckily, there are plenty of modifications and variations that you can practice to support you in these poses so they feel a little bit more accessible, attainable, and ultimately, sustainable.

So roll out your yoga mat and grab your favorite props to modify these common yoga poses for tight hips!
 

 
 

Here’s How to Modify 7 Common Yoga Poses for Tight Hips:

For these modifications, you’ll likely want to have at least two yoga blocks (or thick books), a yoga strap (or towel), and a yoga bolster (or a firm pillow or couch cushion).
 

1. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) With Props

BaddhaKonasana
Bound Angle Pose is one of the most common yoga poses for tight hips because it stretches your hip adductor muscles (running along your inner thighs). But it’s actually quite an intense stretch for someone who’s already tight there!

Thankfully, all it takes is a few props to modify this pose to make it a whole lot more comfortable for people with tight hips.

Let’s try it:

  • Start seated on a prop (like a yoga bolster or pillow) so that your hips are elevated above your knees
  • Draw the soles of your feet to touch and open your knees out wide toward the sides of your mat
  • Slide your feet as close toward or far away from your pelvis as feels appropriate
  • Place a yoga block underneath each knee or thigh for added support
  • Allow the weight of your legs to surrender down toward your props
  • Elongate your spine and tip your pelvis forward just slightly so that you maintain the natural inward curvature of your lower back
  • Option to stay as you are or lead with your chest and fold forward over your legs
  • Hold for a few long, deep breaths

 

2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) With a Shortened Stance

warrior2
Warrior II is a super common pose in the yogic repertoire but it can actually be incredibly challenging for practitioners with tight hips. Luckily, there’s a simple fix to reduce some of the stretch in the hips to make this pose more accessible.

Let’s try it:

  • Start standing at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose
  • Take a step back with your right foot about a third of the way down your mat
  • Turn your right toes to face toward the long edge of your mat so that your hips and torso also turn to face toward the right
  • Bend your front knee as deeply as it feels comfortable for your hips
  • Open your arms out into a T-shape, reaching toward the short edges of your mat
  • Shorten your stance as little or as much as you’d like to reduce the stretching sensation in your hips
  • Elongate your spine and stack your shoulders over your hips
  • Hold for a few long, deep breaths before switching sides

 

3. High Crescent Lunge With a Torso Lean or Bent Back Knee

high lunge lean
Another super common posture, High Crescent Lunge is a wonderful yoga pose for tight hips. But for those with very tight hip flexors, this posture may be a bit too intense in its traditional alignment. Fortunately, there’s a very easy fix for this.

Let’s try it:

  • Start standing at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose
  • Fold your torso forward and down over your legs
  • Bend your knees deeply until you can rest your hands on the floor to stabilize your balance
  • When you feel steady, take a big step back with your right foot
  • Rise to the ball of your right foot and kick your heel toward the back of your mat
  • Energetically scissor your legs toward each other
  • Ground down into your front heel and lift your torso as you stretch your arms toward the sky
  • Bend your front knee deeply
  • Option to lean your torso forward toward your front leg to alleviate some of the stretch from the hip flexors of your back leg
  • You also have the option to bend your back knee as much as you’d like to alleviate some of the stretch from the hip flexors of your back leg
  • Hold for a few long, deep breaths before switching sides

 
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4. Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) Lying Down

supine cow facing
As one of the classic yoga poses for tight hips, Cow Face Pose is ideal for stretching the outer hips muscles and releasing tension around the outside of the pelvic girdle. However, in order to access this shape, you actually need to have pretty open hips to begin with.

But fear not! If your hips are a bit too tight to even approach Cow Face Pose, you can practice a modification of this shape on your back.

Let’s try it:

  • Start lying down on your back
  • Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor
  • Cross your right leg over your left as if you’re sitting cross-legged in a chair
  • Walk your left foot toward the right side of your mat
  • Option to stay here or lift your feet off the floor and draw your knees toward your chest
  • Option to loop a yoga strap over your feet or option to catch hold of one foot with each respective hand and gently draw your legs in closer toward your chest while simultaneously releasing your pelvis toward the floor
  • Hold for a few long, deep breaths before switching sides

 

5. Pigeon Pose Lying Down

8 reclined pigeon
Similar to Cow Face Pose, Pigeon Pose is the quintessential posture to release tight hips (specifically targeting the hip external rotators). But just like Cow Face Pose, it’s not really accessible to those with very tight hips. So luckily, you can flip this one as well.

Let’s try it:

  • Start lying down on your back
  • Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor
  • Cross your right ankle over your left knee in a figure-4 shape
  • Option to stay here or lift your left foot off the floor and draw both legs toward your chest
  • Option to loop a yoga strap behind your left thigh or interlace your fingers behind it
  • Gently hug your left leg toward your chest, and with equal and opposite energy, draw your right knee away from your body and release your pelvis toward the floor
  • Hold for a few long, deep breaths before switching sides

 

 
 

6. Garland Pose (Malasana) With Props

Malasana
Garland Pose (sometimes called Yogi Squat) is a deep squatting position that releases the muscles of the inner hip and groin. But it requires a lot of hip mobility to practice. A few simple props can help to make this shape more accessible.

Let’s try it:

  • Start standing at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose
  • Walk your feet out as wide as your mat and slightly turn your heels in and your toes out to create a bit of external rotation in your thighs
  • Bend your knees deeply and sink low into a squat
  • Slide a yoga block (or stack of blocks) underneath your seat for support
  • Release the weight of your hips into the support beneath you
  • Ground your sit bones toward the floor and stretch the crown of your head toward the sky
  • Hold for a few long, deep breaths

 

7. Locust Pose (Padmasana) Alternative

Locust Pose
Often considered to be the archetypal yoga posture, Lotus Pose requires incredibly mobile hip joints to safely approach. Unfortunately, Lotus Pose isn’t accessible for most practitioners (and likely never will be due to skeletal structure).

But, you can gain all the same benefits of Lotus Pose from a very simple alternative shape. And since Lotus Pose is typically used for meditation, you can really find any comfortable alternative position to relax into.

Let’s try it:

  • Come to any comfortable seated position that you like
  • Option to sit cross-legged, on your shins, resting on one hip, etc.
  • Option to elevate your hips by sitting up on top of props
  • Option to support your knees with props underneath them
  • Hold here for as long as you’d like

 
 

There Are Always Ample Modifications for Yoga Poses for Tight Hips

So many people say they can’t practice yoga because they aren’t flexible enough. To yogis, this always sounds ridiculous. ”You practice yoga to get flexible!,” they always say.

And while that is true, there is also truth to the fact that a lot of yoga postures require flexibility, mobility, and great range of motion to even attempt.

Thankfully, though, there are ample modifications and variations to practice in every posture, so there’s always a place for every practitioner to work – no matter their flexibility or skill level.

Try these modifications of these common yoga poses for tight hips and see if they help your hips to soften a little bit of tension so that your yoga practice feels a bit more accessible each and every time you step onto your mat.

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Leah Sugerman

Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless traditions of the practice and teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings both internationally and online.

leahsugerman.com

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