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12 Yoga Poses To Open Your Hips

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12 Hip-Opening Yoga Poses

30-second stretches to banish tightness and stiffness

12 Hip-Opening Yoga Poses

If you are lucky, you will not notice your hips are tight until you’re trying to do half of the pigeon pose in yoga class. But if you’re not so lucky, your tight hips are doing to know ever so much as walk to the bathroom or sit on the sofa expressed as back pain and muscle stiffness.

It is a common problem, says Prevention advisor Rob Danoff, director of residency programs in family medicine and emergency at Aria Health in Philadelphia. “For people who sit a long time at work, the hip flexors and rotators tighten, and gluteal muscles weaken,” he says. “This combination adversely affects our ability to walk, maintain proper posture, and stability of our spine.”

Yoga teacher based in the city of New York Amanda McDonald agrees that narrow hips are a widespread problem, “Hip-openers are actually the major movements in my yoga classes.” If it never moves in certain directions, he says, you will reduce your range of motion over time.

The following yoga postures are directed each of the four main directions of motion of the hip, with modifications to any level that is starting to.

Target: Inner Thighs

02-Happy-Baby

Pose: Happy Baby Pose
Level: Gentle
Lie on your mat and pull your knees to your chest. Place hands on outsides of feet, opening your knees wider than your torso. Press your feet into hands while pulling down on feet, creating resistance. Breathe deeply; hold for at least 30 seconds.

Target: Inner Thighs

03-Reclined-Bound-Angle

Pose: Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Level: Moderate
Lie on your mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Bring soles of feet together and let knees fall out to sides. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Hold for at least 30 seconds.

Target: Inner Thighs

04-Frog-Pose

Pose: Frog Pose
Level: Intense
If most inner-thigh openers feel too easy (and your ankles and knees are injury-free), try Frog Pose. Get down on all fours, with palms on the floor and your knees on blankets or a mat (roll your mat lengthwise, like a tortilla, and place it under your knees for more comfort). Slowly widen your knees until you feel a comfortable stretch in your inner thighs, keeping the inside of each calf and foot in contact with the floor.  Make sure to keep your ankles in line with your knees. Lower down to your forearms. Stay here for at least 30 seconds.

Target: Outer Thighs

05-Thread-The-Needle

Pose: Thread The Needle
Level: Gentle
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place left ankle right below right knee, creating a “four” shape with left leg. Thread left arm through the opening you created with left leg and clasp hands behind right knee. Lift right foot off floor and pull right knee toward chest, flexing left foot. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.

Target: Outer Thighs

06-Half-Pigeon

Pose: Half Pigeon
Level: Moderate
Start in a runner’s lunge with right leg forward, right knee over right ankle and back leg straight. Walk right foot over toward left hand, then drop right shin and thigh to the floor, making sure to keep right knee in line with right hip. Allow left leg to rest on the floor with top of left foot facing down. Take a moment to square your hips to the front of the room. Hold here, or hinge at hips and lower torso toward floor, allowing head to rest on forearms. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side. You want to feel a moderate stretch in the outside of the right thigh, but if this pose hurts your knees or feels too uncomfortable, stick with Thread the Needle.

Target: Outer Thighs

08-Low-Lunge

Pose: Double Pigeon
Level: Intense
Sit on floor with knees bent and shins stacked with right leg on top. Use your hand to position right ankle on left knee. Ideally, the right knee will rest on the left thigh, but if your hips are tight, your right knee may point up toward the ceiling (overtime, as your hips become more open, your knee will lower). Keeping your hips squared to the front of the room, hinge at the hips and slowly walk hands slightly forward. If this is enough of a stretch, hold here, or fold your torso over your thighs to go deeper. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.

Target: Hip Flexors

08-Low-Lunge

Pose: Low Lunge
Level: Gentle
Start in a runner’s lunge, right leg forward with knee over ankle and left knee on ground with top of your foot flat on the mat. Slowly lift torso and rest hands lightly on right thigh. Lean hips forward slightly, keeping right knee behind toes, and feel the stretch in the left hip flexor. Hold here, or for a deeper stretch, raise arms overhead, biceps by ears. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.

Target: Hip Flexors

09-Crescent-Lunge

 

Pose: Crescent Lunge
Level: Moderate
Start in a low lunge, then straighten back leg, coming onto the ball of your back foot. Hold here for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.

Target: Hip Flexors

10-Camel-Pose

Pose: Camel Pose
Level: Intense
Start kneeling on your mat with knees hip-width apart and hips directly over knees. Press your shins and the tops of your feet into the mat. Bring your hands to your low back, fingers pointing down, and rest palms above glutes. Inhale and lift your chest, and then slowly start to lean your torso back. From here, bring your right hand to rest on your right heel and then your left hand to your left heel. (If you can’t reach your heels, turn your toes under; it will be easier to reach your heels in this modification.) Press your thighs forward so they are perpendicular to the floor. Keep your head in a relatively neutral position or, if it doesn’t strain your neck, drop it back. Hold for 30 seconds. To come out of the pose, bring your hands to your hips and slowly, leading with your chest, lift your torso as you press the thighs down toward the floor.

Target: Internal Rotation

11-Hero-Pose-w-Block

Pose: Hero Pose With Block
Level: Gentle
Kneel on your mat with thighs perpendicular to the floor and tops of of your feet facing down. Place a yoga block between your feet. Bring your inner knees together. Slide your feet apart so they are slightly wider than your hips, and press the tops of your feet evenly into the mat. Slowly sit down on the yoga block. Use your hands to turn the top of your thighs inward. Allow the backs of your hands to rest on your thighs. Hold for at least 30 seconds.

Target: Internal Rotation

12-Reclining-Hero-Pose-600x450

Pose: Reclining Hero Pose
Level: Intense
Kneel on your mat with your thighs perpendicular to the floor and tops of your feet facing down. Bring your inner knees together. Slide your feet apart so they are slightly wider than your hips and press the tops of your feet evenly into the mat. Slowly sit down between your feet. Use your hands to turn the top of your thighs inward. Then, lean back onto your forearms and slowly lower torso to floor. Hold for at least 30 seconds.

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