The purpose of our hips is to bear the weight of our spine and upper body and connect the core to the legs. Because of this, hips are also the ones that suffer the most from a sedentary lifestyle. Here’s where yoga for flexible hips can be beneficial.
Practicing yoga for flexible hips can reduce pain in your back and help you correct your posture. It also helps your body release negativity, improves your creativity, and increases your strength.
In this guide, we discuss the benefits of yoga for your hips and walk you through helpful poses. We also discuss potential risks and when you shouldn’t do hip opening exercises.
What Are the Benefits of Yoga?
There are multiple benefits to doing yoga regularly. It is an excellent option for those who want to balance their lives and increase their flexibility. Yoga can also help the body release muscular tension, and it is hugely beneficial for people who work long hours sitting.
Here are some of the benefits of practicing yoga regularly:
- Improves strength, balance, and flexibility: It achieves this by training the muscles and breathing to increase the blood flow.
- Helps relieve the pain from the back: Yoga is even better than basic stretching to relieve back pain. The American College of Physicians strongly recommends yoga for chronic lower back pain.
- Can help with arthritis problems: Gentle yoga is known for easing some of the discomfort caused by arthritis and swollen joints.
- Benefits the heart: Yoga can help you deal with heart issues like high pressure and excess weight. By doing so, yoga helps reduce the possibility of significant heart problems.
- Better sleep: Many experts recommend a consistent yoga bedtime routine to help you prepare for sleep. Yoga can help you get in the right mood for bedtime.
- Helps you control your moods: Yoga can increase mental and physical energy. Mental energy helps prevent negativity and brings more enthusiasm to your daily life.
- Helps with stress management: A proven benefit of yoga is its impact on your mental health. Yoga helps reduce stress and other mental health issues like anxiety.
- Chronic pain relief: Many studies show that yoga can help with arthritis, osteopenia, chronic pain, and other health issues.
Flexible Hips: A Brief Overview
Hips are an essential part of our body. They are the foundation of the spine, and they also play a significant role in our emotional well-being.
If you have poor posture or have a problem with your shoulders or back pain, then odds are your hips need some work. Tight hips are a terrible problem that affects many people in the world.
Tight hips affect mostly those that spent long hours sitting or standing in the same place. If tight hips are left untreated, they can create more health problems.
Having flexible hips can help you deal with tight hips and other issues related to them. The best way to treat tight hips is by practicing hip openers. A hip opener will stretch your hips, and if done regularly, it can solve the problem of sore hips.
Strengthens Psoas Muscles
The hips have a set of muscles called the psoas. These muscles connect with the spine and the legs. The psoas muscles are the deepest in your body core, and they are vital in determining good or bad posture.
Understanding the importance of these muscles will help you understand why it is vital to frequently exercise your hips. They are the foundation of your core, as the hips are the foundation of your spine.
Hip openers help you strengthen the psoas muscles, and that way, they bring strength to your core.
Relieves Back Pain
Up to 80% of the world’s population will experience some form of back pain in their lives. A common cause of back pain is tightness in the hips, especially amongst those that work long hours sitting.
Hip openers help you relieve the pain caused by tight hips, as well as increasing the flexibility of your thighs. Supple thighs can help you deal with most back pain sources, and it will significantly reduce your back problems.
Increases Physical Power
Most movements require the hips, from walking to jumping to even sitting still. Healthy hip muscles increase the strength of your actions as well as your resistance.
Releases Stuck Emotions and Improves Creativity
Most yoga experts suggest that the hips are a storage shed for negativity and control feelings. The hips connect to the sacral chakra, which is known as the body’s creative center.
Unlocking your hips will allow you to get rid of the negative thoughts and emotions holding you back. It will also let you be more creative as the hips are the center of creativity in the body.
Posture is essential for back health. A bad posture will bring pain and will unbalance your life. Tight hips are a cause of bad posture, as the hips are the foundation of the spine.
Hip openers and flexible hips help you gain control of your posture, and by doing so, it allows you to reduce back pains.
What Are the Best Yoga Poses for Flexible Hips?
Hip openers are a great way to reduce the pain in the lower back and the tights. However, they can be harmful to your knees if not done right. If you want to learn how to practice them correctly, you can follow the next instructions.
Low Lunge or Anjaneyasana
A low lunge is an efficient way to start opening the front of your hips. It is beneficial for those that work long hours sitting in front of a computer or sidewheel, as the pose reverses the position our hips take when we sit.
These are the steps to practice a correct low lunge or Anjaneyasana:
- Begin in a standard lunge pose.
- Then, slowly bring your knee down to the mat.
- Push your hips forwards as much as you can before it feels uncomfortable or painful.
- Breathe and hang in there.
- Repeat on the other side.
If you need a more visual guide, then we recommend this video:
Half King Pigeon or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
It is one of the most advanced yoga poses, and it is also extremely beneficial for the hips. The half king pigeon is an intense experience, and it can be harmful to the knees if not done right.
These are the steps to practice a correct half king pigeon or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana:
- Start with a Downward Facing Dog.
- Next, step one leg through to a lunge.
- Draw the front foot to the opposite side of the mat.
- Then, place the outside of the foot on the mat.
- Simultaneously, lower the rest of the leg down with your knee bent (Caution: do it slowly).
- Bring your heel in closer to the opposite hip joint.
- Make sure to keep the tension on the front foot to avoid any knee injuries.
- Remember to breathe all the way through.
- Repeat the process on the opposite side.
Tip: The half king pigeon pose is an advanced yoga pose, so we recommend not to try it if you are starting your yoga journey. If you feel ready, remember to always stretch and warm-up before.
The pigeon pose has many variations, many of which are even more advanced poses. If you want a more visual guide, then you can watch this video:
Frog Pose or Bhekasana
The frog pose or Bhekasana is a great option to open the inner groin and hips. It is not difficult to accomplish. However, we recommend stretching first before trying it.
These are the steps you need to follow to do a proper frog pose or Bhekasana:
- Start on hands and knees.
- Next, draw your knees away from each other (slowly).
- Keep your shins in line with your knees while lowering your hip down towards the floor.
- Keep your hips aligned with your knees.
- Continue moving your knees farther away from each other.
- Rest on your forearms, or if you can, go all the way down.
Tip: For better results, go extra slow with this pose. Don’t forget to keep breathing as you go down.
For a more visual guide, we recommend this video:
Garland Pose or Malasana
The garland pose or Malasana is the perfect pose for opening the hips. It is also a relatively easy yoga pose to achieve, so follow the steps and enjoy:
- Start with your feet away from each other, hip-distance or more.
- Lower your body down as if sitting.
- Hold on in there.
Note: Practice it enough times so that both feet are pointing straight out in front of you.
If you want to see how to do the garland pose, you can watch this video:
Bound Angle or Baddha Konasana
The bound angle pose or Baddha Konasana is a comfortable posture, but it requires a lot of flexibility and warm-up. Once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be able to incorporate this posture into your daily activities, like while watching TV or reading a book.
Here are the steps to achieve a correct bound angle pose:
- Sit tall on your mat.
- Place your feet flat on the floor. Make sure they are about 12 inches (30 cm) from your buttocks.
- Bring your feet together while you let your knees fall to the sides.
- Connect the soles of your feet.
- Remember to breathe.
- Pull your heels towards your groin.
- Hang in there as much as you like.
If you want a more visual guide of how to achieve a perfect Baddha Konasana, then we recommend this video:
Downward Dog and Downward Dog Split Variation
Downward-facing dog is a part of many different yoga routines, and it is the beginner pose for many. It is an excellent start to gain flexibility in the hips, and its many variations are of great help when dealing with tightness.
Here are the steps to achieve a correct downward-facing dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana:
- Start in a table top position, where weight is distributed on each hand and knee on the yoga mat.
- Breathe out and raise both knees from the floor.
- Keep your knees bent at a slight angle and your heels pushing away from the floor.
- Raise the tops of your thighs back and flex your heels towards the ground.
- Lengthen your legs to straighten your knees, taking care not to overextend them.
- Make sure to maintain your shoulder blades firm against your back.
- Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.
For a more visual guide, you can check this video:
The downward dog split variation is a bit more complicated, but you can follow these steps to achieve it:
- Start with a downward-facing dog pose.
- Make sure the hands are planted firmly on the ground.
- Keep the heel of the leg you are using on the ground.
- Bend the knee of the other leg. This will open the hip flexor.
Lizard Lounge Twist
The lizard pose is part of the foundations of yoga. It releases energy in the core and stretches the thighs. However, this particular variation is an excellent hip opener, and it is a pose that requires an advanced level of flexibility.
Here are the steps for a correct lizard lounge twist:
- Start with a standard lizard pose.
- Then, bring your knee to the floor and bend that knee.
- Extend the opposite arm back and use it to hold the ankle.
- Start twisting the spine so that the chest opens towards the sky.
- Hang in there and breathe.
- Repeat on the other side.
If you want a more visual guide, you can watch this video:
Shin to Shin
Shin to shin as an excellent essential hip opener. Practicing this pose will give you the flexibility and strength to take into more advanced poses.
To achieve a correct shin to shin, you can follow these steps:
- Sit at your full height with good posture.
- Move your right knee directly above your left ankle and rest it there.
- Do the same with the opposite knee and opposite ankle.
- Rotate both hips outward.
- If you need more support, try a yoga block or a pillow underneath your knee.
- Once you feel comfortable and balanced, begin folding forward slowly.
- Hang in there, and then return slowly to the downward-facing dog position.
- Repeat with the other knee on top.
Practicing these poses will help you open your hips, and by doing so, you will also help your body recover from back injuries and other health issues.
When Should You Not Do Hip Openers?
Hip openers are an excellent solution for tight hips. However, they can also be dangerous for those that suffer from previous injuries. As hip openers work by stretching the hips, and therefore, everything linked to them, they can also worsen previous injuries.
If you suffer from any previous injuries in your core or legs, we recommend not doing hip openers without consulting your physician first.
What to Take Into Consideration for Safe Hip Openers
Hips and Knees Have a Direct Connection
The body is a complex network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. A disruption in this network can cause severe damage, so be extremely careful when doing complicated yoga poses for the hip.
One way to avoid significant problems is to bend your knee while practicing yoga for flexible hips. A bent knee releases some of the tension and can help you prevent injuries. Consider your knees’ rotation before trying a hip opener, and measure that rotation limit before going into more advanced techniques.
Know Your Body and Limits
Knowing your body’s limits is the best way to avoid injuries. By taking the time to know which poses your body feels comfortable with and which ones it doesn’t, you’ll be taking the path for a healthier yoga practice.
Do not go into advanced yoga poses before having started with the necessary foundations of yoga. Go slowly; your body will thank you for it.
Pay Attention to Your Rotation
Understanding your legs’ rotation’s primal movements can be highly beneficial for your yoga practice.
Every yoga pose requires either external or internal leg rotation. By knowing which posture requires which movement, you can reduce the risks of significant injuries. If you are unsure of what the pose requires, ask for instructions from a certified yoga teacher.
Using the correct rotation won’t only prevent injuries but will make your training have better results. By doing so, you can build strength and become more flexible.
The hips are a vital part of our body, and they suffer a lot if you work sitting for long hours. Doing yoga for flexible hips will help you reduce the back pain created by tight hips. Yoga for flexible hips will also correct your posture and will bring balance to your body and life.
Hip openers are challenging but highly beneficial. However, they can also be dangerous if not done right. If you suffer from pre-existing injuries, consult with your physician before trying any hip opener.
- Yoga Journal: 11 deep hip openers
- American Chiropractic Association: Back pain facts and statistics
- Do You Yoga: How to avoid hurting yourself during hip openers
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: 9 benefits of yoga
- Orion Healing Center: Importance of hip opening exercises
- DoYou: 5 yoga poses to open the hips
- YouTube: How to transition to a low lunge
- YouTube: How to do a king pigeon pose
- YouTube: Frog Pose
- YouTube: Garland Pose
- YouTube: Bound angle pose
- YouTube: Downward dog
- YouTube: Lizard pose
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