Performing Hip Openers Safely
Sometimes our hips open before theyre ready, so never force yours to open if its painful. Despite their power, hips are delicate. Listen to your body and go only to your edge when you practice hip openers.
If you struggle with hip openers, props are your friend, so dont hesitate to use them.
A block or blanket tucked under your hip in pigeon or under both hips in butterfly can make opening the hips more comfortable, so youll stay in the pose longer. You can also try sitting up on a blanket or block for forward bends as well as using blocks to reach the ground in poses like runners lunge, lizard, and triangle.
How do you feel about hip openers? Do you love them? Hate them? Have a favorite or one you would like to avoid at all costs? Let us know in the comments!
General Anatomy Of The Hips
Many times when you hear the word hip opener in yoga people think of the front or sides of the hip because they tend to be the tightest. But there are actually four groups of muscles that make up the hip complex: the iliopsoas , the external rotators of the hip, the glutes and the adductors. The iliopsoas group is comprised of the psoas muscle and the iliacus. The external hip rotator group is composed of gemellus superior and gemellus inferior, obturator internus and obturator externus, piriformis, and quadratus femoris. The gluteal group is made up of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and tensor fascia latae . Finally we have the adductor group which is a combination of adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, pectineus and gracilis.
When your hips are balanced you will feel more mobile and will likely have less pain, which leads to increased happiness and wellbeing. Discomfort or pain associated with tight hips not only includes outer hip and front of the hip pain, but it also affects your low back and can lead to other kinetic chain issues.
The two most common tight hip groups are the iliopsoas and external hip rotators. When hip flexors and external hip rotators are tight, the next closest place of mobility will be sacrificed, usually the lumbar spine. This can lead to an increased arch in the low back, which means a shortening of the back extensors and the potential risk for disc issues or lumbar spine compression.
Quads And Hip Flexors
In some poses which also target the lower back, like Saddle Pose, it can be good to try one-legged variations. So keeping your right leg in your version of Saddle Pose bring your left foot onto the floor with the left knee pointing straight up. This tilts the pelvis slightly and isolates the hip more.You are aiming to feel the stretch in the belly of the muscles rather than at their attachment points .
Recommended Reading: Does Hot Yoga Burn A Lot Of Calories
Importance Of Hip Opening Exercises
Its all in the hips. The more we learn about the hips, the truer this old adage becomes. The hips play far too major a part not only in the physical body, but the emotional as well, to be ignored.
If you experience lower back pain, have trouble kicking, jumping, or sprinting, experience pain or muscle spasms in the legs or groin area, or have hunched shoulders and otherwise poor posture, its likely tight hips are to blame. And tight hips can cause a whole host of problems that only get worse if left untreated.
Supta Eka Pada Utkatasana Reclined Figure 4 Pose
This simple pose is a gentle way to naturally open the hips. It is so easy and simple that it can easily become a daily stretch.
Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet resting on the floor.
Begin with your left foot on the ground as you raise your right foot, placing the outside of your right ankle on your left thigh. The right ankle should rest just above the knee.
Wrap your hands around your left thigh and gently pull it in towards you as is comfortable.
Hold for thirty seconds and release, bringing your right foot back down to the mat.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Recommended Reading: Calories Burned Yoga
Baddha Konasana Butterfly Pose
Butterfly pose is a grounding pose that like the others, deepens with continual practice. It also provides a stretch to the inner thighs and groin.
Begin seated on the floor or mat with legs straight ahead of you. If this is challenging, you might wish to prop yourself up on a folded blanket.
Bend your knees to bring the soles of your feet together. Bring your heels as close to the pelvis as is possible without pain in the knees or low back. Wrap your hands around your toes and ensure that the back is straight.
Keep the pelvis in a neutral position and let the knees fall towards the floor without pushing.
You may fall forward slightly so long as the spine remains straight. Allow the shoulders to relax.
Hold this pose for one to two minutes and then gently release by drawing the knees towards one another and then extending them.
A Look Inside The Hip
The hip joint itself is a ball and socket type joint with the head of the femur sitting in the acetabulum or socket of the pelvis. A variety of muscles attach into the femur starting from the pelvis itself, the lumbar spine, the sacrum, or other parts of the femur. Hip openers could affect any of the muscles surrounding the hip depending on the position of the joint at the time of the pose.
In general when we stretch or open a muscle we are lengthening its position, moving the two attachment points away from each other. This is easy to assess with linear muscles like the psoas which attaches from the front of the lumbar spine, crosses through the pelvis and attaches to the head of the femur. If we flex the hip forward we are shortening the psoas, bringing the two attachments of the muscle closer together. If we extend the hip backwards then poses like Warrior / Virabhadrasana or Half Moon / Ardha Chandrasana become hip openers too.
You May Like: Yoga And Catholic Church
Reclined Cow Face Pose
Lie on back and cross right knee over left, winging feet out to the sides slightly. Take hold of right foot with left hand and left foot with right hand. Keeping knees stacked, direct feet with hands, moving in the direction of getting shins into one long line. Bend elbows and flex feet. Breathe here for 5 to 10 breaths, then repeat on other side.
Practice This In A Class
Again, with these poses watch for your knees. While the hip joint is capable of a large range of motion and rotation, the hinge joint of the knee is not. Dont sacrifice your knees for the sake of a pose. Read Esther Ekharts article on;knee alignment;for some extra tips.
Don’t Miss: How Many Calories Does An Hour Of Yoga Burn
Lets Have Looked At The Yoga Poses For Hips I Include In My Morning Routine
Because sometimes my emotions can drive me crazy and thats also helping me with my final meditation to set up my day.
Downward Dog Split
Press your hands firmly into the floor, draw the navel firmly into the spine, and reach the bottom heel into the ground. This will begin to stretch out the backs of the calves and the hamstrings while beginning to warm up the hips.
Half Lord Of The Fish Pose
Start sitting on your yoga mat with the feet in front of you. Take the left leg underneath and the right foot over the left knee. If you want, you can sit on a blanket or a cushion. Elevating the hips helps you to curve in the lumbar spine.;
Bring the torso upright and take the left hand on the outer side of the right knee. Use the right hand on the floor as leverage. Lean into the left hip and lift the right hip up. Try to broaden the right inner sitting bone over to the right. Once youve created as much space as you can possibly create, lower the hip down again.
Engage the core muscles and maintain this stability and strength while lengthening through each vertebra of the spine. Enjoy the twist for a few breaths. On an inhale, come back to center and twist to the other side.;
Ardha Matsyendrasana is not only a great twist but also a hip opener in yoga.
Don’t Miss: Calories Burned 1 Hour Yoga
Practical Hip Opening Yoga Poses For Beginners
Sitting all day long in the office or on the couch is probably some peoples definition of being relaxed, but do you know that such sedentary lifestyle can contribute to a myriad of health conditions in the long run?
Not only that, but the lack of physical activity can tighten the muscles on your hips, leaving you with pains and aches and affecting your mobility.
And its no coincidence that you opened this post because just like me, youre also aiming to open and stretch your hip muscles. We may not have the same reason for it, but nonetheless, these yoga poses are sure to benefit you.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana Or One Legged King Pigeon Hip
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana opens up the hip joint by stretching the hip and thigh muscles altogether. It strengthens the lower part of the body and also helps in getting rid of Sciatica with regular practice.
Steps to do Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or One Legged King Pigeon
Recommended Reading: What Is The Difference Between Yoga And Pilates
A Little Word On Hips And Emotions
While the focus of this article has been on the more physical aspects of hip openers its hard not to give a brief mention of the emotional release people sometimes experience with these poses.
The hips are said to be where we store emotion often the kind we keep hidden deep down like anger, anxiety, sadness and frustration. Working on the deep tissues in hip opening asanas can release both physical and emotional tension.;
On a physiological level the muscles of the hips have a relationship with the fight or flight response ; we are born with the reflex action of activating the hip flexors to bring us into the fetal position when under threat. One of the hip flexors, the psoas, is connected to the diaphragm so tightness here can lead to restrictions in the breath see;Sandras article on the Psoas.
On a psychological level how we approach hip openers can be a mirror for how we approach other challenges in our lives; hip openers require a softening and surrendering into the pose, staying present and staying with the breath.;This can be tough but ultimately worth it!
Yoga Posture Practice Must Evolve: No More Hip Openers Please
I should make myself quite clear, however. I am not out to demonize yoga or fear-monger the practice of yoga or how it may wreck a persons body .
My purpose is two-fold: To clarify what and how yoga can be a safe, effective form of physical therapy and rehabilitation for the hip and pelvis, and to underscore the areas where yoga posture practice should be evolved to prevent injury. Of course, I cannot do that in a single blog post.
However, I have many resources, including an ongoing blog, combined with teaching coursework in hip labral rehab and injury prevention, which continue to work to meet these goals. Yoga can and should be a safe practice for anyone to use.
My first request would be that we;please strike the phrase Hip Opener from our yoga vocabulary. It is not helpful to that;many people to think they only need to stretch out a tight hip, when in fact, they have bony and structural idiosyncrasies that prevent them from ever moving into certain yoga postures. Sure, soft tissue structures can be inhibiting hip range of motion but rarely is it helpful to put the bony parts of the hip in vulnerable end ranges.
Additionally, using the tired phrase hip opener suggests the pursuit of an end range of motionmoving further, stretching deeper, and/or using yoga postures for the sake of increasing hip range of motion and flexibility. This is a dangerous concept to present to the general public and it misrepresents the essence of yoga.
Recommended Reading: Calories Burned In A Hot Yoga Class
Hip Opening Yoga Sequences
Below Hip Opening Yoga yoga sequences act as guides for yoga teachers to create their own yoga class plans
Please click on the sequence title to view the complete hip opening yoga sequence with detailed overview and cues.
is a software used by yoga teachers-in-training to plan their ,by yoga teachers to teach inspiring classes, and by yoga therapists for their private clients.
Where To Find Sample Hip
Of course, you can practice all these hip openers one after another or spice up every yoga session with a few of them. But what about having a nice yoga sequence for hip opening? Well, we on TINT Yoga got you covered. We have a variety of hip-opener workshops and classes from the worlds greatest yoga minds for you.;
Try these hip-opening yoga sequences on TINT.
Experience a yin-and-yang approach to hip openers with these classes.
If youre looking for yoga hip openers for beginners, Matt Giordano has a basic hip-opening yoga sequence for your focusing on the essentials. You can also create Deep Roots and Strong Foundations with Finlay Wilson or start off by working on Hamstring & Hip Flexibility with Desirée Rumbaugh and Andrew Rivin.
Wanna know more about hip alignment and functionality? Check out these classes.
If youre looking for hip openers for beginners, these classes are for you.
You May Like: What’s The Difference Between Yoga Pants And Leggings
Baddha Konasana Or Butterfly Hip
As the feet get closer to the groin region while the thighs are stretched on either side of the body, Baddha Konasana is a very beneficial pose for Hip-Opening. It Stretches groin, lower back, sacrum and hips.
Steps to do Baddha Konasana Or Butterfly Hip-Opening Yoga Pose
Let’s Forget About Hip
Welcome to Part 1 of my 2-part hip-opening article! In Part 1, we’ll examine the anatomy of tight hips and what it truly means;to open them. In Part 2, we’ll discuss some specific hip-opening alignment tips that most yogis are missing in their practice. Enjoy, and as always, just let me know if you have any questions/thoughts/feedback at all! :);
Don’t Miss: How Many Calories Burned During Hot Yoga
Benefits Of Practicing Hip
- Yoga helps in increasing your hip flexibility, which will create a greater range of motion in all movements and activities.
- Regular practice of Hip opening Yoga poses improves lower back pain.
- Hip opening yoga poses improve the stability of the body and they also improve your posture.
- Hip opening yoga poses work on increasing the strength and flexibility of the hips which can help prevent injuries in later part of life.
- Practicing hip opening poses can improve strength and power in your daily work outs.
- These Asanas improve the blood circulation thereby improving movement and ultimately releasing toxins out of the body.