The first time I cried during yoga was after an intense hip opening sequence. I distinctly remember lying in savasana while a wave of emotions rushed over my body. As I allowed the tears to slowly trickle down my cheeks, I became aware, perhaps for the first time, of the intricate connection between the physical and emotional sensations a yoga flow can bring. Although this is something you can experience during any yoga practice, there’s something about hip openers that tends to draw out the most raw and buried emotions from any practitioner.
Emotions aside, tight hips can be caused by a multitude of physical reasons as well. The most common and one many of us can relate to is a relatively sedentary lifestyle. When we sit, our hip flexors are forced to stay contracted, which leads to a feeling of tightness. Plus, tight hips can also lead to some major low-back and/or knee pain, which is a major inconvenience for anyone.
Whether you’re new to yoga or are a seasoned professional, these three yoga poses are great for giving our hips the extra attention they deserve.
This is one of my favorite stretches that really targets your hip flexors. You can choose to keep your hands on your mat framing your front foot; hold them in prayer at your chest or extend your arms long toward the ceiling.
Hip Tip: To keep the stretch in your hips instead of dumping it into your lower back, draw your navel to your spine and tuck your tailbone. Inhale to lengthen upward, and exhale to slowly lower your hips deeper toward the mat.
It should come as no surprise that this is one of the best hip opening stretches of all time. In fact, when I was in yoga teacher training, my mentor said that anyone who has tight hips should do this pose every. single. day.
Hip Tip: If you’re like me and can’t bring your knees all the way to the mat, keep your focus on sitting upright instead of folding forward in this pose. You can always sit on a blanket or yoga block to ensure your spine remains nice and long. (P.S. It’s also a great pose to cuddle with your furbaby, as demonstrated by my pup.)
Seated Spinal Twist
I threw this one in here because even though the focus is on improving the mobility of the spine, this is actually a very gentle and sneaky way to stretch the outer hip muscles as well!
Hip Tip: Proper alignment is key––front foot should be flexed, twist should be through the whole upper body, and your entire bottom should be planted firmly on the mat.