The muscles of the hips help provide support to the spine and abdominals. When you have strong, open hips, you can hope for better posture, improved circulation, and overall better alignment. Below are 5 yoga poses that help improve mobility across your hips.
Yoga Poses to Release Tight Hips
1. Low Lunge
Begin in table top or in downward facing dog. Step one foot forward and in between your hands. Release the back thigh down onto the mat. Keep your front knee stacked above your ankle. Perch on your fingertips, take your hands on yoga blocks (or books), or come upright and lift your arms up.
Low lunge targets the hip flexors, so you’ll most likely feel the sensation at the frontal hip of your back thigh. To come deeper into the pose, take your hands down onto the mat. Clip your back foot to your bum, and then catch hold of the heel with the same side hand. This will take you into a quad stretch. Stay here for a few breaths, before performing the pose on the opposite side. You’ll definitely feel your tight hips loosen up.
2. Half Split
From low lunge, take both hands down to frame the front foot. Then, straighten the front leg and flex the front foot so that the toes point to your face. Inhale lengthen the spine, then exhale melt the heart down to the front thigh.
If it’s very hard for you to fold forward, take yoga blocks underneath your hands for more support.
If you would like to explore a full split, come briefly back into low lunge. Then, tuck the toes of the back foot underneath you and come lower onto the back thigh. Straighten your front leg once again, and then slowly melt your hips down towards mat.
To come out of the pose, simply press down onto your hands, firm up the hips, and re-bend the front knee. Come back into table top or downward facing dog, then repeat on the opposite side. Half split releases the hamstrings—you can even rock back and forth from low lunge to half split.
3. Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
This pose releases tension in the inner thighs or adductors. And just like low lunge, it also helps strengthen the supporting muscles of your spine and abdominals.
Sit down on your mat, and bring your legs into a wide V shape. Walk your hands forward, lengthen your spine, and fold forward. You can also come down onto your forearms. Take a bolster or a block underneath your forehead, so that you can comfortably rest your head down. Stay for 8 to 10 breaths, before coming upright.
Pigeon is a deep, intense stretch for the outer hips. Come back to table top or downward facing dog. Bring one shin behind the wrists, relax it down, and rest on the outer hip. Straighten the back leg behind you, and relax it down towards the mat. You can stay high on your fingertips or extend the arms up. Another option is to fold forward and rest your forehead onto a block.
If you have particularly tight hips, setting the front outer hip down might be difficult. Try padding it with a blanket or block, for additional support. Stay in the pose for 8-10 breaths, before coming upright and switching sides.
5. Happy Baby
This relaxing, carefree pose is the cherry on top of all the other hip openers. Lie down on your mat and take your knees into your chest. Then, bring your knees into your armpits. Flex your heels and bring them into your hands, bringing the soles of the feet to face the sky.
Happy Baby helps open up the outer hips, inner thighs, groin, and even the hamstrings. It also helps relieve lower back pain, stimulates digestion, and calms the nervous system. Perfect to do before savasana!