By: Fabletics Master Danielle Robinson
One of the most common ways we create hip tightness and inflexibility is through an excess of sitting. Many of us are seated for many hours in a single day; at the computer, in the car, eating meals, in front of the TV, etc… This abundance of sitting shortens and tightens a group of muscles called the hip flexors. Since these muscles connect the thighbones to the pelvis and spine, discomfort may originate in the hips or in the low back.
Another culprit of tight hips? Exercise! Running, walking, cycling, and hiking strengthen the hip muscles but do not stretch them. Sports that emphasize one side of the body, like golf or baseball, can also cause hip issues.
Hip openers may feel intense while we are practicing them. But, as we become more flexible, we are left with less pain and greater mobility. Keep in mind when practicing the postures that dull aching sensations in the muscles are normal while sharp or shooting pain is a signal to back off.
Your tight hips will soon feel more open and relaxed. Just step onto your yoga mat or even the floor next to your computer and do these yoga poses to open up your hips.
Eye of the Needle
This is a wonderful pose for both beginners and individuals who find the hips excessively tight. In my yoga classes, when we are practicing more advanced hip openers, I often suggest this one as an alternative.
Start by lying on your back with both feet on the floor and both knees bent. Bring the right ankle to the left knee. Pick the left foot off the floor and interlace the hands behind the left hamstring. If this is too deep, modify the pose by bringing the left foot to the wall and not interlacing the hands. In either variation, the back of the head should relax comfortably on the floor. If the chin is lifting up towards the ceiling, place a rolled towel or yoga blanket under the neck. Change sides.
This pose stretches the psoas muscle, a deep muscle, which connects the legs, spine and pelvis and is responsible for hip flexion. This pose also effectively stretches the groin and thighs.
From a kneeling position bring the right foot forward while keeping the left knee on the floor. Begin to slide the left knee backwards (or walk the right foot forwards) until you achieve a lunge position. This pose can be done with the hands resting on the front leg, or with both arms up alongside the ears. Let the right femur bone draw forward as the tailbone relaxes down toward the floor and the sternum and crown of the head lift towards the sky. Change sides.
Perhaps the most well-known yoga hip opener, this pose stretches the outer hip and groin of the forward leg and the hip flexors of the rear leg.
Come onto your hands and knees on the floor. Bring the right knee between your hands. Sit down on your outer right hip. If your right buttocks cannot comfortably rest on the floor, place a blanket or pillow underneath it, as both hips should be on the same plane. The left leg will be outstretched behind you with toes turning down to the floor. To decrease sensation in the hip, bring the right heel closer into the groin. To increase sensation, bring the right heel away from the groin, closer to 90 degrees. Walk your torso out over the right leg keeping the hips level. Using a bolster or blankets under the chest can create a more soothing, supported feel in the pose. Change sides.
Danielle Robinson –owner QT Fitness, Fitness Specialist- Spin, Yoga, and Barre instructor