This article focuses on the importance of maintaining flexibility in the hips.
Dangers of Tight Hips
- Poor Balance and Posture
Given that the hip flexor is the critical stabilizer of the pelvis, weakened hip flexors impair balance and cause poor posture.
- Back Pain
Overstretched glutes and hip extensors as well as tight hip flexors, cause the pelvis to get pulled out of place, in an unnatural manner. This eventually starts the pulls at the muscles in the lower back, which causes back pain. Back pain is one of the most common complaints for people with tight hips.
- Muscle Imbalances
Sitting for hours daily tightens the front of the hips and the hip flexors. While sitting, the back of the hips, glutes and hip extensors is are being overstretched. The problem is that they are also being significantly weakened due to lack of use of each of the muscle groups.
Stretching out the hips on a daily basis helps counteract the effects of long sitting. Besides, it increases mobility in the hips as well as your strength and stamina in your workouts.
Since yoga offers many hip-opening poses, it is one of the best ways to gain flexibility in the hips. At the same time, these hip openers are some of the best and most frequently used poses in many yoga classes.
1. Thread the Needle Pose
Lay on the back with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor. Cross the right ankle over the left knee, making a figure “4”. Pull the left knee towards the chest, while keeping the hips grounded and lowering the back pressing into the mat. At the same time, you should be threading the right hand between the legs.
Clasp the hands under the left knee in order to engage the knee deeper into the stretch. Keep the right knee open in order to stretch the hip well, while breathing deeply. Hold for half a minute on each side.
2. Happy Baby Pose
Lay on the back on the mat and pull the knees to the chest. Put the hands on the inner arches of the feet and then open the knees as wide as possible. Press the feet into hands while pulling down on the feet and keeping the back pressed into the mat. Breathe deeply and hold for half a minute.
3. Butterfly Pose
Sit on the mat with the knees bend and the hands placed by your side on the mat. Bring the soles of the feet together to allow the knees to open out to the side. Open the knees using the leg muscles and bring the as close to the floor as possible.
The stretch should be felt in the inner thighs. Pull the feet close in toward you in order to deepen the stretch. Instead of pulling the feet closer, you can fold forward and walk the hands out in front of you. Hold for half a minute.
4. Frog Pose
Get on all fours, keeping the hands placed under the shoulders and the knees on the mat. Widen the knees very slowly until you feel a stretch in the inner thighs. Make sure the ankles are in line with the knees, and the calves and feet are grounders all the time. Lower down to the forearms, if possible. Hold for 30 seconds.
5. Half Pigeon Pose
Start in a runner`s lunge with the right foot forward and both hands placed on the mat. Slide the front foot over towards the left hand with most of the weight and then lower the knee to the right.
Put the outside of the right calf on the mat, making sure it is parallel to the front of the mat. Lower the back knee very slowly and shin to the ground. Then, square the hips to the front of the mat, keeping the arms straight and the hands flat on the ground.
For a more intensive stretch, lower down to the forearms or lower down to lay over the front leg. Hold for half a minute and then repeat the pose on the other side. Stick with Thread the Needle in case you find this pose uncomfortable or difficult for you.
6. Double Pigeon Pose
Sit on the mat and cross the left leg in front. Grab the left ankle and pull it to a place of the right knee, while using your arms for assistance.
If your hips are too tight, lift the right knee up off the floor, keeping the hips more opened and the knee lower. To increase the stretch, walk the hands forward. Hold for half a minute and repeat the pose on the opposite side.
7. Low Lunge
Just like with half pigeon pose, begin in a runner`s lunge with the right foot forward and the hand on the mat on the side of the front leg. Lower the back knee and the skin to the ground and lift the chest and arms up, while resting the hands on the thigh.
Make sure the abdominal muscles are fully engaged and make sure the back doesn’t arch. To intensify the stretch, reach the arms over the head and lean forward. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
8. Crescent Lunge
Again, begin in the runner`s lunge, keeping the knee lifted. Bring the hands off the mat and then bring them to the front thigh. Square the hips to the mat while allowing the hips to sink lower.
Then, reach the arms up and over the head while engaging the abdominal muscles. To deepen the stretch, lengthen through the back leg and persistently sink and square off the hips. Hold for 30 seconds on both sides, respectively.