There are so many reasons to do hip-opening poses: Supple hips can ease back pain, give you a more agile gait, and even improve circulation in your legs. But there’s a more subtle benefit to hip openers, too: We hold stress and negative emotions—such as fear, guilt, and sadness—in our pelvis. For this reason alone it’s particularly important to do poses that move prana (life force) through that area. Hip opening poses are often included in Hatha flow yoga classes as well as in the best online yoga classes.
Hip opening poses have numerous benefits. They are wonderful for relieving unwanted stress, calming the nervous system, combating fatigue, as well as bringing positive emotional and energetic effects. They prepare a mother’s body for childbirth. They are important to practice if you sit at a desk all day. Long hours of sitting cause the hip flexors to shorten limiting our ability to extend and possibly affecting the pelvic position and the lower back.
Rather than taking an entire Hatha yoga class in person or online yoga classes, we have selected our 3 favourite, yummy, restorative postures to target opening the hips. You can hold them from 3-7 minutes. Try to relax and let go of the accumulated tensions while breathing consciously into the tight areas of your body. If you have taken an in person or an online yoga 200 hour certification, then these poses may be familiar to you. If they are new to you, you may consider doing them with a yoga instructor, although doing them on your own will also provide great benefits.
1. Wide Knees Child Pose
To come into this pose, kneel onto the floor, and sit back onto your ankles. Keep your knees and big toes touching one another as you sit back. Lean forward at the waist and place your forehead on the floor. If your hips pop up, don't worry about it. As you stay in the pose, keep inviting your hips to meet your heels. You can keep your arms stretched forward or just relax them next to your body.
2. Easy Wide Angle Pose (Upavista Konasana)
Sit on a block or two to elevate your hips and free your lower back. Extend your legs to the sides and flex the feet. The legs remain in line, without rolling inward. If this doesn’t come yet, bend your knees and support them with rolled up blankets underneath. Exhale and fold forward from the hips (rather than the waist), resting your hands or forearms on the ground (or on a chair if you need the extra height), and your forehead on as much support as you need. Stay for up to three minutes.
This pose nurtures release in the hips, inner thighs, hamstrings and lower back. It eases tension in the front body.
3. Sleeping Frog
Lie on your belly, on a folded blanket if you wish. Bring the soles of the feet together and support them with a cushion. Make a pillow with your hands and rest your forehead on it. Breath deeply. You can practice deep abdominal breathing here. To exit, bring the knees together with the feet in the air, then roll to one side and up to a seated position.
With the help of gravity, this pose gives a deep release in the groin and inner thighs.