Keep Your Hips Healthy With These 3 Essential Poses

All you need is a few minutes each day to feel more agile and at ease.

October 19, 2015
waist

PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC AUDRAS/PHOTO ALTO/GETTY

Yoga teachers will attest that hip openers are the most requested poses in their classes. That’s because the hips are such a powerhouse in the body—when they’re functioning well, we move through the world with physical ease and a sense of openness. But when our hips are tight, we feel creaky and, well, ancient. Tight hips can be the root of sciatica, back pain, and knee problems. So taking a few minutes each day to move your hips through their range of motion is well worth the effort.(Keep more than just  your hips healthy! Join us for our live online 21-day New Year, New You meditation challenge, starting January 1!) 

Whether you have a devoted exercise routine or you’re a full-time desk jockey, adding just a few hip opening yoga poses to your day can leave you feeling more agile and at ease. 

The three poses stretch the muscles all around the joint—it’s important to remember that even though your outer hips might be screaming for attention, the muscles along the front, back, and inside of the hips also need a good stretch in order to create balance in the body.

proposal pose
Proposal Lunge

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREA FERRETTI

How To: Come to your hands and knees and step your right foot forward to meet your hands. If you need to, fold your mat or place a blanket under your back knee for padding. Bring your hands to your front knee and lift your pelvis up and back. Note that, in this pose, you won’t go as deeply as a typical lunge.

Refine It: The idea here is to stretch your hip flexors, along the front of your hips. To access that area, you’ll have to tilt your pelvis back. Think of moving your tailbone down toward the floor and lifting the frontal hip points up. (If this is confusing, do the opposite first: Stick your tailbone and glutes out. This is a forward tilt of the pelvis. Reverse that action and you’re in a backward tilt.)

Feel It: Stay for 10 to 15 deep breaths, feeling a stretch along the front of your thighs and hips. Then come back to hands and knees and repeat on the other side.

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Pigeon Pose
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose)

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREA FERRETTI

How To: Come to hands and knees again. Bring your right knee forward until it touches your right wrist. Your right thigh will be parallel to the side of your mat. Place your thigh on the ground with your left heel underneath your left hip. Place your fingertips on the ground in front of you, gaze forward, and draw your shoulders down your back. Take a moment to assess: Do you feel any knee strain? If so, get a pillow or a blanket and place it under your right hip. 

Refine It: This pose stretches the outer hip on the front leg, and the front of the hip on the back leg. To get the full benefit of the stretch, tuck your back toes under and draw your left hip forward, right hip back so that your hips are square. If the stretch feels sufficient, untuck your toes and stay here. If you’d like to deepen it, place your forearms on the ground or walk your arms all the way forward until your torso is on the ground.

Feel It: Stay for ten to 15 breaths. To come out of the pose, tuck your back toes again. Lean forward into your hands, lift your hips and come into Downward Dog.

seated wide-legged forward bend
Upavistha Konasana (Seated Wide-Legged Forward Bend)

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREA FERRETTI

How To: Sit with your legs wide and your kneecaps facing the ceiling. Flex your feet. Take a few deep breaths here, observing the intensity of the stretch. If you’re unable to straighten your legs or sit up tall, place a pillow or blanket underneath your behind. 

Refine It: To work the legs here, reach out through the heels while you press the outer edge of the thighbones down toward the ground. Take a deep breath in and, if it feels appropriate for you body, deepen the stretch by coming onto your forearms.

Feel It: Stay for 10 to 15 deep breaths, keeping the legs working strongly.