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Hips opening poses are a must in today’s society. We spend so much time sitting that the muscles shorten and tighten, triggering all sorts of reaction in the body, from sciatica problems, to sacro-iliac pain and lower back problems, naming a few.

The ‘hip joint’ is a ball-and-socket joint, which means that it’s designed to have a big range of motion (like the shoulder joint). If our joints are designed this way then it is for a reason: because we need it to keep going through life and age in a gracious way. It is left to us to keep it going by stretching but as well by strengthening the smaller muscles that stabilize the hips. Walking is not enough, neither is running or practising just one or two sports on a regular basis. What is needed is diversity in term of range of motion. Think about all the movements that your legs and hips should be able to do and compare it your life-style… there is most likely room for improvement!

Come to your yoga class to do just that, to keep your beautiful body going, not only to avoid aches and pains, but to feel a bit ‘lighter’, having spent time working on releasing tensions in your body while strengthening!

 

Here is a little hip opening sequence that you can practice at home. It should take you about 20 min max. You will need one or two folded blankets, a strap and a chair if you have very tight hips (Did you know that you can purchase straps, blocks and mats at the studio?)

1. Supta paddangusthasana (Reclining big toe pose)

Lie on your back with your left leg extended on the floor. Place the strap around the ball of your right foot and hold it with your right hand. Make sure that your leg is fully straight by lifting your knee cap to activate your quads. Place your left hand on your left tight and keep your left leg active. Move your outer right hip forward, away from you. Start pulling the right leg towards you. Hold for 3 breaths.

Inhale and lift your chest up. Bring your forehead to your shin bone and your shin bone to your forehead. Hold for two breaths then bring your back on the floor.

 

 

 

 

 

Bring your right leg to your right. Keep your left leg anchored on the floor. Externally rotate your right leg by bringing the toes down, heel up. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths then bring your leg back up.

Place the strap to the side, bend your right knee and bring your shin across your chest so your right ankle is close to your left shoulder. Wrap your arm around your leg so you can cradle it. Lift your chest up and pull your leg towards you, making sure that your right foot is active. Hold for 3 breaths. Release by bringing your back down on the floor.

Place the strap back on the sole of your foot and hold it with your left hand. Place your right arm in a T shape position. Move your outer right hip forward and slowly start bringing your right leg to the left. No need to go far, we don’t want to twist here but rather find a stretch for the IT band and outer right hip. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

Bring the leg back up and hold the strap with two hands. Inhale and lift your chest up to bring your forehead to your shin bone. Hold for two breaths, bring your back on the floor, release the strap from the leg and lower your right leg down.

Repeat the same sequence on the other side.

2. Baddha Konasana (Butterfly pose)

Sit at the edge of your folded blanket(s). Engage your pelvic floor slightly and cinch in through your waist. Place the sole of your feet together and use your hands to roll your glutes back. Place your hands, interlaced, onto your feet, or alternatively hold your legs. Inhale and lift up from the crown of your head, open the chest and bring your shoulders down and back. Exhale and fold forward, keeping as much lenght through the spine as possible. Keep bringing your sitting bones back to open through your lower back and sacro-iliac joint. Bring your knees to the floor and keep pulling your feet towards your groin. Hold for at least 5 breaths.

To release, inhale first and come half way up, then exhale and come all the way up.

3. Agnistambhasana (Double pigeon)

There are two options – three actually – for you to explore, depending on how tight your hips are.

1. Full pose

Sit on your blanket, roll your glutes back to increase the anterior tilt in your pelvis.

Bend the left leg and bring your shin bone parallel with the front edge of your mat. Bend the right leg and bring it on top of the left, shin bone parallel with the mat and your right ankle on top of your left knee. Keep both feet active.

Take a breath in and lift up from the crown of your head, breathe out and fold forward, keeping as much length through the spine as you can. Stretch your sitting bones to the back of the room. Hold for 5 breaths then come up.

Switch side.

2. One leg extended (for tight hips)

Sit on your folded blanket, roll your glutes back to increase the anterior tilt in your pelvis.

Keep your left leg extended and active (Your foot is dorsiflexed, toes pointing towards you).

Bring your right ankle on top of your left knee and keep your right foot active. Take a breath in and lift up from the crown of your head, breathe out and fold forward, keeping as much length through the spine as you can. Stretch your sitting bones to the back of the room. Hold for 5 breaths then come up.

Switch side.

3. Chair variation (for very tight hips)

Sit on the edge of a chair placed against a wall.

Keep your left leg extended and active (Your foot is dorsiflexed, toes pointing towards you).

Bring your right ankle on top of your left knee and keep your right foot active. Take a breath in and lift up from the crown of your head, breathe out and fold forward, keeping as much length through the spine as you can. Stretch your sitting bones to the back of the room. Hold for 5 breaths then come up

Switch side.

4. Ananda Balasana (Happy baby pose)

I like to finish with happy baby pose as it is a great way to bring balance back in the hips by working equally on both sides. It is relaxing and perfect before Savasana.

Lie down on your back, band both knees and catch the outside of your feet if your hands. Push your knees towards the floor, keeping them really wide. Lengthen your lower back on the floor and rock from side to side for as long as you’d like!

Tadaaaa!!!

 

Enjoy your happy hips!

Thank you for reading;-)

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