The Hip Opener in a Yoga Sequence

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When you spend a lot of time working at your desk, watching TV or doing other stationary activities, the various muscles of your hips can really suffer. If you're feeling tightness in your hips, a few key yoga poses may loosen the hip flexor muscles and provide you some relief. A typical yoga practice often starts by warming up the spine and the rest of the body, including Cat-Cow poses on all fours, Sun Salutations that include Upward and Downward-facing Dog, and forward bends with your feet about hip-width apart. Following that, move into a sequence that can help open your hips.

Pigeon pose is a key hip opener.
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Step 1

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend forward at the waist. Grasp your left shin with your right hand, placing your left hand on the floor for stability. Press the left hand into the floor. Hold the position for a few breaths, and then slowly come back to standing. Then repeat the motion on the other side, grasping your right shin with your left hand.

Step 2

Come back to a standing position and widen the stance of your feet to slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, pointing your toes outward. Bend both knees and squat, working your butt downward as far as you can comfortably go. Your heels should stay on the floor. Place your hands inside your knees to work your knees farther apart. Tip your head downward and hold this Standing Frog pose for a few breaths.

Step 3

Release your hands and come back to standing, turning your feet inward to bring them close together. Then bend over, place your hands on the floor and step back into Downward-facing Dog. In this pose, your body bends at the waist, your butt should be pointed toward the ceiling, arms straight out in front of you, fingers and palms flat on the floor, and heels planted on the floor. Hold this pose for a few breaths.

Step 4

Bend one knee in preparation for Pigeon pose -- a key pose that opens the hip flexor muscles, including the psoas and rectus femoris. Bring the knee forward, working to get the knee near its corresponding wrist, and the foot near the opposite wrist. Allow the leg to rest on the floor and keep the foot flexed. Slide the other leg backward and rest it on the floor, its toe pointed, while at the same time keeping your hands on the floor for stability. In the beginning of the pose, keep your hands on the floor and chest facing outward. As you settle into the pose and feel your hips loosening, take your hands off the floor and lower yourself down onto your forearms. Hold for a few breaths and then take your forearms off the floor, extending the arms in front of you on the floor and working to touch your forehead to the floor. Hold each position for a few seconds.

Step 5

Place your hands on the floor and move the bent leg backward and pop back into Downward-facing Dog. Then repeat the Pigeon pose with the leg you didn't use during the first round. As with every pose, hold each one for several breaths.

Step 6

Complete a final Downward-facing Dog after you've done Pigeon pose with both hips. Then walk or hop forward to standing. Keep your hands on the floor and kick your legs outward to come into a sitting position with your legs in front of you. Lift one buttock off the floor and pull it outward slightly with your hand, then do the same on the other side. Bend your knees and pull your feet toward your groin as close to your groin as is comfortable. Sit up straight and allow your knees to fall downward slowly. Hold this pose for at least a few breaths, if not more.

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