Stiff hips are a widespread problem in our sedentary lifestyle. Prolonged sitting can cause hip muscles to weaken and tighten, resulting in limited mobility, discomfort, and even pain in the hips and lower back. However, incorporating hip-opening yoga poses into your regular practice can help alleviate hip tension and discomfort, as well as improve overall flexibility and range of motion. In this article, we’ve selected 10 beginner-friendly yoga poses that are safe and accessible to most people looking to release hip tension.
It’s important to note that if you have any pre-existing hip, knee, ankle, or lower back conditions, some hip-opening yoga poses may not be appropriate. It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor or physical therapist before starting a new yoga practice.
1. Modified Fire Log/Double Pigeon Pose
Double Pigeon Pose, also known as Fire Log Pose, is deep hip stretch where the shins are stacked on top of each other. This range of motion is often not accessible for beginners, so a great modification is to keep the shins crossed instead.
To begin, sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Flex your feet and bring one ankle under the opposite knee. Next, bend the other leg and place the ankle in front of the other knee, so that your shins are almost parallel and your legs create a triangle shape when viewed from above.
As you inhale, lengthen your spine, and as you exhale, slowly bend forward until you feel a stretch in the outer hips. Hold the pose for one minute or more, then switch sides. You may feel a different stretch when you change legs, as one side may be tighter or more flexible. This pose mostly targets the outer hips but it’s also common to feel the stretch on the inner thighs and groin if that are is tight.
2. Low Lunge/Crescent Lunge/ Lunge Pose Variations
The Low Lunge and its variations is a gentle and beginner-friendly yoga pose that is great for stretching and releasing tight hips, particularly hip flexors and quadriceps.
To perform the Low Lunge, start in a downward-facing dog position and bring one foot forward between your hands, lowering the back knee to the floor. The front knee is bent above the ankle, the back foot can be pointed or flexed. You can use a folded blanket or towel under your back knee for extra cushioning if needed. Once you are in the pose, focus on reaching your chest forward and up while gently sinking hips down towards the floor. There are lots of arm variations here, you can place you hands down to the mat or blocks, keep your hands on front knee, press palms together in front of the chest or raise you arms up above the head.
Lunge with a twist can also be a great option for stretching the hips. To target the quads, try bending the back leg and catching the foot with the opposite hand.
3. Lizard Pose
Lizard pose is a bit similar to Low Lunge and depending on your body can create the same or slightly different stretch sensations. To enter the pose, begin in a downward-facing dog position and step one foot forward, positioning it to the side of your mat. Place your palms on the inside of the foot, either on the ground or using yoga blocks for support. The back knee can either be lifted or placed on the floor.
For a deeper stretch, roll to the outer edge of the front foot, opening the knee to the side. Keep one hand on the ground and use the other hand to gentle press the knee away from you. Another option is to lower on of the forearms to the floor or onto the blocks. And just like in Low Lunge, you can hold the back foot and the heel down for an added quad stretch.
4. Garland Pose/ Yoga squat
Garland Pose, also known as Yoga Squat, is an effective yoga pose that targets tight hips, while also stretching the lower back and ankles. To perform the pose, stand with your feet hip-width apart or wider, with toes turned outwards. Lower into a squat, bringing your palms together in front of your chest. Use your elbows to push your knees open and lift your chest, striving to bring your chest towards your thumbs.
For those who need assistance with balance, sitting on yoga blocks can be helpful. If it’s difficult to place your heels on the floor, try resting them on a rolled blanket for added support.
5. Bound Angle Pose
Bound Angle Pose is a gentle seated stretch for the hips and inner thighs. Start by bringing the soles of your feet together and positioning them close to your groin. Sit upright, relaxing your legs so that your knees open wide. Stay in this position if you already feel enough stretch on groin and inner thigh. To maintain proper posture, consider sitting next to a wall. To go deeper, you can bend forward and your hands or elbows to gently press your knees down.
Another good option is to sit up on a block or cushion as you bend forward into bound angle pose. Elevating the hips helps to tilt pelvis forward and makes bending forward easier.
6. Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Reclined Bound Angle Pose is an excellent beginner-friendly yoga pose for tight hips. It’s a gentle and restful passive stretch that helps to relieve muscle tension and stiffness. To get into the pose, simply lie down on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet touching. You can place your hands on your belly or on the mat beside your body, depending on what feels comfortable. If you feel too much pulling sensation on your inner thighs, support your legs with yoga blocks or cushions.
Take a few minutes to relax in this pose and let your hip muscles release. It’s a great way to end your yoga practice, especially if you’re feeling tired or stressed.
7. Happy Baby /Half Happy Baby
To do Happy Baby Pose, start by lying on your back and bringing your knees towards your chest. Try to grasp your shins, ankles, or the outside of your feet, then press your feet down to bring your knees closer to the floor, making sure to keep your lower back stays on the ground. If this is too hard, try a half happy baby variation instead.
For the Half Happy Baby variation, bring one knee towards your chest while keeping the opposite leg relaxed on the floor. If the stretch on the straight leg feels too intense, you can bend it. If you have difficulty reaching your feet, you can use a yoga strap to assist you in pulling your foot towards your armpit, bringing your knee closer to your chest.
8. Reclined Pigeon/Figure Four Stretch
Pigeon Pose is a great yoga pose for tight hips, but the traditional form can put stress on the knees. A modified version, Reclined Pigeon, is ideal for beginners and those with knee issues. Start by lying on your back with bent knees, feet hip-width apart. Bend one leg, flex the foot, and place the ankle on top of the opposite knee. Hold onto the back of the thigh or use a yoga strap to bring the knee closer to your chest, feeling the stretch in the hip. An alternative is to use a strap around the foot and straighten the leg, pulling on the strap for a deeper stretch.
9. Seated Pigeon/Figure Four Stretch
Seated Pigeon is another gentle variation or Pigeon pose. Start by sitting with bent knees and feet parallel, slightly further from the sit bones. You can do this pose next to a wall or use your hands for support to keep your spine upright. Bend one leg, flex the foot, and place the ankle on top of the opposite knee. Slowly bring the foot on the floor closer to your sit bones, until you feel a stretch in the hip. The closer the shin is to the torso, the deeper the stretch.
10. Seated Spinal Twist/Half Lord Of The Fishes
The twisting motion in this pose helps to stretch the hips and release tension in the hips and lower back. Begin by sitting on the mat with legs extended in front of you. Bend one leg and place the foot flat on the floor outside of the opposite leg. With the arm opposite the bent leg, hug the thigh to the chest or hook your elbow to the knee. Lengthen your spine as you inhale. On the exhale, twist from the upper back, using your elbow to press the knee to the opposite side. Hold the twist for several breaths, feeling the stretch in the hip. Your bottom leg can stay straight or you can bend it and bring heel to the opposite hip.
In conclusion, hip tightness is a common issue that can affect our daily movements and cause discomfort and pain. The ten beginner friendly hip stretching yoga poses mentioned in this text are great ways to help relieve tension in the hips and improve overall flexibility. These poses are accessible and can be easily modified to suit your individual needs. Incorporating hip stretching yoga poses into your regular routine can not only help you alleviate pain and discomfort but also improve your overall posture and balance. So, give these poses a try and feel the difference for yourself!