In modern life, we are bound to office desk and we sit for long periods of time at work. The result is that the hip flexors and rotators become tight, and our gluteal muscles become weak. This in time, might affect our ability in maintaining a proper posture, how we stabilise our spine, or simply walk without pain.
Hip Opening poses are those which introduces some rotation in the hips. The benefits of these poses are stretching tight hips, improving the hips’ range of motion and circulation, and alleviating back pain.
The hip joints have 4 kinds of movements during an asana class:
- Extension: this is what happens when we straighten one leg behind us
- Flexion: this is what happens when we pull one leg to the front
- Internally rotated: this is what happens when we rotate the hip towards our axis
- Externally rotated: this is what happens when we rotate the hip away from our axis
People with tight hip should access the hip opening poses carefully. When the hips are tight and the legs are pushed too far to achieve the pose, sometimes there is a rotation in the knee joints – and this might result in injuries.
There are some points to consider to avoid this:
- Dorsiflex the feet.
- If you feel any discomfort or sharp pain, immediately back out of the pose and try the modification.
- Do not go too far. Listen to your body.
The following is a set of poses for hip opening:
Vrksasana / Tree pose
Stand at the top of your mat with feet hip-width apart. Making sure both legs are engaged in Tadasana. Slowly shift your weight to one side, lift the other leg up, open the hip and press the sole of the lifted leg into the inner thigh, calve or ankle of the standing leg. Avoid the knee joint. Press the contact part of the standing leg against the sole as well, keep the leg engaged. If ready, bring both hands in prayer and slowly stretch the arms above the head.
Baddha Konasana / Bound angle pose
Sit up tall in Dandasana. Bring both soles of the feet together in front of you, leaving a palm distance between the groin and the heels. Open the soles like a book. Inhale as you lengthen your spine, exhale fold forward keeping the back straight. Come out of the pose slowly, pressing both hands under the thigh and with resistance bring the knees together.
Upavistha Konasana / Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold
Sit up tall in Dandasana. Keep the legs straight, stretch the legs to the sides away from each other. Keep the knees facing up and dorsiflex the feet. Inhale to lengthen your spine and exhale fold forward maintaining a straight back. Come out slowly by drawing the knees together with resistance.
Some other poses for hip opening for example are:
- Garudasana / Eagle Pose
- Gomukhasana / Cow Face Pose
- Eka Pada Kapotanasana / Half Pigeon
- Runner Stretch
- Bekasana / Frog Pose
Enjoy your hip opening home practice!