Blog Mental Health Yoga Chair Yoga Chair Yoga Hip Openers: Simple Stretches For Reduced Pain & Increased Flexibility

Chair Yoga Hip Openers: Simple Stretches For Reduced Pain & Increased Flexibility

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that has been practiced for several centuries. It began as a spiritual practice, but has evolved and is now used for promoting physical and mental well-being. One of the benefits of yoga is that almost everyone can do it as it is one of the most gentle exercises there is.


However, some people cannot perform certain yoga poses due to age, disability, or illness. This is where chair yoga comes in. Chair yoga is a variation of traditional yoga that makes it more accessible to the aforementioned demographics.

One of the greatest benefits of yoga is increased flexibility. Tight hips can reduce your quality of life as they are painful and this pain can also extend to other parts of the body.

Chair yoga hip openers are a great option for anyone wanting to increase hip flexibility and mobility. Read on to find out about simple chair yoga hip openers for beginners that you can do at home to increase flexibility.

What Are Chair Yoga Hip Openers?

They are basically yoga hip exercises performed in a chair. Yoga is often done while sitting down on a mat on the ground or while standing up. In this case, however, chair yoga hip openers simply require the use of a chair during the stretches.

Instead of sitting on the ground, you sit on a chair, or use it to support you when performing poses that require you to stand up. These hip opener poses help stretch any tight muscles around the hip joint and pelvis. They will also, in some cases, stretch the muscles in the buttocks, hamstrings, inner thighs, groin, and abdomen/core.

What Do Hip Openers Do In Yoga?

Hip openers in chair yoga – or any other variation of yoga – help to increase flexibility in this region. 

Tight hips is a condition that anyone can experience, from office workers who spend most of their days seated, to athletes, and even you average gym rat – everyone is susceptible.

When your hips are tight, you experience pain and discomfort in the upper groin region. In addition, the pain can sometimes extend to the lower back and hamstrings. If left unchecked, this pain can cause issues in the lower back, knees, and sacroiliac joints – the link between the pelvic and lower spine.

See also
Hip Opening Yoga Poses: The Perfect Way To Relieve Stress From Your Mind And Body

chair yoga hip openers

This pain and discomfort can make ordinary activities such as bending, standing, walking, or leaning almost impossible. Hip openers in yoga help stretch the affected muscles, allowing the pain to become more manageable and ultimately fade away.

However, increased flexibility is not the only benefit of chair yoga exercises for hips. By doing these poses, you can also improve circulation in this area and the range of motion in the hips, legs, and back. Working the hip muscles with yoga also improves posture and balance (1, 2).

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Can Yoga Fix Tight Hips?

Yes, it can.

Traditional or chair yoga for hips are essentially just stretching. Scientific research on stretching and tight hips has found that this practice can actually help.

One study on the effects of active and passive stretching on hip flexors found stretching to be beneficial for flexibility and increased mobility in this area. Researchers concluded that passive and active stretching are equally effective for increasing range of motion, due to the increased flexibility of tight hip flexor muscles (3).

Another study that was published in 2021 demonstrated that back pain caused by tight hip flexors can be reduced and athletic performance can be improved by stretching the hips.

The study reviewed 8 other studies with a total of 165 subjects (male: 111 & female 54 participants). It was ultimately found that stretching the hips reduced muscle soreness, while increasing flexibility and improving balance and jump performance (4).

What Is The King Of Hip Openers In Yoga?

There are many hip opener exercises in yoga that can help increase flexibility and reduce tightness and pain. However, the pigeon pose is considered to be the king of these exercises.

This pose is believed to help increase the external, or outward, rotation of the femur bone in the hip socket and lengthen the psoas muscle. In addition to increasing range of motion and flexibility in the hips, this move also helps prepare the body for backward and forward bends.

Like many other yoga asanas, the pigeon pose is generally done on a mat on the ground. Here’s how to do the chair version:

See also
How To Do Sofa Yoga As A Beginner: Everything You Need To Know

Seated Chair Pigeon Pose

  1. Find a sturdy chair that sits comfortably on the ground. One without wheels is preferable.
  2. Sit comfortably on your chair, sitting close to the edge rather than all the way back.
  3. As you inhale, lift the right leg and hug it close to your chest with both hands. Flex the right foot and begin to drop the knee by rotating the thigh outward from the hip joint.
  4. Rest your right ankle on your left thigh, just above the left knee.
  5. If you feel a stretch without bending your torso forward toward your thighs, remain in this position and take a few breaths.
  6. If you do not feel the stretch, hold onto the seat of the chair and breathe in to lengthen the spine. Slowly exhale, drawing the pelvic floor and the lower belly in and up.
  7. Bend/fold forward at the hips and go as low as you can. Some people can fold easily until part of their torso rests comfortably on their bent leg. Others can only bend halfway. Stop wherever you feel most comfortable.
  8. Hold the stretched position for approximately 10 slow breaths.
  9. Sit back up and lift the ankle off the thigh, allowing your right leg to return to the floor.
  10. Repeat the entire process with the left leg.
  11. Ensure you keep the spine long and fold forward as far as your body will allow it. Stop if you feel any pain. A little discomfort from the stretch is fine, but sharp pain should be avoided as much as possible.
  12. Continue breathing throughout the stretch.

Read more: 4 Chair Workouts For Abs You Can Do At Your Desk.

Simple Chair Hip Openers For Seniors

As previously stated, chair yoga hip openers can be done by anybody – from professional athletes to gym goers and everyday office workers. However, chair yoga is targeted toward seniors, those who spend all day seated, and those with certain disabilities or health conditions that make traditional yoga difficult.

Here are some chair yoga hip openers for seniors to help deal with any tightness and improve balance and flexibility, which will make their lives easier.

chair yoga for seniors hip openers

Head-to Knee Forward Bend (Seated Janu Sirsasana)

This is a fantastic pose that offers a nice stretch from the hips to the hamstrings, all the way down to the ankles. The forward bend motion also helps stretch the back and spine.

  1. Sit at the edge of the seat on a sturdy chair with both legs planted firmly on the floor.
  2. Extend your right leg out in front of you.
  3. Inhale and make sure that you are seated in the correct posture – shoulders down and away from the ears, eyes facing forward, and back straight.
  4. Brace your core by pulling your belly button toward your spine. Remember to keep breathing.
  5. While exhaling, bend forward toward the outstretched right leg. Bend as far as you comfortably can.
  6. Hold this position for 8 to 10 breaths.
  7. While inhaling, sit back up and bring the right leg back to its original position.
  8. Pause, breathe, and rest for a few minutes before stretching the left leg and repeating the whole process.
See also
Can You Use Chair Yoga For Weight Loss?

Seated Hero Pose (Virasana)

The most common variation of the hero pose is performed on the floor and targets the quads and knees, increasing flexibility in the knees, ankles, and thighs. However, this variation may be too difficult for seniors with limited hip and knee mobility and flexibility.

The chair version eliminates this problem while targeting the hip flexors, which makes this pose great for tighter hips in older adults.

  1. While seated, move all the way to the back of the seat.
  2. Once comfortable, start moving toward the middle of the chair on your right side. Move until your right leg is completely off the chair. You should be basically sitting with just the left side of your body.
  3. To prevent falling, hold on to the chair with your left hand.
  4. Slowly lean to the left as you bend your right knee. Hold on to your right foot with your right hand. This will allow you to pull the foot in and closer to your butt cheek.
  5. Bring the foot as close to your buttock as possible and hold the position. You should feel this stretch in the quads – the muscles in the front of the thighs.
  6. Hold this stretch for 10 breaths before releasing the foot and returning to the original seated position.
  7. Breathe and rest for a minute before repeating the process for the left side.
See also
Wall Yoga: Unveiling The Perks And Techniques

hip openers in chair yoga

Yoga Chair Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

The lunge is a great lower-body exercise that is often included in glute and leg day workouts. They help build and strengthen muscles in the hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.

Chair Anjaneyasana is one of the best chair yoga for hips and knees you will ever encounter. This variation is great for those with knee problems as raising the knee to a high lunge is less painful than a low lunge.

  1. Stand from your chair and step away approximately the distance of an outstretched arm.
  2. Shift your weight to the right leg and lift the left leg, placing it on the seat of the chair.
  3. Once secure and stable, slowly lean forward toward your front leg. Place your left hand on your left thigh for improved balance.
  4. Check the position of your elevated knee. It should be right above the ankle – not in front or behind it. If it is too far forward, you may be imbalanced, and if it is too far back, you are not stretching enough.

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Seated King Arthur’s Pose

This looks quite similar to the hero’s pose and is great for stretching the quads,  psoas, and hip flexors.

  1. Sit at the edge of your chair and bend your left knee.
  2. Grab the outside of your left foot or ankle, and slowly draw your foot towards your butt.
  3. Sit in the correct posture, core tight, and hold the position for 8 breaths before releasing your foot.
  4. Repeat the process for the other side.

Seated Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Chair forward bend is a great beginner chair yoga that works equally well for seniors and anyone who is new to yoga. The seated variation does not demand as much flexibility as the traditional standing version.

  1. Sit at the edge of your chair. Place your feet flat on the floor with legs together and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Take a deep breath as you sit tall, exhaling as you bend forward from the hips, folding your torso over your thighs.
  3. Allow your head to fall, releasing any tension in the neck. Stretch your arms down to your toes and hold for 8 to 10 breaths.
  4. Perform a minimum of 5 reps of this movement.
See also
12 Chair Stretches To Relieve Work-From-Home Fatigue

Read more: Advanced Chair Yoga Poses: Elevate Your Strength.


What Is Gentle Chair Yoga?

Gentle chair yoga is a moderate version of traditional yoga that is done using a chair. Participants in these classes either sit on their chairs as they perform the poses or stand and use them for support.

This variation gets its name from the use of the chair, but also the fact that it has been modified to make it easier, less intense, non-strenuous, and somewhat restorative chair yoga.

The lower intensity and slower pace make it more accessible to older adults, those with varying levels of fitness and flexibility, and those with disabilities.

Do Hip Openers Widen Your Hips?

No, they do not. The width of your hips is determined by your bone structure, and exercise and stretching will not alter your bone structure.

Traditional and chair yoga hip openers will increase the range of motion and flexibility in your hip joints and muscles.

What Are Hip Openers Good For?

As previously mentioned, hip openers will help increase flexibility and range of motion in the hips. Mobile and flexible hips can serve to prevent back, hip, and knee pain, allowing you to move freely and comfortably throughout the day, and even enabling you to exercise better. 

Such exercises and stretches can also result in improved balance and stability and better posture.

Chair yoga hip openers for seniors

The Bottom Line

Chair yoga hip openers are fantastic yoga stretches that help keep your hips flexible and mobile. A sedentary lifestyle can result in muscles weakening or shortening, which can cause pain and many health problems.

By adding hip opener exercises to your routine, you will keep these muscles and joints active, mobile, and flexible, thereby preventing pain and reducing the risk of injury. The pigeon pose is considered to be the best hip opener exercise, but it is not the only good exercise that is available.

If your hips experience tightness or pain, try the above stretches and see if they work for you. Not only could they take the pain away, they are also safe for beginners and older adults.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. A Systematic Review of Yoga for Balance in a Healthy Population (2014,
  2. Hip strategy for balance control in quiet standing is reduced in people with low back pain (2004,
  3. Passive Versus Active Stretching of Hip Flexor Muscles in Subjects With Limited Hip Extension: A Randomized Clinical Trial (2004,
  4. The Influence of Stretching the Hip Flexor Muscles on Performance Parameters. A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis (2021,