Of the many health problems most people report today, tight hips and lower back pain tend to top the list. These ailments are on the rise, mainly because most people today spend majority of their time sitting down. Sitting down for extended durations limits how long and how much you exercise your hip muscles. So, if you sit for extended durations, your hip muscles are not exercised, and as a result, they become stiff or tight. Tightness in your hip muscles is not only discomforting but also limits your motion. It might explain why you are advised to perform yoga poses for hips regularly.
If you are new to yoga, then identifying yoga poses for hips can be as challenging as finding a needle in a haystack. Do not worry, though, as this article will discuss some of the best yoga poses for hips. We will look at the best poses and stretches to improve hip flexibility and reduce hip tightness. Read on for insight on yoga poses and stretches to add to your routine for improved flexibility, wider hips, and reduced tightness.
Yoga For Hips
Yoga is one of the most popular practices in the fitness industry, perhaps due to its vast array of health benefits. It can help promote strength, flexibility, endurance, calmness, and overall well-being (8). There are numerous types of yoga, including restorative, Kundalini, Hatha, prenatal, and Iyengar yoga.
Although they all have different concepts, the underlying factor is that they promote the same health benefits. Some people think that yoga can only help in improving concentration and not targeting various body parts. On the contrary, you can work on specific body areas using yoga. In our case, we will be targeting the hip flexors.
You can use yoga to target your hip muscles, especially if they are stiff or in pain. Similarly, you can also perform various yoga techniques for wider hips. However, before you try any of the listed yoga poses or stretches, you are advised to first talk to your doctor.
If you do get their clearance, sit down with your yoga instructor and compile a workout plan from the listed exercises. Curious to know what these yoga poses for hips are? Well, let us dive straight into it!
Benefits: If you are looking for yoga poses for hips flexibility, then look no further. The Pigeon Pose is one of the best yoga postures to stretch and improve flexibility in your external hip rotator (7).
The hip external rotators are vital for daily movements that require you to place most of your body weight on one leg, for example, getting into a car. Doing the Pigeon Pose will help improve flexibility in this area and reduce injuries or weaknesses that may arise from extended periods of inactivity (7).
- Start on all fours and bring your right knee towards your right wrist. Position your right ankle in front of your left hip. Bring your shin as close to perpendicular to your left leg as possible.
- Slide your left leg back and keep it extended. Make sure your toes are pointed such that your heel is facing towards the ceiling.
- Inhale, elongate your spine, pull in your navel, and come up onto your fingertips.
- Exhale and lower your upper body to the floor. If you can, go ahead and rest both your arms and forehead on the floor.
- Hold this position for five slow and deep breaths.
- Push through your hands and lift your hips. It will move you back onto all your fours.
- Do the same on the other side.
Quick Note: You can easily injure yourself while doing this yoga move if you do not use the correct alignment or posture. Learn how to do this pose by seeking help from a certified instructor or yogi. Alternatively, you can start with simple variations before doing this pose. Also, do this pose regularly if you want to find the proper alignment and improve your hips flexibility.
Benefits: Besides working your glutes, the Bridge Pose also stretches and strengthens the muscles around your hips. It helps in fighting any stiffness in the hip region and related injuries (5).
- Lie on your back with your arms resting by your sides, palms facing downward, and knees bent. Try to pull in your heels close to your rear.
- Press your hips up until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Again, try to lift your hips as high as you can without feeling any pain or discomfort. Bring your hands together beneath you.
- Think about pushing your knees forward and pulling your pubic bone towards your navel.
- Slightly lift your chin and slide your shoulder blades down. Also, widen your collarbones.
- Hold this position between 30 and 60 seconds.
- Slowly lower your hips back to the floor. Rest for some seconds and repeat.
Benefits: The Frog Pose is categorized among the yoga poses for wider hips. It is because it helps in opening up your hips. It is also an excellent yoga posture to try to target and stretch your inner thighs.
- Get down on all your fours. Make sure your palms and knees are firmly pressed on the floor. If the floor is uneven or rough, place a mat to avoid any injuries or discomfort.
- Slowly start widening your knees until you start feeling your inner thighs stretch. You can widen your knees as much as you can without any discomfort or pain. Keep the inside of each calf and foot on the floor when you are widening your knees. Similarly, remember to keep your ankles aligned with your knees.
- Lower your forearms, keep your back straight, and hold this position for at least 30 seconds.
Quick Note: You may tend to sustain injuries when doing the Frog Pose if you do it on a rough surface. So, use a yoga mat when doing this exercise. Likewise, listen to your body and widen your knees to a point where you are comfortable. Like with any other yoga technique, overstretching can be fatal and lead to pain, injuries, or discomfort.
Crescent Lunge Twist
Benefits: The Crescent Lunge Twist is one of the poses you can do to stretch your hips. It can also help promote a bowel movement and prevent constipation as it entails the twisting of the torso (1).
- Start in a standing position and lunge forward using your right leg. You will have to bend your right knee but maintain the left leg straight.
- Clasp your hands in front of your chest and then slowly start to bend your upper body towards your right knee. It would help if you led the movement using your left shoulder. As you do this, remember to keep your back straight and neutral and chest upright.
- Hold the pose for a couple of breaths before returning to the starting position.
- Repeat the technique on the opposite leg.
- Lie flat with your back on the floor and bend your knees and bring them towards your chest. Extend your arms to either side of your body.
- Gently start rotating your knees towards the left side, lowering them towards the floor. Keep your knees together throughout the movement. Remember to rotate your head to the right and keep your shoulders against the floor throughout this movement.
- Rest your knees on a pillow or the floor. Hold this position for 20 or 30 seconds.
- Slowly lift your knees and tilt your head to the initial position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Quick Note: Any movement that entails twisting must be done under the guidance of a certified yoga instructor. If any twisting technique is done incorrectly, you risk injuring your back or worsening any existing back pain or problems.
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Low Lunge Pose
Benefits: The Low Lunge Pose targets the hip flexors and can help in improving their flexibility. WebMD also ranks this yoga pose as one of the postures that can help you age better, build strength, and keep you flexible (3). Likewise, the posture also offers the lunge benefits, with an added advantage of increased back leg stability.
- Stand upright with your feet hip-distance apart. Your arms should be resting by your sides.
- Step the right foot forward and start to bend slowly. Bend the knee until it is directly over your ankle.
- Keep your left leg straight and behind you. You can choose to have either your shin or knee resting on the floor. If necessary, you can place a towel under your back leg.
- Press your hands or fingers into the ground to the side of your right heel. Keep your upper body lifted.
- Breathe normally for 20 seconds and maintain this stance. Return to the standing position and repeat on the opposite leg.
The Best Hip Stretches
If yoga is not your cup of tea, then you can shift to hip stretches to help fight stiffness and improve flexibility. Below are some of the best and safest stretches to help in loosening up your hip flexors:
External Hip Rotation
Benefits: The External Hip Rotation move can help strengthen hips, relieve hip pain, and improve joint mobility (6). It can also reduce stiffness in your hip area, making it one of the best yoga poses for tight hips.
- Start by sitting on a mat with your legs stretched in front.
- Bend both legs at your knees and bring the soles of both feet together.
- Place your hands on top of each of their respective knees and gently push them towards the floor. Make sure you are applying enough pressure to give you a good stretch. However, do not push so much until it is either uncomfortable or painful.
- Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and then relax.
Reps: 5 to 10 times
Benefits: Hip Flexion ranks among the best stretches to relieve hip pain and reduce tightness or stiffness in your hips (6).
- Stand upright and close to a sturdy surface such as a wall, bench, or chair. You will need any of the following for support when performing hip flexions.
- Stretch one arm to the side and let it hold on to the sturdy surface. You can place the other arm on your hips.
- Start to slowly raise your right knee to your hip level or as high as you can comfortably lift it. Keep the left leg straight and firmly pressed on the floor.
- While your right knee lifts to your hip level, hold this position for a second. After that, release and place it back on the floor.
- Repeat with your left knee. Alternatively, you can complete the reps on this side before switching sides.
Reps: 5 to 10
Hip Flexor And Quadriceps Stretch
Benefits: The Hip Flexor and Quadriceps Stretch helps in alleviating tight hips that may occur when tension builds up in your hip flexors (9).
- Stand upright facing a wall with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on the wall for extra support and balance.
- Take a step back using your right foot. While doing this, try and keep your knee bent.
- Slightly bend your left knee and make sure that it does not go beyond the toes.
- Clench your butt muscles and keep them under your hips. You will feel a gentle pulling sensation in front of your right hip and thigh.
- Stay in this position for a minute.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Benefits: Doing a pelvic title will help you stretch tight muscles in your hips or lower back (2).
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet pressed on the ground.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles and relax your back to give it a slight curve to the spine.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds and remember to breathe normally.
- Release and repeat
Benefits: Knee lifts can also help stretch the muscles around your hip joint and reduce stiffness in this area (6). You can, therefore, do knee lifts if you are trying to get rid of tight hips. However, Medical News Today recommends you perform knee lifts when you are less stiff and experiencing little pain. This is after you have relaxed these muscles, perhaps by taking a warm shower (6).
- Lie on your back and extend both of your legs flat and on the floor. Keep your back straight and face up towards the ceiling.
- Slowly start to pull your right knee up. It will appear as if you are trying to hug your right knee. Pull it as close as you can to your chest. Use both hands to help you pull the knee towards the chest. As you do this, remember to keep your left leg straight and rested on the floor.
- Hold this stretch for at least 10 seconds.
- Let go of the knee and gently rest the right leg on the floor.
- Repeat and later switch legs.
Reps: 5 to 10
Guide To Doing Yoga For Hips
Perhaps reading this piece has made you think of doing these poses first thing tomorrow morning. Good for you! Such motivation is vital in any yoga or exercise program. However, before you start doing these poses and stretches, you must understand the following:
- You need the guidance of a certified yoga instructor to help you learn the correct technique of these poses.
- You need to practice these poses and stretches regularly for maximum benefits.
- Some poses may have variations, which may be appropriate depending on your fitness level. Talk to your instructor to determine what variation of each pose or stretch suits you best.
The Bottom Line
If you are trying to get rid of hip tightness or improve hips flexibility, then yoga is an excellent option. However, as we all know, there are hundreds of yoga poses available. You cannot randomly pick any yoga technique online and expect it to help you attain your fitness goals.
Instead, you have to limit your search to yoga poses for hips. Some of the best yoga poses for hips and lower back pain are the Bridge and Frog Pose. If you want some yoga poses for flexibility, try the Pigeon, Crescent Lunge, Low Lunge, and Two-Knee Twist.
If yoga is not your thing, then try stretching exercises targeting your hips. They can also help improve flexibility and fight tightness in your hips. The best stretches to try include hip flexions, external hip rotation, pelvic tilts, knee lifts, and the hip flexor and quadriceps stretch.
As always, talk to your doctor and fitness coach before starting an exercise program or making changes to an existing one. Similarly, remember to stop doing any of the listed poses and stretches immediately you experience any pain.
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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 for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 8 yoga poses to relieve constipation (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- 7 stretches and exercises for scoliosis (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- 6 Yoga Poses That Age Well (2019, webmd.com)
- 6 yoga poses to help with back pain (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- 12 Basic Yoga Poses (2019, webmd.com)
- Exercises and stretches for hip pain (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Hip external rotation: Stretches, exercises, and more (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How does yoga work? (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Stretches for tight hips: Tips and how to do them (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)