Hip opening poses help to reduce back pain. Emotionally, hip opening poses helps to alleviate pent up stress and negativity, bringing energy and vitality into your practice.
On Day 4 of our 5 Days of Yoga series, we want to work on hip opening exercises with some thigh stretches! We want to open the muscles of the hip area so that we can improve our circulation and loosen our pelvic joints. The poses introduced here will also stretch your thighs and hamstrings.
Doing these poses here will take about 15 minutes and is an introduction to the poses for yoga beginners. Of course, if you want a fuller practice, you may extend it by inserting any other yoga poses as per your body feels and needs – perhaps to begin with some warm-up cat and cows, and end off with a savasana resting pose
Start your practice with breathing exercises to align and stabilize your body with your mind.
Before your opening poses, take a deep breath first to clear out your lungs. Sit straight on your mat, cross-legged, with shoulders relaxed, and tailbone pointing downwards.
Proceed to breathe in and out, through your nose:
Inhale with 3 counts, hold for 2 counts, and exhale for 5 counts
Throughout the practice, you may want to hold each pose for 5 counts. If you have mastered an Ujjayi breath, you might want to try it. To activate the Ujjayi breath, also known as “ocean breathing” by some, you want to breathe through your nose only, whilst constricting the back of your throat, creating a misty breath that can fog up a mirror. This kind of breathing helps to create some warmth from the insides and relieve stress.
The High Crescent Lunge pose is a precursor to the Warrior I pose, and helps to lengthen the spine and stretch the spinal muscles. At the same time, it helps to open up the hip area. Please do avoid this pose if you experience any pain in the knees and hips.
- Begin by standing straight tall on the top of your mat, before doing a forward fold and reaching your palms flat at the front of the mat
- Extend one leg to reach the back of the mat
- Slowly raise your arms overhead after stabilising yourself. You might wish to do a slight back-bend at this point.
- From here, you may proceed to your Warrior I pose by placing your weight onto the front leg, lifting the back leg off and bringing your body parallel to the ground in a T shape.
- Otherwise, you might wish to come out of the pose the same way you came into it by placing your palms back on the mat
Do remember to do this again on the other side!
The reverse triangle pose helps to stretch the whole leg - especially the hamstrings and the thigh area. It also stretches the hips and the spine. Avoid this pose if you experience any joint pain.
- Begin by standing on your mat, with feet spread apart
- Place one leg facing forward, and the back leg 90-degrees facing to the side of the mat
Your body should face the side of the mat, not forwards.
- As you inhale, take a side stretch towards the front of the mat by bringing your front hand to the front of the mat and parallel to the ground
- Then, exhale and bring your torso downwards to the mat and place both hands down to the sides of your front feet
Do not dump your body weight on the hands – your hands should be light on the mat or even hovering!
If you cannot reach your feet or ankles, you might want to use a yoga block or brick to keep the balance.
- To challenge yourself, look upwards to the hand which should be pointing up.
- Do remember to repeat this on the other side with the opposite leg!
Usually used as a balancing pose, this pose also helps to strengthen your thigh muscles! Please refrain from this position if you experience any pain or hypertension.
- You can transition into this pose from the high crescent lunge (as shown above)
- Instead of going to Warrior I pose, slowly bring your weight forward to the front standing leg and bring your front hands to try to touch the ground. At the same time, lift your back leg parallel to the mat, and your other hand to lift to the sky, turning your torso to face the side of the room.
- Hold this position for a few moments, any other variations are optional
If you cannot reach the mat, having a yoga block or brick around you would help extend your hands to reach the ground.
For a challenge, you might want to point your gaze to the sky to test your balance.
- Remember to repeat this on the other side
To end the session, remember to thank yourself for the time taken on the mat.
A last hip opening exercise would be to do a Malasana pose - place your feet hip width distance apart, and simply do a squat. You may place your hands together in front of you, and use your elbows to keep your feet stretched apart. This will help relieve some stress in the hip area! Finally you may wish to have a resting pose like savasana (lying on your backs for a moment to reconnect with your breath), but with a variation where you butterfly your legs together (knees bent and reaching splayed on the sides towards the ground, feet together).
Hope you had a good practice!