Did you know that you may be suffering from tight hip joints and not even realize it? While you may attribute your lower back pain and stiff muscles to sleeping the wrong way or bending awkwardly, your hips may actually be to blame.
How can you tell?
Take this quick test.
Stand and look at your feet. Do your toes point outward instead of straight ahead? If so, your hips are tight and need a good stretch. Besides back pain, poor posture and difficulty walking are also attributed to tight hip muscles.
That’s where yoga and hip opening poses come in. They can loosen up your joints, improve mobility and ease those aches and pains.
It’s time to strike a pose with these five hip opening yoga poses.
1. Happy Baby Pose
Think about how a baby lies on the floor with their feet in the air. That’s pretty much how this pose goes. Lie on your back on your mat and pull your knees to your chest. Chances are you’ll start to feel a stretch already. Next, put your hands on the outsides of your feet so that your knees open wider than your torso. Press your feet into your hands while pulling down on your feet. Breathe deeply. Try to hold this pose for at least 30 seconds.
2. Half Pigeon Pose
Start by putting your right leg forward, with your right knee over your right ankle and back leg straight as if you were doing a runner’s lunge. Walk your right foot toward your left hand. Drop your right shin and thigh to the floor while keeping your right knee in line with your right hip. Let your left leg rest on the floor with the top of your left foot facing down. Square your hips to the front of the room. You can either hold here and feel the stretch or hinge at the hips and lower your torso toward the floor. Your head will rest on your forearms allowing for a deeper stretch in your hips. Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
3. Dancer’s Pose
Feel like a dancer and open up your hips with this pose. Stand on one foot. Lift and bend the other leg into a hamstring curl. Grab the raised foot from the inside with the same side of the hand. Make sure your palm is facing out. Firmly press the top of your foot into your palm and lift up. The higher you lift, the deeper the stretch.
4. Bound Angle Pose
Sit with your knees flopped open to the sides. Bring the soles of the feet together to touch the heels. Open your feet like a book. Hinge at the hips and fold forward until you feel a good stretch. The more you practice this pose, the deeper you’ll be able to go.
5. Thread the Needle Pose
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Position your left ankle below your right knee so that you’re making a number “four” shape with your left leg. Next, place your left arm through the opening your created with your legs and clasp your hands behind your right knee. Lift your right foot off the floor while pulling your right knee toward your chest. Keep your left foot flexed. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
If you want to see a difference in how your hips feel, try to cycle through these poses three or four times a week. After you’ve been doing them for a few weeks, try the standing test again mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, and see if you notice a difference in how your toes are pointed. If you don’t see results right away, keep at it! Soon enough you will see and feel a difference!