Tight hips, while very common in today’s predominantly sedentary culture which involves us sitting down in front of our desks for long hours every day, can lead to a host of problems. For one, it can cause the misalignment of the spine, leading to lower back pain or even injury.
Hip joints are a type of ball and socket joints that connect our thigh bones or femurs to our pelvic bone. This type of joint allows us to move in a wider range than other joints such as the knee and elbow joints. However, if you do not stretch or use this joint to its full potential, it can get stiff, sore, or inflexible and reduce your range of motion. In fact, Prevention advisor Rob Danoff from Philadelphia said that when we sit for a long time, the hip rotators and flexors tighten and the muscles become weak, affecting our ability to maintain proper posture, walk correctly, and stabilize the spine.
That’s why it is important to do hip opening positions such as lunges and squats regularly not just to target the hips but also other related muscles like the lower back and pelvic floor muscles. Try these five top yoga exercises to stretch your hips!
1. Bound Angle or Butterfly Pose
● Sit tall with your back straight on your mat, your knees bent and drawn up close to your body, and your feet together and placed flat on the mat about a foot away from the buttocks.
● Then, slowly let your knees drop to your sides, keeping your soles together.
● Inhale while you stretch your spine then gradually adjust your heels inward towards the groin.
2. Low Lunge
● Stand up and from this position, step your left leg backward, allowing your left knee to touch the floor and raising your arms straight up to the sky, keeping them close to your ears.
● In a quick motion, step the left foot forward to meet the right foot, all while sweeping your arms back to your sides.
● Repeat by stepping your right leg back and keep alternating for up to 10 to 15 reps per leg.
3. Half Pigeon
● Start in a runner’s lunge with your right leg forward and your left leg straight backward. Keep your right knee over your right ankle.
● Put the right foot toward your left hand and drop your thigh and shin to the floor with your right knee aligned with the hip.
● Rest your left leg on the floor with your sole facing upward.
● Hold your hip forward and hold for at least 30 seconds. You can also pivot at the hip and lower your torso with your head resting on your forearms.
● Repeat on the other side.
4. Reclining Hero Pose
● Kneel with your knees together, thighs perpendicular to the floor, and your soles facing up.
● Slide your feet apart a little wider than your hips, pressing the top of your feet evenly on the mat.
● Sit down slowly in between your feet and use your hands to hold your thighs inward.
● Lean back onto your forearms and lower your torso toward the floor. Hold for at least 30 seconds.
5. Frog Pose
● Get down on all fours with your palms firm on the floor.
● Slowly part your knees until you feel your inner thighs stretching, keeping the contact between the floor and your inner calves and feet.
● Keep your ankles aligned with the knees.
● Lower to your forearms and hold for 30 seconds.
Aside from increasing your hip motion and flexibility, yoga exercises can also help you relax and reduces the tension on your pelvic floor.