The hips. An often neglected part of the body. Before I started practicing yoga I thought nothing of my hips, except for in a “waist to hip” ratio type of way. I never thought about what was happening under the shape I coveted. The muscles, and joints that worked hard to keep my low back safe and my legs moving. The muscles and joints that I was slowly killing each time I sat down for extended periods of times.
I don’t mean to be so morbid, but a lot of us tend to forget about our hip joints and muscles when we think about health and fitness. But those joints do a lot of work, and when they’re weak, they force the lower back to do work it isn’t supposed to be doing, which can lead to back pain. Over my time practicing and researching yoga, one thing I‘ve learned is a high number of people suffer from back pain (the stats skip my mind now, but if you’re curious, google can help out).
The other thing is that, if all of your lower body is healthy, back pain can be avoided. Mark over at Mark’s Daily Apple shares in more detail why healthy hip muscles and joints are essential for our bodies. The TL;DR version is what I’ve shared above. But if you’re really interested in learning more about hip mobility, check him out. Now, let’s get down to these beginner yoga poses for open hips.
5 Beginner Yoga Poses for Open Hips
Remember to hold each poses for 3 to 5 slow and deep breaths. Relaxing any tense muscles with every exhalation.
Yoga Squat Pose | Malasana
How To: Begin in mountain pose. Step your feet apart, about the distance of your mat and turn your toes out slightly. Exhale to bend your knees and slowly lower your bottom towards the mat, keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground. Make sure your belly is sucked in towards your spine keeping your core engaged, and your head is reaching up towards the ceiling, elongating your spine. Lean forward to place your upper body between your thighs, place your hands in prayer position, and then gently use your elbows to push your knees apart. Relax your shoulders. To come out, lean forward to place your palms on the floor. Gently lift your hips to straighten your legs. And then return to mountain pose.
Benefits: Stretches the hip and groin muscles, strengthens calves, shoulders and ankles.
Low Lunge | Anjaneyasana
How To: Starting in downward dog, step your left foot forward between your hands and lower the right knee to the ground. Ensure that your left knee is stacked right above your left ankle. On an inhale, lift your torso up and extend your arms up towards the ceiling, palms facing one another. Tuck your tailbone under slightly to prevent crunching your lower back. Suck your belly in towards your spine to engage your core. Relax your shoulders, and slowly allow your hips to sink down towards the mat/floor. To come out, exhale and lower your palms to the floor. Return to downward dog.
Benefits: Stretches hips and thighs. Strengthens shoulders, upper back and core.
Lizard Pose | Utthan Pristhasana
How To: Starting in downward dog, step your left foot forward between your hands and lower the right knee to the ground. Move your left foot out several inches to the left, then bring both palms to rest on your mat on the inside of your left foot. Bring your elbows to rest on the floor and slowly allow your hips to sink towards the mat. Make sure your belly stays sucked in towards your spine, and your left foot stays flat on the mat. To come out, straighten your arms and return to downward dog on an exhale.
Benefits: Stretches hips and thighs.
Figure Four Pose | Eka Pada Utkatasana
How to: Begin in mountain pose. Lift your left leg and place your left ankle on your right knee. Lean forward slightly and slowly lower your hips by bending the standing leg. Place your hands in prayer position, and gently use your left elbow to push your left knee towards the floor to stretch the left hip. Make sure your tailbone is tucked down towards the ground, and that your belly is sucked in towards your spine. Look straight ahead with your chest reaching towards the front of the room. Relax your shoulders. To come out, on an exhale, slowly lower your leg and straighten up into mountain pose.
Benefits: Stretches the hips and lower back. Strengthens the thigh, ankle and calve muscles.
Happy Baby | Ananda Balasana
How To: Start by lying on your back. Lift both knees in towards your chest. Reach your arms between your knees and grab a hold of the outer edge of each foot with your palms. Lift your legs away from your thighs to place your legs at an angle. Flex your foot and make sure they are facing the ceiling. Gently pull your thighs down towards your chest, as you push your feet into your arms at the same time. To come out of this pose, release your feet and return to lying on your back.
Benefits: Stretches hips, thighs and lower back.
And there you have it. 5 beginner yoga poses for open hips. Let me know if you try these out, and if any of them still seem too hard, that’s ok! Check out the free modifications poster below with tips to make these beginner poses even more accessible.