Are you already back in the grind at work spending hours sitting at your desk? Do you feel hip pain during or after sports and workouts? Are your hips tight? If the answer to any of the questions is yes, it is time to stretch your hips. “Strong, limber muscles are the key to pain-free hips and knees,” says William Levine, MD, director of sports medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.
Extended sitting aggravates the muscles that surround and support the pelvic bowl–the hip flexors, external/internal hip rotators, adductors, abductors, psoas, piriformis, gluteus muscles and hamstrings. Our pelvic bowl joins our lower and upper bodies, which means that when our hips suffer, so does everything below and above them. Tight hips can be the cause of sciatica, knee discomfort, and osteoarthritis, as well as pain in the lower/upper back, shoulders and neck.
If your hips are tight or achy, consider stretching them regularly to improve the joint mobility (check with your doctor if you have pain or are experiencing any worrying symptoms). Even those of us born with flexibility work consistently to maintain hip health. Open hips not only help to be more comfortable at work and during every day life activities but also enhance performance and safety during sports from tennis to basket ball, rock climbing to surfing.
In the photographs below, I demonstrate a few yoga poses for tight hips. I do these poses a few times a week and recommend that you do too. Hold each pose for approximately 1-2 minutes. Practice safely and without pain. Hips can be extremely vulnerable when pushed too far. The New York Times Science reporter and author, William Broad, wisely asserts, “Better to do yoga in moderation and listen carefully to your body. That temple, after all, is your best teacher.”
For complete progressive online 10-30 minute yoga classes and individual pose instruction on video with me as your teacher, join the JWM now here! There is something for everyone, beginner to advanced yogis as well as if you need to do yoga at work, during travel, if you are injured or ill.
Modified Saddle Pose I (Yin Yoga Variation Of Supta Virasana)
Kneel on your heels with your knees separated mat-width apart and big toes touching behind you. If you experience pain or discomfort in your knees or quads, roll a blanket into a log shape and lay it horizontally in the creases of your knees (the bigger the roll, the less pressure). Then, lean back using your hands to support your torso a few inches away from your buttocks, fingers facing your body.
Modified Saddle Pose II
If it is available to you, from Modified Saddle Pose I, bend your elbows and lower your forearms onto blocks. If you can go deeper, get rid of the blocks and place your forearms on the mat.
Saddle Pose (Yin Yoga Variation Of Supta Virasana)
Finally, lie all the way on the ground with your arms beside your hips or resting on your belly to assume the full manifestation of Saddle Pose.
Modified Lizard Pose (Modified Utthan Pristhasana)
Come onto your hands and knees. Step your right foot forward about an inch toward the right edge of your mat to assume a knee lunge position. Let your hips sink forward and place your forearms on the ground to support your torso (use blocks for extra elevation if needed). Let your back soften towards the floor. After holding for 1-2minutes, repeat on the left side.
Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
From modified Lizard Pose, curl your back toes under. Elevate your back inner thigh off the ground so that you are balancing on your forearms and left toes only. Hug your right knee in towards your midline. Gaze below your face or slightly ahead. Let your upper back melt towards the ground (try not to round).
Straddle Split (Upavista Konasana)
Open your legs into a V position. If your pelvis scoops backwards under your torso (a posterior tilt), fold a blanket and sit on it. Over time, work to increase the angle of your V by sliding your hips forward while keeping your legs planted in the same place.
Bound Angle (Baddho Konasana)
Come into a seated position with the soles of your feet together. Elevate onto a blanket if needed and use blocks for support under your thighs if they are high off the ground. Hold your feet with your hands and open them upward. Simultaneously, use your inner thigh muscles and elbows to press your upper legs towards the floor. If you can do so with a long spine, begin to hinge at your hips to assume a forward bend towards your feet (if your spine begins to round, skip the forward bend and work upright).
Half Hanumanasana (Half Monkey Pose)
Come onto your hands and knees. Extend your right foot in front of you balancing on your heel (If you are too high to support yourself with your hands on the ground place blocks beside your hips and rest your hands on them). Pull your toes back towards your body (dorsi flexion). If you can maintain a long spine, begin to hinge at your right hip to fold over your right leg, aiming your face to your shin. After holding for 1-2 minutes, repeat on the left side.
Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)
From the upright half hanumanasana position, slide your right foot forward and lower your hip structure towards the mat. You will likely need to place 1-2 blocks under your right sit bone for support. As you become more flexible, lower your props.