When I first started learning about yoga I heard a lot about hip openers. So much so that it seemed repetitive, ubiquitous even. Was every posture designed to open the hips?
The answer is, almost. A lot of postures you do in yoga are designed to open or stretch the hips and in doing so, you will alleviate pains in your back, knees, and neck. The hips are the door way to the body: if the muscles are tight a cascade of issues will follow.
· Reduced range of motion
· Weakened gluteal muscles
· Tilted pelvis
· Excessive curvature in the spine
· Low backaches
Now I did say that a lot of the postures you do in yoga stretch the hips, but there are some that are easy to do at home and ideal for someone just starting out in yoga.
Child’s pose is one of my favorite postures and it’s an easy hip opener. If you’re just starting out in yoga, you may not be able to do the full expression of the pose. A quick tip is to place a block between the legs so the hips have a place to rest and don’t just hover.
Hand to big toe pose is another easy posture that can be done at home. A more advanced yogi may do this pose standing, with their first and middle fingers (peace fingers) wrapped around their big toe; however I rarely do. It can be done lying flat on your back with a strap. If a strap is unavailable, tie two neckties together—it works the same.
Easy pose is another option for a beginning hip opener. It is, quite simply, sitting cross-legged. For some, easy pose isn’t actually easy. Tight hips prevent knees from resting near the floor. If this is the case, place yoga blocks beneath the knees, or if blocks are unavailable, use pillows.
The last pose I’ll offer for a person new to yoga is a wide leg forward bend. Standing with legs as wide as is comfortable and folding forward not only opens the hips, it can be a soothing pose to do before bed or meditation. A block may be used if the hands aren’t able to find the floor, or a low table.
Yoga is a very personal experience. You may chose to only do a few poses while someone else may make yoga a more integral part of their life. There’s no right or wrong to yoga. Even if you only do a few of these suggested hip openers to start, after a short time, you’ll notice a difference in the way you feel.
If you'd like me to offer some suggestions for starting your own in-home yoga practice or if you have any questions about hip openers, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.