As I mentioned in last week’s Calm Tip and the yoga pose of the month, the hips are where we often hold pent-up emotions and negative feelings, which is one reason why hip openers should be a part of your yoga practice. Additionally, open hips can lessen back pain; they help your knees; they align your pelvis and sacrum, allowing you to walk, sit, and move more comfortably; and open hips relieve sciatic and arthritic pain. Hip openers can also create space for new ideas and pathways.
Here are six poses to practice to open your hips:
1. Garland Pose
- Stand with your feet wider than hip-distance. Turn your feet out away from you.
- Squat down, and bring your hands to your heart with your elbows pressed against the inside of your knees. Try to keep your spine straight and long, and look out in front of you.
- If it feels okay, gently press your knees open a little more with each exhale.
2. Low Lunge
- Stand on your mat with your feet hip-distance.
- Take a big step forward with your right foot. Bend your right knee, making sure it’s right above your ankle or slightly behind. Also, be sure your foot is firmly planted.
- Bring your left knee down to the ground. (You can leave your foot flat on the mat or curl your toes).
- Place your hands at your heart, and press your hips forward, keeping your gaze eye-level.
- Repeat on the other side.
3. Cobbler’s Pose
- Sit on your yoga mat.
- Bring the bottoms of your feet to touch. Peel your feet open like a book; using your elbows, gently push your knees toward the ground.
- On each exhale, bring your upper body forward a little, keeping your spine long and your gaze out in front of you on the ground.
4. Happy Baby
- Lie on your back, and open your knees a little wider than hip-distance.
- Bring your knees towards your chest, and grab your ankles or the soles of your feet, whichever feels most comfortable. Keep your feet flexed, and bring your chin towards your chest.
- Gently pull your knees towards your armpits with each exhale.
5. Reclined Cow Face
- Lie on your back, and bend your knees, crossing your right ankle over your left thigh.
- Grab either the bottoms of your feet or your ankles (whichever is most comfortable). Make sure your low back is pressed firmly against the mat, and bring your chin towards your chest for a long spine.
- Gently pull your legs towards your chest for a deeper stretch.
- Repeat on the other side.
6. Reclining Bound Angle Pose
- Lie on your back
- Bring your chin to your chest for a long neck and spine, and press your low back into the mat.
- Bring the bottoms of your feet to touch, and relax, allowing gravity to pull your knees down towards the ground.
Hold each pose for five to 10 breaths.
“Yoga is not just a workout; it’s about working on yourself.” – Unknown
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