There are many reasons why I started practising yoga over 5 years ago. I practice to balance my mind and raise my self-awareness. It also has helped me build a deeper connection with my bodies. I also wanted to address my tight hips and find ways to increase my hip mobility. Your hips are among the most vulnerable yet crucial parts of our bodies. So specific asanas can help you look after them in the best possible way.
Some of the easy yoga hip openers include Child's Pose, Happy Baby Pose, Cobbler's Pose, Figure 4 Pose, and Lotus Pose. If you are dealing with any knee injury, standing poses like High Lunge and Crescent Lunge can help. More intense poses include Lizard Pose, Garland Pose, and Frog pose.
Below are 11 of my favourite easy yoga hip opening poses. I have found them to be very effective yoga hip openers and most are accessible for yoga newbies.
Child's Pose (Balasana)
Child's Pose, known with its Sanskrit name Balasana, is a pose you would have encountered straight away in your yoga journey. Balasana is a fantastic resting pose that can be used before or after an intense vinyasa flow. It allows you to bring your focus back to the breathing and establish your breath.
Balasana can also help you breathe into your back, which we don't often do during our daily lives fully, but it can help stretch and expand those essential muscles.
The benefits that come with this pose are endless. However, it is particularly recommended if you are looking to increase the mobility of your hips. Indeed, this is an extremely gentle hip opener that is easily accessible by all beginner yogis.
By breathing into your lower back in this position, you can expand the hips and lower back. The pose you hold in Child's Pose can also help you stretch the ankles and thighs and relieve back pain.
How to do Child's Pose
- Kneel on the floor or start in all-fours.
- Bring your toes together and sit back on your heels.
- Separate your knees so they are at hip-width distance.
- As you exhale, fold forward, bringing your torso between the thighs.
- Lengthen your tailbone down as you extend the base of your skull away from your neck.
- Release your hand by your side or stretch them in front of you for Extended Child's Pose. Release your shoulders down towards the floor.
- Remain in Balasana for as long as you need.
Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Cobbler's Pose, also called Butterfly Pose or Baddha Konasana in Sanskrit, is a seated pose that can help you release the hip flexors with the help of gravity. While most babies and children find this position natural, many adults lose the ability to rest while sitting in Baddha Konasana because of their lifestyle.
Baddha Konasana can help you leverage gravity to stretch the hips and groins. While it is a pose suitable for meditative practice, it can also help you prepare for more demanding meditative poses.
How to do Cobbler's Pose
- Start by sitting upright on the floor or the mat. Put a folded towel or blanket under your sacrum for extra padding.
- Bend your knees, allowing your feet’s soles to meet in front of you.
- As you do so, you will notice your knees falling out on your sides.
- Pull your feet closer to your body until it feels comfortable.
- Use your hands to keep the feet together while the legs approach the mat.
- Keep your spine always long and erect.
This pose might not be so suitable for those who suffered from any knee injury. If you feel pain in the knees, exit the pose.
Runner's Lunge (High Lunge)
The high lunge is an excellent standing pose if you wish to start working on your hips flexibility. By remaining in the runner's lunge during your yoga flow, you will be stretching the groin, as well as legs and arms.
However, this pose can also help strengthen the quads and hip flexors while stretching them. So, you can count on added support when moving towards more challenging asanas.
How to do Runner's Lunge
- Start from forwarding bend or Uttanasana.
- Bend your knees.
- While inhaling, step one foot back. Balance yourself on the ball of the foot that is at the back. Your foot should be far enough that your front knee is bent.
- Keeping your back straight, move your torso forward, so it lays on your thigh and looks forward.
- Keep your front leg active and engaged.
- Push the top of your back leg towards the ceiling. Do so while also stretching your back heel down towards the floor.
- Repeat on the other side.
A great variation of this pose is the Crescent lunge. You can start performing it from your high lunge—lift your torso, so it is in line with your hips, and bring your arms towards the ceiling. Imagine holding a beach ball between your arms while keeping both legs and the torso active and engaged. This lunge is an excellent preparatory pose for Warrior II.
Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
If you are looking for a slightly greater stretch, you might consider the Lizard Pose. This pose is excellent if you wish to find a way to stretch your hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings simultaneously.
Indeed, you might still experience a restricted range of motion even when the hip flexors are mobile if your quads or hamstrings are tight. Don't forget that they are all connected.
How to do Lizard Pose
- Use the steps above to come into a lunge. Position yourself so the front knee is directly above the front toes.
- Bring your back knee to the floor—this should already offer you an additional stretch in the hips.
- Sink your hips in the space the legs create while keeping them as in line as possible.
- Proceed to lower your forearm towards the floor. This movement will bring your torso closer to the floor.
- Keep the spine as straight as possible, and your head and chest raised.
- Hold Lizard Pose for up to 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Lizard Pose might not be accessible by all yogis immediately. Indeed, while it yields a deeper stretch of the hip flexors and quads, it does require you a certain level of flexibility. However, you can always start practicing it by modifying it to your needs. You might also use blocks, a bolster, or a rug to bring the floor closer to your elbows.
Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)
How to do Pigeon Pose
- Start from Downward Facing Dog. Lift the right leg, bend it at the knee, and bring it forward.
- Allow the leg to land in front of you by bringing the knee to the floor. The shin might remain at an angle or become parallel with the mat—depending on your flexibility.
- Allow the left knee to come down to the mat and point your back foot towards the back of the mat.
- Square the hips and start bringing your torso down over the bent right leg..
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
If you have ever seen a toddler playing with his feet while lying on the floor, you know what to expect from this pose. Happy Baby Pose is an excellent pose that can help you release your hips and reduce back pain. However, it can also calm the brain, help you find relaxation, and relieve stress and anxiety symptoms.
How to do Happy Baby Pose
- Start by lying on your back.
- Bend your knees towards your torso.
- Grab the outside of your feet as you open the knees.
- Ensure your knees are wider than your torso.
- Flex the feet and lift the ankles so they are directly over the knees. The shins should now be perpendicular to the floor.
- Push the feet into your hands. Use the traction of your arms towards the floor to create some resistance. If you can't yet reach your feet, use straps looped around them to start pulling them towards you.
Figure 4 Pose
Figure 4 Pose is a stretch you can do at the end of every workout or yoga flow. Indeed, it is suitable to perform before your final resting pose (Shavasana). This pose brings you an excellent hips, legs, quads, and hamstrings stretch. It can be as gentle or as stimulating as you wish it to be. It is a great pose to start practising the standing Figure 4 Pose.
How to do Figure 4 Pose
- Start by lying on your back. Make sure your back is flat on the mat or floor.
- Bend your knees so your feet’s soles are in contact with the mat.
- Gently cross the left ankle over the right knee, keeping the left foot flexed.
- Lift the right leg, bringing the knee towards your chest.
- With your left hand, reach through the space created between the two legs.
- Interlace your fingers with your other hand under the right knee.
- Add traction by gently pulling the leg towards your chest. This movement will cause a stretch in the other leg.
Garland Pose (Malasana)
Garland Pose, known as Malasana, is a deep squat often used in yoga to release the hips. Malasana is also a preparatory pose for more demanding asanas. When in Malasana, you can stretch the groin, hips, and thighs.
This pose is also a great way to elongate your ankles and torso while engaging the core. Because of the muscles involved in this pose, it can be incredibly beneficial for digestion and colon function.
How to do Garland Pose
- Start in mountain pose (Tadasana) with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
- Move your feet, so they are as wide as your mat and broader than your hips.
- Bend your knees while keeping your back straight and come into a squat.
- Keep lowering your buttocks towards the floor while separating your thighs.
Once in position, if you have noticed that your knees tend to come inwards, you can push them outwards gently with your elbow. If your heels don't touch the floor, use a prop or folded blanket to close the gap between them and the floor.
Frog Pose (Mandukasana)
Frog Pose might represent a more demanding stretch than some seen above. However, you can leverage pillows and bolsters to bring the floor closer to your body. This strategy can help you experience the stretch and make the pose more accessible.
While in Frog Pose, you will be stretching your hip joints, quads, and lower torso. Because of the position, you will also strengthen your lower back, limit strain on the knees, and aid your digestion.
How to do Frog Pose
- Start in a tabletop position.
- Move both of your knees outwards towards the edges of your mat.
- Continue to open your knees outwards and stretch the groin until you can feel the stretch but no pain.
- Turn your feet outwards, so they are perpendicular to the edges of the mat.
- Lower on your forearms to deepen the stretch.
- Release into Child's Pose.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Camel Pose, also known as Ustrasana, can be extremely beneficial if you are looking to open up your hips' front part. While in this position, you can also stretch your joints and the quads.
Because Camel Pose is a backbend, it also increases the spine's flexibility and mobility, strengthening the muscles of your lower back. In turn, this can ensure that your hips are protected and less prone to injury.
It is necessary to prep yourself properly before attempting the Camel Pose. Find out how to perform it safely in the video below:
How to do Camel Pose
- Start by kneeling while keeping your back and hips straight. Stack your torso over your hips.
- Bring your hands to your sides, so the fingers are pointing towards your back. Allow your hands to rest at the level of the rib cage.
- Start to open the rib cage towards the ceiling and use your hands to support the backbend.
- Maintain this position while releasing your hands and allowing them to reach your heels. If this is not accessible to you, you might use a block.
- Bring your hips forward, keep the front of your body engaged, and your legs active. You can then release the head down and stretch the neck if that's comfortable for you.
Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
Lotus Pose is accessible to most yogis, and it is one of the traditional meditation poses. Among the many benefits it yields, you will find that it opens the hips, stretches the knees and ankles, and allows you to work on your posture. It also offers psychological benefits, including reducing stress and calming the mind. It is an excellent pose if you wish to practice Pranayama.
How to do Lotus Pose
- Sit on the floor with your back straight and your legs extended.
- Start by bending your right knee and bring it to your chest.
- Slowly bring the right ankle to the left hip.
- Bend your other knee and get the foot to your other hip.
- Remain in Lotus Pose for as long as it feels comfortable. Remember to keep your spine straight and rest your hands on your knees.
Why You Should Include Hip Openers in Your Practice
Tight hips are a common frustration for many teenagers and adults. This condition, which might not seem severe for years, can turn into more serious medical conditions over time. Indeed, a large percentage of adults aged 65 and over report having suffered from hip pain in the past months.
However, tight hips can have even immediate serious consequences. Indeed, if your hips are tight, you will experience difficulty in moving freely. Over time, this can translate into issues with your joints, knee, low back, and sacroiliac joints.
Whether you perform other sports or not, tight hips can influence your range of movement. They can shorten your stride and make you much more prone to injuries related to the lower back, hips, and knee joints. Ultimately, the mobility of your whole lower half of the body is affected.
While we are all born with incredibly flexible hips, our lifestyle has a significant influence on our ability to move them freely later on in life. Some of the factors that can affect our hip's mobility include sitting from prolonged time-frames, overworking them, repeated movements, and inadequate stretching training.
What Are Tight Hips?
Tight hips are a symptom of what is going on in the area surrounding your hip flexors. These are a group of muscles located on the top of your thighs. They connect the hip to the top of your leg. These muscles are what make it possible for you to bend forward and move your hips.
Because of our lifestyle, these muscles can become more rigid and shorter, ultimately influencing your hips' ability to move freely.
Some of the muscles that are part of the flexors include:
- Tensor fasciae latae
- Rectus femoris
When these muscles are not moving correctly, you will experience a reduced range of motion in your hips, translating into tightness and injuries.
When looking at the yoga poses that can help you release, stretch, and look after these muscles, it is crucial to practice several different asanas. Indeed, each of them will work towards the mobility of one or more muscles.
Introducing the right hip openers into your yoga practice is crucial. Without exercising and stretching these muscles, more demanding poses will always be out of your reach. However, extending the hip flexors is also essential to help you develop hip mobility. In turn, this can help you reduce the incidence of injuries, pain, and discomfort.
While most adults suffer from this lifestyle-related condition, regularly practising yoga can help you increase your hips' range of motion. You can do so through several asanas, including Child's Pose, Cobbler's Pose, Malasana, Camel Pose, Lotus Pose, and Frog pose.