Keeping our hips clean and mobile is an important job, yet not a simple task. Hips are the crossroads between the upper body and the lower body, and if they are tight, then you’re at-risk for injuries.
“Tight hips (can) tilt your pelvis, and a tilted pelvis can lead to lower-back problems,” said Dr. Jordan Metzl, author of “Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Running Strong.” “They also mess with your biomechanics and set you up for possible knee injuries. So you have lots of reasons to keep these muscles flexible.”
Tight hips can be a problem for everyone from runners and cyclists to those that spend hour after hour sitting at a desk. The secret to loosening up? The right yoga moves. “Hips are integral to most movements and postures,” said Joanna Ross-Tash, instructor at New York City’s Y7-Studio. “Spending time opening up your low body means freedom in other tight spaces in the body. Yoga helps bring awareness to our inefficiencies and bad habits that formulate of time.”
Check out Ross-Tash’s series of five yoga poses to loosen tight hips. Soon, that nagging pain will be a thing of the past.
Bound Angle Pose
Do it: A. Lie on your back and bring knees to your chest. Butterfly your knees open. Bring the bottoms of the feet together.
B. Draw the feet in close to your groin. Place your thumbs on the inside of the arch of the foot. The elbows lay on their respective shins or thighs. To come forward, imagine the pubis, naval, sternum coming forward as your tailbone points back. Bending the elbows and pressing them onto the thighs encouraging a deeper hip stretch. Stay here for at least 5 breaths.
Ross-Tash recommends sitting up on a blanket, and to view props not as a weakness, but a strength. By sitting the hips higher than your knees, the pelvis can tilt you forward, avoiding excessive rounding in the spine.
2. Prasarita Padottanasana: Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend
Do it: A. Legs stand wide apart. Pigeon toe the big toes in toward one another. Interlace the hands behind the back lift the chest.
B. Hinge forward in the hips, draw the crown of the head toward the ground. You do not need to actually find the ground, concentrate on lengthening the backs of your legs and the torso.
3. Pigeon Pose
Do it: A. Start in a Dandasana — sitting with legs straight out in front. Bend the right knee and butterfly the leg open to the right. Swing the left leg behind you. Keep the right knee outside of the right rib cage. The back leg should be and extension of your left hip. The right shin is roughly parallel to the front of the mat. If this feels impossible, draw the right foot in toward the belly.
B. In order to square the hips to the front of the mat, place weight in the pinky toe side of the back foot. Walk the hands back by the hips and sit up and lengthen the spine. Walk forward with the hands bringing the spine forward and down. If you experience pain in your knee, redistribute the weight into the back leg (pinky toe trick works) place a blanket or two rolled up underneath your hips. Stay for at least 10 breaths.
C. Swing left leg forward and repeat on other side.
4. Malasana: Garland Pose
Do it: A. Stand with your feet separated the width of the mat. The toes pointing out and the heels firmly reach the ground. If they struggle to do so, widen your stance.
B. Bend your knees and squat low. Keeping a lift underneath your seat to avoid hanging all your weight in your joints. Bring hands to a prayer in between the thighs. Press the thighs into the upper arms and the upper arms back into the thighs creating dynamic tension. Lift the chest and shoulders avoid over rounding in the spine.
5. Happy Baby
Do it: A. Lie on your back and draw knees into armpits. Place hands on the outside of the feet make sure the knees are wider than the rib cage and the feet a bit wider than the knees. The tailbone should be resting on the ground (tendency is to lift the tailbone off the ground).
B. Gently rock side to side.