Hip Opening Yoga Stretches
Yoga is a low impact, yet effective way to increase strength and mobility and keep our bodies strong and healthy. We’ve already covered some of the best yoga poses for back pain, but did you know it can also help to loosen tight hips?
Hips are the biggest joints in our body and they’re positioned in an area that sees a lot of movement. Ensuring our hips are strong, healthy, and mobile can reduce lower back pain and anterior pelvic tilt and help to keep us active and functional.
Like anything, if you don't use it, you lose it; when we were really young the flexibility range in our joints allowed us to move easily, but as many of us become less active with age, mobility can start to drop. The good news is mobility can be improved at any age. Dedicating time to stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding our joints and putting joints through their full range of movement will see a big improvement in mobility and flexibility.
Yoga is one of the best ways to work your muscles and joints in a way that improves your mobility.
What are the benefits of yoga hip stretches?
Tight hips are a common ailment in adults, the reason being that they can be caused by excessive sitting or lack of movement. Over time tightness in the hips can lead to pain, loss of mobility, and discomfort when exercising or simply moving around. In turn, this can place more strain on other joints and bones like the spine, leading to issues in other areas of the body. Hip opening exercises are an excellent way of loosening your hips and relieving tightness, which can help improve flexibility and ease soreness in the hips, legs and back. Strengthening the hips can also help to relieve hip pain. Check out our favourite hip strengthening exercises here.
Can yoga help with hip pain and arthritis?
The gentle nature of yoga means it’s an ideal way to stay mobile and flexible if you suffer from arthritis or hip pain, and studies have shown that it’s also proven to help ease and alleviate some of the tightness and pain. You can ease into the poses slowly and carefully challenge the muscles at your own pace, meaning you can enjoy the benefits without putting yourself in any unnecessary discomfort. We’ve discussed how exercise can be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis here and you can learn more about the benefits of stretching for osteoarthritis here.
Is yoga good for hip surgery recovery?
Yoga can help with long term hip surgery recovery as it helps to rebuild strength and flexibility. Before starting any kind of exercise regime after surgery, speak with your doctor as they’ll be able to advise on whether you’re ready to start exercising and what exercises are best for your specific needs.
Once you’ve been given the all clear, it’s best to ease into yoga gently. It could be worth starting with some chair yoga to begin with, before slowly incorporating standing and mat poses.
Can yoga damage your hips?
Yoga is generally good for easing pain and tension, and most of the time is unlikely to cause injury. However, it’s very important to listen to your body and not overdo any of the movements. If anything causes you any discomfort beyond a healthy stretch in your muscles, then you should stop immediately to avoid exacerbating any existing or underlying issues.
Three of the Best Hip Opening Yoga Poses
Here are three yoga stretches that can help build flexibility and mobility in the hips. Performing these poses regularly can really help to keep your hips healthy and strong.
The runner’s lunge targets the hip flexors and strengthens the psoas and iliacus muscles that reduce lower back pain and anterior pelvic tilt.
- Start in a high plank position with your hands below your shoulders
- Step your right leg forward so your foot is to the right of your right hand
- Let your hips sink towards the ground, relaxing through your back
- Hold for 30 seconds before stepping your foot back and repeating with the left leg
If you find this easy, you could try a crescent lunge - this is similar and works the same areas, but you raise both hands towards the ceiling. This is a more intense stretch that also helps to open up the torso, chest and shoulders.
Frog pose is great for opening up the hips, inner thighs, groin area and core, and it has the benefit of being a simple, beginner pose that compliments centre split training.
- Begin in table top pose on all fours, with hands positioned below your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips
- Start to slide your knees out to the sides (you’ll start to see where the ‘frog’ part comes in!) as wide as you can, pressing your hips gently backwards until you feel a stretch through your thighs and groin - you shouldn’t feel any pain
- If you have one, you can place a cushion or yoga block under your tummy to support your body, so you can drop down onto your elbows with your forearms flat on the floor
- As you become more flexible, you can remove the block and press your body lower to the ground
Pigeon pose focuses on opening the hip flexors and glute muscles, especially the piriformis, which is a really hard-to-reach muscle that sits deep down under all the bigger muscles closest to the bone.
- Starting in a forearm plank position, bend and twist your right leg inwards and rest it on the ground so your knee sits in line with your right elbow and your foot is over to the left-hand side of your body
- Drop your neck and shoulders and rest your head on the ground if you can
- You should feel this stretch deep into your hips and glutes
- Hold for around 30 seconds before switching legs
If you’re just getting started on your yoga journey, then you can check out our Yoga for Beginners guide, which gives more ideas about some of the easier poses to start with. If you’d rather have some more guidance, you could book a PureGym yoga class and let one of our expert instructors lead the way.