Your hips tie together the spine and the legs, and as a result mobility in this area is key to your overall movement. These five poses will help to open up the body and lead to improved flexibility.
You will want to have at least one block handy, though I recommend having two for extra support.
These poses are pulled from one of my most popular videos, Yin Yoga for a Deep Hip Stretch. Click through if you would like to partake in the full 45 minute practice.
1. Star Pose
Place a block between your heels, with knees bent out at a 90 degree angle creating a diamond. Tilt the pelvis forward as you fold all the way down (on to the block between your feet). Depending on your hip flexibility, you may want to stack an extra block on top of the other to meet and support you where you are. If you are able to come all the way down to the block, work the elbows inside of the feet. The intensity of this pose should only be at about a 4 out of 10, don’t push your body past it’s comfortable edge, but rather let gravity take you deeper as you hold this pose (and the others).
2. Lizard Pose
With hands placed at the front of the mat at shoulder distance apart, step the right foot forward and place it to the outside edge of the right hand. The left leg should be extended back, and your knee down on the mat. Turn your right knee and foot out about 45 degrees. Instead of folding the upper body straight forward, lean towards the left. Coming down onto your forearms and placing the head on the ground near the left edge of the mat, while continuing to push the right leg away from center. You may want to place a block under the head for support. Create as much distance between the right knee and right shoulder as you can. This will be a fairly deep stretch, the most intense of the series. Complete the same pose on the left side, after a quick recovery stretch.
3. Firefly or Straddle Fold
Open your legs wide, with your toes pointing upwards. You may want to sit on a block or put blocks under each knee if your hamstrings are tight. Tilt the pelvis forward, as you hinge at the waist and melt the heart down, letting your head come to rest on a block at the highest level. Don’t push yourself, instead allow time to bring you deeper. Work the block lower as your body eases into the pose, and maybe eventually remove the block to place your head directly on your hands.
4. Double Pigeon or Square Pose
From a comfortable seat, facing the front of your mat, stack the right ankle over the left knee and right knee directly over the left ankle. If there is a gap between your knees and ankles, you can place a block there for added support. Some will stay here, with a tall straight back. If you want to go deeper, walk your palms out in front of you and melt your chest down. Invite your body to open up further over time. In this orientation you will feel it more in the right side, so be sure to even it out by flipping your legs and repeating.
This is maybe my favourite pose. Laying on your back, you will make a banana shape with your body. Lift the hips and shift as far to the left side, while both the shoulders and head as well as feet move to the far right edge of the mat. Once you have created a deep curve with the body, reach your arms up over head, resting them on the mat and maybe grasp the opposite elbows. You may also want to cross your left leg over the right. You should be feeling this stretch in the IT band along left side of the leg, waist, along the left side of the body, and maybe even in to your shoulder. Enjoy as you stay here a while! Soften your body as you open up into the pose, allowing gravity to once again do all of the work. Switch to the other side.
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Finding it hard to know how long to hold these poses on your own, let me to guide you through them. Click on the video below to practice together.
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