When the yoga teacher says we’ll be working on our hips for class, I do cartwheels inside. I love hip openers! My hips used to be tight, but after more than a year of practicing yoga, they slowly became more flexible and open. After the great class I took earlier, I got inspired to share with you eight of my favorite yoga poses that open the hips.
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Yep—everyone’s favorite resting pose, the wide-legged child’s pose, can do wonders to the hip area! The added weight of the body helps since it’s naturally pushing down on the hips. (Plus points if the teacher pushes you down at one point as well!)
2. Cobbler Pose/Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Whether seated or lying down (Supta Baddha Konasana), this classic cool-down pose feels so good after an hour of heavy practice, since your body’s warmer and generally a little bit more open. Gently follow it up with a forward fold and ahh.
3. Resting Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)
I read that this was the “King of the Hip Openers.” The pigeon pose gives a stretch so intense, it hurts so good. It’s in the same family as the mermaid pose, which I love, too.
4. Yogic Squat (Malasana)
I just love it when the teacher asks you to step your feet mat-width apart on either side of your hands to go to your squat! This usually happens in the middle of the practice, and it’s most likely the preceding pose before Crow (Bakasana) or other seated sequences. Yum!
5. Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana)
I barely practice this in class, but I find that the Goddess not only opens my hips but strengthens my thighs. The longer you hold, the more challenging. Double workout!
6. Frog Pose (Bhekasana)
I imagine this as the lying-on-your-belly version of the Goddess Pose, which is more restorative, yet packs the same amount of punch to your hips. You can either do it one leg bent at a time or at the same time.
7. Hip Joint Mandala, a Three-Legged Downward Facing Dog Variation (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This is my favorite variation of downward facing dog because besides opening the hips, I like the feeling of the twist on my torso as well. It usually precedes Wild Thing (Camatkarasana) or core plank workouts with your leg lifted.
8. Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
The lizard pose is another strengthening pose for your thighs, but I also love it for stretching my hips. A cool-down option from this pose is where you rest your lifted knee down, and push your bent knee away from you while twisting. So good!
Just writing all of this down makes me want to roll out my mat and stretch away! Besides hip openers, twists and balancing poses make me jump for joy as well. What are your favorite themed yoga classes?