5 Top Hip Openers for Tension Relief!

Are your tight hips trying to tell you something? Throughout the body, stress, tension and emotion can mount and one of the areas it can build up in is in your hips. Our hips can be a storage ground for emotions such as fear, guilt and stress which is why you may feel emotional after attending a yoga class featuring a lot of hip openers. Releasing this pent up emotional tension is extremely healing for the body and the mind. Read on for our 5 Top Hip Openers for Tension Relief!

Note: Please be aware that habitual sitting in chairs and spending too much time with our hips resting in a closed position can cause your hips to tighten. Tight hips can cause a myriad of issues within your body affecting everything from your ability simply to pick something up off the floor, to back pain and limiting your range of movement.

In Yoga there are many asanas (poses) that work on opening and releasing the muscles of your hips while at the same time building up your body’s mobility.

1. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

You will often see babies taking hold of their feet like in this pose and they are on to a good thing. Happy baby pose gently stretches the inner groin area and relieves the lower back. Being a gentle pose you can hold this for a few minutes which will allow you to access the deeper layers of the body and connective tissue.

Getting into the pose:

  • Lay on your back and bring your knees in towards your chest.
  • Take hold of the outside of your feet and open your knees wider.
  • Keep your feet active and flexed in the pose. Push your feet into your hands at the same time as pulling down on your feet with your hands, creating resistance.

2. Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

This pose works the whole body and is a very strengthening pose to hold. The Crescent Lunge stretches the hip flexors, groin and legs whilst also opening the shoulders and chest allowing your breath to flow freely through the body.

Getting into the pose:

  • Begin in downward facing dog pose. On your exhalation, step the right foot between your hands.
  • Keeping your front knee bent, come up onto the ball of your back foot. Check that your knee is aligned over your ankle.
  • Inhale and sweep your arms up over your head. If this feels too strong for your back leg, lower your back knee onto the floor and come into a low lunge.
  • Keep your extended leg strong and square your hips to the front edge of your mat.

3. Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)

This is one of my favourite Yoga poses. The pigeon pose stretches the psoas muscle, which is the only muscle to attach the torso to the legs and gets significantly shortened by sitting for extended periods of time. Working deep into the hip muscles, the pigeon pose is great for releasing built up emotional tension and creating space in our hips.

Getting into the pose:

  • Begin in downward facing dog pose. Exhale and bring your right knee towards your chin.
  • Lower your knee towards the right side of the mat and take your foot towards the left side of the mat, keeping your knee and foot in line with each other.
  • Lengthen your back leg down to the floor and square your hips to the top of your mat.
  • Inhale and open the shoulders and chest, then exhale and fold over your bent leg, resting your forehead on a block with your hands or the floor. If you feel any pain in your knee, keep your body upright. You can also place a folded blanket under the hip of your bent leg.

4. Frog Pose (Mandukasana)

Although a relatively easy posture to come in to, the frog pose is an intense hip opener. The Frog pose stretches the inner thighs, groin and hip muscles and therapeutically can help relieve stress.

Getting into the pose:

  • Start in a table top position with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  • Take the knees out wide keeping your ankles in line with them and your feet turned outwards.
  • Lower yourself onto your forearms with palms facing down. Hold this pose for as long as you can for greater benefit.

5. Garland Pose (Malasana)

Another one of my favourite hip openers, the garland pose can do wonders for your posture. This pose lengthens your spine, stimulates the digestive system as well as improving your hip mobility.

This Yoga squat has a calming and soothing effect on the nervous system and brings about stillness of the mind.

Getting into the pose:

  • Begin in downward facing dog pose. Walk your hands back, half way, towards your feet.
  • With hands still placed on the floor, bend the knees and turn the feet out, coming into a squat. Make sure the knees are facing the same direction as the feet.
  • Bring your hands into prayer position in the centre of your chest and place your elbows on the insides of your knees.
  • Use your elbows to push against your knees, opening the hips, and sending your weight into your heels. Hold this pose for a few minutes.

As you’ll probably gather the benefits of hip openers are vast and can be far reaching, which is why you will usually be finding yourself practicing a few of these during a Yoga class. By introducing a few hip openers into your fitness schedule you’ll very soon start noticing the positive impact and salutary effects they have on your body and mind.

Kayleigh Alwill

Kayleigh is a certified Yoga teacher, long time Yoga practitioner, group fitness instructor and all round health and wellness enthusiast. Since completing her Yoga training in India, Kayleigh has developed a strong interest in Ayurveda and alternative medicine. She works with local mental health charities teaching meditation techniques and runs regular Yoga classes and workshops. You can find out more about her Yoga classes and workshops here: www.gajayoga.co.uk

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