Maintaining a balance between strength and flexibility in the hips is essential for general movement throughout the day, decreasing your risk of injury, and/or reducing pain. If you are an athlete, avid runner or naturally tight in this area of the body, practicing hip opening poses on a regular basis can be helpful in maintaining healthy mobility. Check out one of my favorite yoga flows to improve your hip mobility!
**Side Note: Complete each posture on one side before repeating on the other side.
Supported Crescent Side Bend
Starting in a tabletop position (hands and knees down), step the right foot forward between the hands. If you have knee pain or sensitivity, place a blanket under the bottom knee. On an inhale, lift the torso up and place the hands on the hips. Engage the glutes to posteriorly tilt the pelvis and stretch the left arm up. On an exhale, side bend to the right by reaching the left arm up and over to the right. Maintain the engagement in the glutes! Hold this posture for 3-5 full, deep breaths.
Quadriceps Stretch (with or without strap)
From the Supported Crescent Side Bend, bring the top arm back to center on an inhale. During the exhale, replace the hands on the hips and begin to bend the back left knee more to bring the back heel towards the glutes. Reach the left hand back to bind with the top of the foot. If you are not able to reach the foot, wrap a strap or towel around the foot and grab that instead of the foot. Again, engage the glutes to posteriorly tilt the pelvis to get an even bigger stretch on the front of the hip. Hold this posture for 3-5 full, deep breaths and then gently release the back foot to return to center.
Take the hands to the hips and straighten the front leg with the toes pointing up and the foot relaxed while continuing to stack the hips over the back knee. On an inhale find length in the spine. On the exhale, begin to tilt the hips forward (anterior tilt) and try to stick your butt out (this is an important and often forgotten step!) While continuing to maintain a straight spine, start to tilt the chest forward to your degree of comfort. The stretch should be felt all along the back of the straight leg. Hold this posture for (you guessed it) 3-5 full, deep breaths and then slowly lift the torso back up.
Put a bend back in the front leg, place both hands to the inside of the right foot, turn the right foot about 60 degrees to the right, and straighten your left leg. Support your torso with the left hand on the ground as you begin to drop the outer portion of the left hip towards the ground. Hold for 3-5 full, deep breaths.
For the final posture of the flow, start to spin to the other long side of your mat to find a big bend in the right knee and the left leg straight with the left toes relaxed upwards. You may need to drastically modify this posture by standing up and lowering just slightly to make it accessible, that’s OK! Please avoid allowing the right heel to lift or diving the right knee towards the big toe side of the leg. Heel stays planted and the knee opens up to the pinky toe side of the leg. Take the hands to prayer at heart center if you can and hold for 3-5 full, deep breaths. Come back into tabletop and begin the flow on the other side! Repeat for a total of two times on each side.