Use these hip opener yoga poses to help yourself cool down after a work out, or just to unwind at the end of the day.
Stretching and opening the hips is an important part of maintaining a healthy and flexible body and mind. Tightness in the hips can lead to back pain, shorten the front body causing complications with organs encased in the torso, and can cause tightness in the shoulders and neck. It's especially important to stretch your hips if you engage in activities that tighten the hip flexors such as running, biking, and hiking.
1. Happy Baby
This is a great pose to release both the inner and outer hips and relieve the lower back. Lay on your back and hold on to the outer edges of your feet with your hands. Keep your knees and feet wide and pull your knees toward you arm pits.
2. Agnistambasana (Double Pigeon Pose)
This is a rather strong hip opener, and should not be practiced if there is pain in the knee when it is done. Sit on the floor or on a folded blanket and make a right angle with one of your shins. Stack the other shin on top, making sure to flex both feet. Your feet should be aligned so that the heel of the foot on the floor is directly under the knee of the top leg. Lean forward to intensify the stretch.
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3. Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend)
This is a wonderful pose for releasing the inner thigh and deep hip adductor muscles. Sit on the floor or a folded blanket and spread your legs into a V shape. Keep your toes pointed toward the ceiling and engage your quadricep muscles. Place your hands behind your hips to help keep your chest lifted and if you can take your hands off the floor and keep your chest lifted, walk your hands and chest toward the floor to intensify the stretch.
4. Balasana (Child's Pose)
Not only does this pose gently stretch the outer hips, it also calms the nervous system and releases the entire spine. Come to a kneeling position with your big toes touching and your knees shoulder width apart. Lean your chest over your thighs and let your hands come by your feet with the palms facing up so that your shoulders can rest on your knees. If your heels are very high off your sitting bones, you may want to rest your hands underneath your forehead or place a pillow or soft block under your forehead.
5. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
This is a restorative pose that is a great way to cool down after a stretching session. Place a block underneath the short end of a bolster so it is propped up. Sit on the floor with your sacrum against the lower end of the bolster, and lay back so that your head is higher than your chin. Let your legs rest with the soles of your feet together and your knees away from each other. If you start to feel tension in your groin as you lay in this pose, place blankets or pillows underneath your knees/outer hips to bring support and to avoid bringing tension into the groin muscles.
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