Our bodies contain amazing power to absorb impact and strain from every day life. When the body takes in strain and stress, it can decrease balance, circulation, upset the mood, physically show up in aged faces, and finally cause disease. This is where the power of hip openers changes everything.
In order for our bodies to feel and operate at their best, physical stretching and mediation of the mind must occur on a regular basis. Yoga asanas powerfully stretch and open the muscles in a way which releases tension, anxiety and fear from the body. Our physical being actually feels lighter.
Specifically, stress from relationships with those we interact with daily lives deep in our hips – difficult to reach and out of the way. Anything from a fight with a best friend to a disagreement with a co-worker can work its way deep into the hips. Much like an ignored junk drawer, our hips hold a lot of random baggage.
The following asanas are the perfect preventative alternative to not only keep the body healthy and strong, but allows a rinsing and cleansing of emotional stress related to our close personal relationships. Offer your body the chance to purge and reset with the following juicy hip-openers.
Beginner Examples of Hip Openers
Firelog (Agnistambhasana) – Sit comfortably with hips on the earth. Bend your right knee to sit directly in front of your hip, and place the ankle the same distance from the left knee. Stack the left knee on top of the right ankle, and left ankle over right knee. Insure both knees are even with hips, and ankles stacked evenly with knees. If it ever is painful, try another posture. To deepen, lean forward, hands outstretched (or keep hands on hips). Keep the back long and flat, shoulders away from ears.
Benefits: Stretches hips and groin.
Butterfly – (Baddha Konasana) – Sit with sits bones on your mat, legs outstretched. Pull feet into your body, towards your tail bone. Press the soles of your feet together as you drop your knees out to the sides, towards the floor. If your knees are far off the floor, it’s most comfortable to add a block or blanket for support under each knee. Place your hands on your feet, slowly leaning forward with a flat black to deepen the stretch, always moving with your breath.
Benefits: Helps ease anxiety, depression, mild sciatica and menstrual cramps.
Intermediate Hip Openers
Half Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) – From downward dog, bring your right knee toward your right elbow, ankle toward left elbow. With the back left leg stretched out behind you (top of foot flat on mat), lower your hips down toward the earth. Hands can be in front of you on the ground; take your time to walk your hands out in front of you to lower your chest and forehead towards the ground. Stop with the stretch feels right for you. If it is ever too painful, return to modified pigeon for a similar stretch.
Benefits: Stretches thighs, groin, psoas, and relieve sciatica pain.
Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) – Sit with both hips on the ground, evenly and legs outstretched. Bend your left foot and place it next to your right hip, and slowly take the right leg and stack it over the left leg in a mirror. Right knee stacks on top of left knee, both ankles near opposite hips. With both glutes even on the floor, you have the option to lean forward with a flat back to deepen the stretch.
Benefits: Stretches ankles, thighs and hips. Wonderful for an outer hip stretch.
Advanced Hip Openers
King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) – From downward dog, bring your right knee toward your right elbow, ankle toward left elbow. With the back left leg stretched out behind you (top of foot flat on mat), lower your hips down toward the earth. Breathe slowly a few times here. Hands in front of your right leg, supporting you. Shift your hand support towards your hips with intention. Take a moment to feel how comfortable your body is to balance without the help of your hands on the earth. Bend your left leg to lift your foot up, and take both hands around your ankle. At the same time lift your chest, root down evenly in your hips and take your time as your head tips back and your hands offer your foot to the top of your head.
Benefits: Stretches thighs, groin, psoas, abdomen, shoulders, and neck.