If you’re reading this blog you probably have tight hips and are interested in learning how to integrate more hip opener poses into your yoga practice.
We’ll be exploring some of the reasons behind tight hips, why you’ll find so much focus on hip opener stretches and exercises in yoga, and a short practice you can do to open your hips and relieve tension while sitting at your desk.
If you’re looking to jump straight into a yoga hip opener practice, you can practice along with Irene’s YouTube video that covers five simple yoga poses using an office chair. This practice is suitable for all levels, including beginners.
What are some of the reasons we might experience tight hips?
Whether you have a desk job and need to spend a lot of time sitting behind your computer for work, or if you’re active and enjoy walking, cycling or running it’s likely that you’ve experienced tight hips at some point during your life.
The hips are a complex joint that link your upper and lower body. There are many different muscle groups involved in determining the overall mobility of our hips.
When you’re sitting for long periods of time muscles like your hip flexors can get tight after being contracted to support your position. While the repetitive movements of walking, cycling and running can affect not only your hip flexors but also your IT band, glutes, hamstrings, psoas and adductors.
The degree of tightness and restriction in your hips play a role in how often you’re thinking about having tight hips.
If you’ve got a lot of tension in your hips it might be something you’re aware of on a daily basis.
Often the day after a long cycle I can feel tightness in my hips doing everyday activities like walking up the stairs or tying my shoelaces. Luckily this tightness usually goes away by itself after one or two days.
While if there is less hip tightness that you only notice when making movements that require a wide range of movement in the hip. This could be the case if you’re doing some postures that are commonly found in a yoga practice like sitting crossed legged (Sukhasana) or coming into a deep squat (Malasana).
Why do yoga sequences have so many hip openers? And what are the benefits of yoga hip openers?
If you look back historically to the origin of yoga in India there was a large focus on the importance of being able to sit still and meditate for long periods of time. Traditionally a physical yoga practice was designed to help yoga practitioners to be able to sit crossed legged for meditation.
This is one of the reasons why there are so many hip opener postures in yoga. The idea was to use these yoga poses to help create more mobility in the hip joint and allow the practitioner to feel more stable and comfortable when sitting crossed legged.
If you’ve tried at all sitting without moving and meditating for longer than 15 minutes crossed legged on the floor you’ll understand how much easier it can be to do when you’re not in pain.
Life was of course quite different in ancient India to how it is for us today. And one of the notable changes in relation to hip mobility is the fact that most of us spend little time crossed legged, squatting or in other deep hip opener poses.
It was very common historically for yoga practitioners to have a lifestyle that included large parts of their days sitting crossed legged or squatting. While now we’ve replaced this with sitting in chairs. Something that might be more comfortable and practical, but something that also results in us having less opportunity to work on opening our hips.
It’s therefore not surprising that iconic yoga postures like Lotus pose (Padmasana) feel out of reach for many of us.
There are many more benefits to yoga hip openers than simply being able to do advanced hip opener postures and sit for hours in meditation.
Hip openers can also help to balance some of the other activities in our daily lives. Allowing us to be able to work a desk job and go for long walks, run or cycles without feeling imbalanced or in pain.
Learn more about the benefits of chair yoga for office workers.
Which hip opener yoga poses and stretches can I use to reduce the tightness in my hips?
There are many different yoga hip opener poses that you could practice. But which should you do to support releasing tightness and improving mobility in your hips?
If you notice a lot of restriction in one particular area, say your outer hip, you could focus to do one or two outer hip openers each day to see if that helps.
But better still would be to do a variety of hip openers that create balance and movement in the entire hip joint.
The below hip openers YouTube video guides you through a series of yoga poses focused on the outer hip, hip flexors, hamstrings, IT band and inner thighs (adductors). Allow your body to relax into the poses, focusing on releasing tightness with every exhale.
Good luck and happy practicing!
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