You may not realize it, but you rely on your hips for most activities in daily life. Your hips support the weight of your body and make walking, sitting, bending over and climbing steps all possible. Living a sedentary lifestyle causes your hips to tighten and the surrounding muscles to weaken. Mobility in daily life requires strength, health and flexibility in the hips. Maintaining hip health and flexibility is important in every stage of life, but especially as we get older. More than 300,000 people over 65 in the US are hospitalized for hip fractures annually and the number of hip replacements for people 45 and over is increasing every year.
Keep your hips healthy with these hip-opener yoga poses that open your hips while inducing relaxation and relieving stress. This happy hips sequence can be done in the comfort of your own home.
1. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Open your practice with a playful Happy Baby Pose.
Lay on your back and bring your knees into your chest. Spread your knees and try bringing them closer to your torso, flattening the soles of your feet as if on the ceiling. Wrap your hands around the outside of each foot and allow the weight of your arms to increase the stretch. Stay here for 5 to 10 breaths, while lying still or gently rocking from side to side.
2. Fire Log Pose (Agnistambhasana)
After Happy Baby Pose, rock up into Easy Pose or a comfortable seated position. Starting on either side, sit on your bum and lay one shin on top of the other with opposite ankles and knees lined up, if possible. This is Fire Log Pose. Stay here for 5 to 10 breaths, not forcing the pose or the top knee down. To intensify the stretch, gently lean forward, bending at the hips. Repeat on the other side.
3. Low Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Find Downward-Facing Dog and bring your right foot forward, placing it between the hands. Lower your left knee and place your hands on your right knee while lengthening through the crown of the head. Play with gently shifting the hips forward and back to find the proper intensity. Press firmly into the ground with the front foot to sit taller and decrease intensity in the hips. Hold Low Crescent Lunge for five to ten breaths then repeat on the other side.
4. Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
Find Low Crescent Lunge (the previous pose) on either side and place your hands on the mat, inside the foot. Gently turn your foot out at a 45 degree angle and check to see your toes are in line with your fingers. If this is already an intense stretch, stay here. If you want to take full Lizard, lower your elbows onto the floor or blocks with your forearms laying flat and fingers pointing forward. Hold the stretch for five to ten breaths then repeat on the other side.
5. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Take this restorative yoga pose as a hip-opener-style Savasana. Ideally, this pose is supported with props and held for long periods of time to increase fascial release. Sit up in Staff Pose and bring the soles of your feet together, making a diamond with your legs. Hold your feet gently together, palms facing one another and focus on your breathing for up to five minutes. Support this pose by placing a block under each knee or placing a rectangular bolster (or blanket rolled up long ways) under the sit bones.