What are hip openers, and why does everybody seem to love what yoga does for it? In our daily life, we often do not find time to engage in stretching and flexing, which is extremely important for muscle health and posture. On top of that, we are often forced to retain uncomfortable positions for a long period of time – anybody who has had to spend long hours in an office chair can easily relate. That is where Yoga comes in. Long recognized as an excellent way of working out the body, yoga helps in ‘opening’ up the hip region as well, which means that it enhances the strength and flexibility of the region. With this comes a greater range of movement, better mobility, and more support for the muscles of the back and spine.
So now that you know why hip openers are important, here are some asanas you can incorporate into your routine –
- Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) – A simple asana that can help beginners get started and stretching, this asana gives the hips a gentle workout without putting much pressure on the body to do anything. Try staying in this pose for at least a minute, which you can extend if you wish to. Never force your knees to touch the floor – it may do more harm than good. Instead, listen to your body, and lead with your thigh bones.
- Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose) – Giving both sides of the hips a different kind of workout, this asana challenges both your strength and balance. The upper body gets a good workout too. Holding the pose for a longer duration will certainly have you feeling the burn, but if the pose seems too intense, you can always start by keeping your bottom knee to the ground. Make sure to repeat on the other side.
- Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose) – Yet another asana that challenges both your balance and strength, this pose gives a great stretch to the hips while working out the leg muscles. It also improves your range of motions, opens the chest, and hones your concentration. The higher you lift your leg the more intense will be the stretch you feel. Once again, however, do not force the pose, which will become more refined with time and effort.
- Balasana (Child’s Pose) – Often used as an easy pose to rest and transition between the more intense asanas, this pose is a great way for somebody with a low level of flexibility to work their hip region without putting too much effort or pressure. Stay in the post for anywhere between one to three minutes. This asana is just as gentle on the mind as it is on the body.
- Bhekasana (Frog Pose) – For those looking for something a little bit more advanced and intense, you can progress to this asana. Not only will this pose give your hips a great stretch, but it also helps in building the strength of the upper body and helps in honing your concentration. Be mindful of your knees however and take your time in achieving the pose – rushing is likely to cause discomfort or even injuries.
- Malasana (Garland Pose) – A deceptively easy-looking asana, it packs a great punch, and will definitely have you feeling your thighs in no time. If you are a little tight at the hips, you can begin by turning out your feet. As you progress, point your toes towards the front and try bringing your feet closer together for a more intense stretch.
- Uttraasana (Camel Pose) – This inversion pose will stretch out all your body – your abdomen, back, hips and legs are all in for a great toning session when you practice this asana. Try staying in this pose for at least thirty seconds, and ensure that you invert and come back up gently. Be mindful of your shoulders, as while this asana is a great way to open the whole body, it may be a little difficult to execute with stiff shoulders.
So, be sure to integrate these asanas for your lower body flexibility and strength. Remember however that flexibility is something that needs to be developed. So be mindful of, and listen to, your body, and make sure that you spend time and effort across sessions rather than intensely working on an asana from the get-go. The hips are composed for a number of muscles which will take their time to open up – going too fast can result in discomfort or injury.