When you sit in a chair all day, nothing feels quite as good as performing a hip opening asana. After performing some yoga poses, you'll feel the hips release right away, providing relief throughout the groins, back, and thighs. In this slideshow, we feature a variety of hip openers, perfect for any level of yoga skill.
One of the easiest poses for hip release is Cobbler's Pose. Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet touching, and ease forward a little at a time. If it feels good to rest on the floor like this practitioner, do it. Always bend at the waist, however. Don't stress the lower back.
Bound Ankle Pose
Another simple posture is Bound Ankle Pose. Draw the legs out to the side as far as is comfortable. Keep the back straight and hold the ankles as you press the legs into the floor.
This modified Pigeon Pose is one of many postures in the Pigeon sequence. Extend one leg behind you and draw the other leg up under you, with the foot and knee slightly outside the body. Inhale and come up on extended arms, pushing the chest forward and lifting the head. You can also perform this posture with the front leg away from the body at a 90-degree angle.
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
People who are more flexible may appreciate this variation of the full King Pigeon Pose. Notice how the front leg is away from the body and the back leg is arched - a terrific posture for releasing both the inner and outer hips. Any Pigeon Pose is a wonderful opener for the chest as well.
This asana stretches the deep hip flexors. Proper breathing is very important, because you're compressing the diaphragm slightly. The natural inclination is to hold your breath. Make sure the stretch happens without additional strain on the lower back.
Another hip opening asana is Bridge Pose. Start on your back with the legs bent and knees apart. Inhale and rock forward onto the tailbone. Exhale and rock back, drawing the belly in. Inhale and lift the pelvis up, tightening the buttocks and rooting the feet. Breathe. Come down by slowly rolling the back from top to tailbone and repeat as often as necessary.
This model has therapy balls, which you can use under your hips as you come down and roll out as you rise up.
Standing Forward Bend
If you work at a desk, get up every 45 minutes to walk around a bit and do this hip opening asana. Inhale deeply, then as you exhale, fold forward at the waist. If you can't touch your head to your shins, rest your hands in front of your legs instead, but relax the neck and keep your head down.
Wide-Legged Standing Bend
This is also a very easy posture to perform anywhere. Extend the legs as wide as is comfortable. Inhale, then fold at the waist on the exhale. Depending on your flexibility, your hands can be shoulder-width apart, as shown, extended in front of you, or at your ankles.
Any postures of the Warrior Pose sequence are excellent for opening the hips and stretching the hamstrings. This modified version is a nice alternative when you really need to release the hips but may not have the energy for the armwork associated with Warrior Poses. Remember to align the knee over the ankle just right, so you can see your toes.
Lord of the Dance Pose
Advanced practitioners who want a greater hip opening asana can use this. It's a terrific posture for improving balance, too. Click on this article to learn more about the history of the Lord of the Dance Pose and how to do it.