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Seated hip opening poses, part 1

cradle
Seated cradle

Tightness in the hips is one of the most common problems students face in a yoga class when they try to do any of the yoga poses involving hip flexibility or hip rotation. This tightness usually is a result of long hours of sitting either in an office chair or in a car if you have a long commute to work. The situation gets further aggravated if you happen to maintain a poor posture while you are sitting. Poor hip flexibility can usually result in low back pain or poor support for the knees.

In the accompanying video, I have presented a few simple seated hip opening movements. In future articles, I will be presenting more hip opening poses from the standing, seated and reclining poses.

Seated hip rotation and half butterfly

hiprotation
Seated hip rotation

Step-by-step

  1. Sit down with the legs stretched out in front, keeping the spine tall and straight.
  2. Bend the right knee and place the top of the right foot on top of the left thigh. Slide the heel as far back as comfortable.
  3. Thread the fingers of the left hand through the toes to stretch the toes.
  4. butterfly
    Seated half butterfly

  5. Lightly hold the right knee with the right hand. To create a smooth hip rotation, start by pushing the knee forward, push it down, pull it all the way back and lift it up to bring it up all the way in front again. Repeat this movement 4-5 times.
  6. Now switch the direction of hip rotation. Lift the knee up, pull it all the way back, push it down and bring it all the way in front. Repeat this rotation 4-5 times.
  7. Pause briefly and begin the half butterfly move by rhythmically moving the right knee up and down. With every move, make a gentle effort to bring the knee close to the floor. Repeat this move 6-8 times.
  8. Now switch the position of the feet by stretching the right leg straight out in front and placing the left foot on top of the right thigh.
  9. Repeat the same rotational movements and the half butterfly, as above, with the left hip.
  10. Stretch both legs in front and relax for a few moments.

Cradle move

cradle
Seated cradle

Step-by-step

  1. Sit down with the legs stretched out in front, keeping the spine tall and straight.
  2. Bend the right knee and position the sole of the right foot on the inside of the left elbow.
  3. Wrap the right arm around the right knee and the left arm around the raised foot and hold the two hands together. Make an effort to lift the leg higher and as close to the chest as comfortable.
  4. Keeping the spine still comfortably tall, create a gentle rocking move side to side. This gives a nice, gentle movement and rotation to the hip joints. Repeat the cradle move 6-8 times, then release the leg down.
  5. Switch sides by positioning the sole of the left foot on the inside of the right elbow and repeat the above movement 6-8 times.
  6. Finally release the leg down, stretch the legs in front and relax for a moment.

Seated happy baby

happybaby
Seated happy baby

Step-by-step

  1. Sit down with the legs stretched out in front, keeping the spine tall and straight.
  2. Bend the right knee and place both the hands under the foot to lift the foot up.
  3. Try to bring the foot up higher and close to the forehead, if comfortable. For those who have very flexible hips, knees and thighs can try to wrap the leg behind the neck. Otherwise try to touch the toes to the forehead or place the foot on top of the head. Make sure not to overdo this pose as it can become quite intense for the hips as well as the spine.
  4. After holding the final position for 3-4 breaths, release the leg down and stretch it out. Now, repeat the above moves by bending the left knee and lifting the foot up.
  5. Finally release the leg down and sit down in any comfortable cross-legged position and relax for a few breaths.

Contraindications and precautions

Avoid these stretches if you have had a recent spine or hip injury or have severe hip or back pain. Be careful not to overdo any of the stretches. In case of mild pain, please consult with your yoga instructor and modify the stretches, as appropriate.

Benefits

These hip opening stretches will help you make the hips, knees, thighs and the spine more flexible and reduce muscle tightness. It will improve blood circulation in these areas. In general, you will feel a better sense of overall well-being.

1 comment to Seated hip opening poses, part 1

  • Will hip rotation kriya improve psoas muscles. I have paresthesia since last 12 years. It may be because of peripheral neuropathy or low arterial blood flow. I am doing knee rotation work out. Now I will do hip rotation. I do many types of work out at different time. I also do isometric exercises as well. I take Gaba pentine for neurological pain. I think you for this hip rotation exercises.

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