5 of the best yoga poses for tight hips
Modern life is great for a lot of things, but our hips aren’t one of ’em! A lot of sitting and a lack of functional movement has left our hips tight and weak – which is why we all need to do yoga!
Hip-opening yoga poses have become an essential part of my strength training routine, helping me to recover, grow stronger and maintain mobility and flexibility. But it’s not just about being able to hinge at the hips for a killer deadlift.
Sitting smack bang in the middle of our bodies, our hips provide a solid base of support for our torso and arms, and drive movement from our legs.
Looking for the best yoga stretches for your hips? Start your free trial on Emily Skye FIT to find dedicated Yoga for Recovery sessions.
When our hips are sore, tight or weak we don’t move well. The main culprit (thanks to our sedentary lifestyles) is often the hip flexors, a group of muscles that run from your hips through the top of your thighs. For hip flexor stretches, yoga is definitely my go-to! Regularly performing a range of yoga hip stretches will release these pain points, freeing you up to move easily and reducing your risk of injury.
Let’s take a look at how doing yoga can help tight hips, and get you moving better with some of my favourite poses for your hip flexors and beyond.
Why is yoga so good for tight hips?
If you’ve got tension in your hip flexors, stepping onto the mat won’t just relieve pain now, it will strengthen all the supporting muscles around your hips to keep you moving well into the future. There are 3 big benefits of yoga for your hips.
1. Muscle flexibility and joint mobility: Yoga allows your body to move more smoothly by lengthening tight muscles and opening up a full range of motion. And when you’re more mobile and flexible, your form and performance in other forms of training is even better, allowing you to get stronger all round.
2. Hip strength: Yoga doesn’t just stretch the muscles around your hips, it strengthens them. Doing regular yoga for hip flexibility will also work your glutes, hamstrings and inner thighs, building strength through the entire network of muscles that support your hips.
3. Supports recovery: There’s a reason my strength workouts on FIT are backed up by weekly Yoga for Recovery sessions – they’re the perfect training partners! After a tough workout, gently activating your big muscle groups with yoga promotes circulation, stimulates the hormones that repair and grow muscles, and helps you to feel refreshed and ready to go again tomorrow.
5 amazing yoga poses for tight hips
Teacher Michelle Cassidy’s Yoga for Recovery sessions are an essential part of my strength training routine on FIT. These moves are taken from a class filled with yoga poses for hips and hamstrings, designed to release any tightness and get you back to moving at your best.
1. Low lunge
This pose is not only great if you go hard at the gym, but also if you sit all day. It releases and elongates the hip flexors, which can shorten when you spend a lot of time in a chair (which is why they feel tight when you get up and move).
How to do a low lunge:
Step your left foot back and lower your knee onto the floor.
Push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your hip flexor.
To increase the stretch, really tuck in your butt as you push your hips forward.
Place your hands or forearms on the ground in front of you and hold the pose for 5-10 deep breaths.
When you’re done on the left, repeat the stretch on the other side by stepping back with your right foot.
Don’t worry if your balance gets a little wobbly, that’s totally normal. Reset so your legs are strong and stable. I find it easier if I angle my front foot outward.
2. Three-legged downward dog with hip opener
This twist on the classic downward dog will lengthen your hip flexors while encouraging stability and strength throughout the whole hip area.
How to do a three-legged downward dog with hip opener:
Begin on hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-width apart and fingers spread wide for a good grip on the mat.
Breathe in, then as you breathe out, visualise pressing the mat away with your hands, lift your hips high and straighten your legs as far as you can.
Once you’re in the downward-facing dog position, lift your left leg up behind you, keeping your hips as square as possible.
Bend at the left knee, bringing your left heel towards your butt.
Hold this position for at least three deep breaths.
After lowering your left leg, switch and repeat on the other side.
3. Low squat
The low squat is a classic yoga adductor stretch. As well as targeting your inner thighs, it will open up your hips, lower back, groin, knees and ankles – all of which will impact your hip mobility if they’re not functioning at their best.
How to do a low squat:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your feet angling out.
Bring your hands together in front of the chest, then drop your butt toward the floor, slotting your elbows just inside your knees.
Keeping your chest and head up, push your elbows out against your legs to increase the stretch.
Hold the pose for around 30 seconds, breathing steadily in and out.
Don’t worry if you can’t get very low to start with – as tightness around your hips eases and you grow stronger, you’ll be able to drop further into the squat.
4. Pigeon pose
As well as yoga for hips and hamstrings, you can’t forget your glutes! Why are glutes important to hip health? When your glutes are weak or tight, your hips will overcompensate. Pigeon pose will relax angry glutes and hips so both can be stronger.
How to do pigeon pose:
Start in a low lunge position, place your hands on the floor in front of your body, then slide your front foot over to the opposite hand.
Keep your hips square and your front shin facing forward as best you can while lowering your hips towards and ground and extending your back leg.
From this position, bend forward at the hips and down onto your forearms.
Hold the pose for 5-10 deep breaths, leaning further forward with each exhale.
Switch to stretch the other side.
5. Standing figure four pose
This is one of the best glute stretches yoga has to offer! The pose targets your glutes and outer hips, opening and strengthening both at the same time. It will also test your balance, so take it slow and steady.
How to do standing figure four pose:
Standing with feet hip-width apart, bend your knees until you’re in a half squat position.
Bring your hands to your hips for balance, engage your core and put your weight into your right foot.
Lift your left foot up and place your left ankle just above your right knee.
When you feel balanced, lift your head up to look forward and bring your hands together in front of your chest.
Lower your right knee further to increase the stretch. Flexing the toes on your lifted foot (like Michelle is doing in the picture above) will also deepen the stretch.
Hold this position for 5-10 deep breaths, then switch and repeat on the other side.
Want more yoga poses to stretch your hips and build strength and stability? Start your free trial with FIT today.
Personal trainer • Founder
Emily Skye is a strength training expert and the face of FIT, the digital fitness app that helps women worldwide build strength and confidence, stay active through pregnancy and rebuild post-pregnancy. Emily holds a Certificate IV in Fitness and Master Trainer qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness. She is also co-founder of James Cosmetics and a mother of two.
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