Your hips are the source of most of your ability to move around in the world. These joints are comprised of many different muscle and bone structures, including the glutes, the inner thighs, the sacrum/tailbone, the pelvic floor, and the whole pelvic structure.
Stretch Like a Warrior
A common cause of tight hips is sitting too much. After a long day at a desk, take a moment to practice Warrior 1, which stretches the hip flexors.
From standing, step your right foot back in a long walking stride. Feet should be hips distance apart width-wise, and your back foot should be turned out at a 45 degree angle with the sole of the foot down. With both legs straight, press your back heel into the ground and engage your glute. Tuck your tailbone down. Then bend into the front knee until you feel a good stretch at the front of your right thigh. If you like, reach your arms up as well. Stay for five deep breaths, then switch sides.
After a bike ride, a hike, or a run, stretch your hamstrings and IT band area.
From standing, cross your right leg in front of your left in a narrow X shape. The cross of the X could be at the ankles or the shins. Feel free to experiment with what feels right for you. Bend the knees a bit, stick your butt out behind you, and gently fold forward until you feel a good stretch at the backs and the outsides of the legs. Put your hands on a chair or blocks if the floor is quite far away. Play with straightening one or both legs until you feel a good stretch. Stay for five deep breaths, then carefully stand back up and switch sides. Note: If there is any sensation or pain around the knee, bend the knee more or come right out of the stretch.
Let It Go
The hips commonly house trauma. Sometimes tight hips are trying to protect us from feelings around a traumatic experience. When our hips freeze up, they are preventing us from accessing the movement in our bodies that could release hidden emotions. When they are in pain, sometimes emotion is trying to get our attention through the body instead of through the mind.
Opening the hips through dance or yoga can trigger an emotional release like tears, laughter, or anger. If this happens, simply allow the release. You don’t need to fight it or even know what it is about. Simply breathe through the sensations and the emotions.
The hips are the physical manifestation of the sacral chakra, located in the center of the pelvis, in line with the sacrum. This is the energy center that is associated with emotion, sexuality and sensuality, creativity, and intimate relationships.
Pose Like a Pigeon
Pigeon pose is one of the most popular hip openers. It’s more common than you would think for students to cry while in this pose!
To do pigeon pose, rest on hands and knees. Bring your right knee up to your right hand, resting the shin on the floor. Point the toes at a 45 degree angle (more or less). Extend the left leg back behind you and rest your right hip (or both hips) on a cushion or block. Gently fold forward over your legs. Stay for 10 deep breaths, then switch sides.
Be aware of any knee pain—check with a health practitioner to make sure you are doing the pose safely.
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