The hip joint is the largest in the body allowing us to move our legs in almost any direction; flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, internal and external rotation. It is also the attachment point for many muscles including the Iliosoas, Gluteus muscles, Tensor Fascia Lata, Pectinius, Abbductor Magnus, Piriformis and Quadratus Femoris.
I am not somebody blessed with naturally open-hips. I have always hurried through hip opening sections of my yoga class, lowering myself uncomfortable into pigeon pose and low lunges, waiting impatiently for the teacher to move us out of the asana. Since starting my teacher-training course, I have felt restricted by the inflexibility in my hips and I have acquired a newfound commitment to work on flexibility in this area!
I complete at least 5 hip-opening asanas a day and I am starting to feel the benefits of this commitment.
These asanas include;
- AGNISTAMBHASANA This is also called ‘ankle to knee’ or ‘square’ pose. The sanskrit meaning literally translates as ‘fire log’ which is very appropriate given the ‘fire like’ feeling felt in your gluteus muscles during this asana! Sitting upright in Sukasana take the shin bone of your lower leg parallel to the front of the mat and stack the shin bone of your other leg directly on top, making sure it is also parallel to the top of the mat. Then fold forward
- BADHA KONASANA The ‘bound angle pose’ is a seated posture in which the soles and heels of the feet should be touching creating a ‘butterfly’ shape with the legs. To deepen the asana, heels should be drawn close to the groin, with hands wrapped around feet, as you fold forward, drawing yourself towards your feet, extending your spine with the aim of placing the chin to the floor (version A) or forehead to the feet (version B)
- EKA PADA RAJAKAPOTASANA I am practicing a few variations of this pose; in a seated position, one leg is forward with the knee bent the outside of the leg resting on the floor. The back leg is extended behind the hips, stretching back. From this position, I either fold forwards into a ‘resting’ pigeon then, for a more intense stretch, I sit into an ‘upright pigeon’. Following this, I flex my back leg upwards, catching my foot with my hand
- UTTHAN PRISTHASANA Lizard pose begins in a low lunge, with the hands coming down inside the front knee and foot. A deeper stretch requires you to drop your weight down onto your elbows. The back leg is engaged and elevated, lifted parallel to the ground, resting on your toes which are curled under
- VIRABADRASANA 2 In Warrior 2 the hips tend to rotate forwards towards the front leg. Ideally, the body should be in one plain, the hips parallel to the side of the mat. When I perform this asana, I concentrate on rotating my front leg externally and keeping my hips facing sideways. Arms are raised to shoulder height and engaged throughout the pose.