How Do You Open Up Your Hips?

Do you often find tightness in your hamstring and glute muscles? Do you find it difficult to do lotus pose or split your legs apart?
I am one of the inflexible yoga students who find lotus pose being one of the most challenging poses in the whole of Ashatanga primary sequence.

Why we need to do hip-opening exercise?
Apart from yoga poses, most of our daily tasks involves the usage of our hip joints. When hips are tight, it will increase the load and cause overuse of the spine and this is why tight hips are often correlated with back pain.
Tight hips affect everything from performing your usual daily task to hindering your ability to get into intermediate yoga poses. Of course, we should not treat the yoga asana as ends but a mean to other parts of our lives.

Which group of people is vulnerable to tight hips?
One category of people at a higher risk of developing tight hip flexor muscles is those who sit for long periods of time or actively engage in exercises that repeatedly pull their knees towards the torso (e,g: runner).
Understanding about hip joint:
Hips are ball and socket joints, which are the most mobile joints in your body. The head of each thigh bone (femur bone) forms the “ball’, which sits in the socket (acetabulum) of your pelvis. Ball and socket joints are required in circumduction, which means moving in all three planes, like when you swing your leg in a circle.

Our hip joint consist of more than 20 muscles.
Hip joint has 6 movement: flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, external and internal rotation. When we try to open up our hips, remember to practice all 6 movements rather than focusing only on one or two.

How to use yoga poses to open your hip joint while balancing in all 6 directions?
1. Flexion: Flexion at the hip joint means pulling your thigh up to your chest
Asanas: Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1)

2. Extension: Extension is taking the leg back.
Asanas: Yoga poses that extend the hip joint will create an opening and stretch the front of the hips in the sagittal plane. Most poses including lunges and backbends, and would help with hip extension. e.g: Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1), Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
3. Abduction: Abduction refers to the movement of the coronal plane at the hip by taking the legs apart
Asanas: Prasarita Padottanasnana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)

4. Adduction: Bringing your legs together with movement involving coronal plane is called adduction.
Asanas: Sirsasana (Head Stand),Garudasan (Eagle Poses)

5. External rotation: External rotation happens when we try to turn our thighs out in the transverse plane.

Asanas: Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle) front leg,

6. Internal rotation: Internal rotation happens when we try to turn in our thigh in the transverse plane.
Asanas:Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose); Virasana (Hero Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose)