5 Hip Openers That Release Tension

There’s a common saying in yoga, “we carry our issues in our tissues.” And those issues usually manifest as tightness in the hips and shoulders.

You’ve probably noticed that when you feel overwhelmed or stressed, your body is more constricted, similar to your mind. Emotional stress does manifest in the body, and you can release it through regular meditation.

Yoga poses can compliment your meditation practice and help support releasing tension in the body. Practice these five hip openers prior to your meditation for some relief.

Supta Baddhakonasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
 

Supta BaddhakonasanaLie down on your back with the soles of your feet together and your knees wide apart and then lengthen your inner thighs. Slide a pillow or block under each knee for support. Allow your legs to rest on the blocks or pillows.

Extend your arms into a T-shape or overhead. Make sure the back of your head is resting on the mat and you can find some comfort in this pose. Stay for about three minutes, breathing deeply. Notice if you’re holding onto any tension, especially around the hips or buttocks and allow yourself to surrender into this posture.

Parsva Balasana  (Thread the Needle Pose)
 

woman doing yogaSlowly draw the knees in towards your chest and rock side to side. Cross your right ankle above your left knee. Place your left foot flat onto the floor and release your arms down by your side. Notice the sensation in your right outer hip. Stay here or hug your left knee in towards your chest and interlace your fingers behind your left thigh.

If your head starts to lift off the mat, release the left leg and keep the left foot on the floor. Start to arch the lower back a bit to feel more sensation in the outer right hip. Stay for about 10 to 15 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)
 

woman doing yogaFrom Parsva Balasana, unravel both legs and take your knees toward the outside of your ribcage. Notice if your lower back is lifting off the mat. Keep your sacrum—the large, triangular bone at the base of the spine—on the mat as you lengthen your adductors (the inner thigh muscles). If you’re comfortable, grasp the outside of both feet with your hands and gently pull down onto your feet to deepen the sensation of the inner thighs. Stay for about 10 to 20 breaths.
 

Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Twist)
 

woman doing yogaCome to a seated position on your mat with both legs extended in front of you. Make sure your weight is forward on your sit bones rather than towards your tailbone. If not, place a towel, block, or bolster underneath your butt.

Hug your right knee in towards your chest and cross it over your left leg. Notice if you’re rounding your lower back. Keep lengthening your spine.

Keep the left leg extended, or you can bend the left leg and place it underneath the right. Make sure both sit bones are still on the mat. If not, keep the left leg extended.

On your inhale, reach your left arm up towards the sky, extending through your waist. Exhale and wrap your left arm around your right knee as you place your right fingertips down behind your sacrum. Use your core strength to maintain stability in the pelvis rather than leaning onto your right hand. Try to stay on your fingertips and keep less weight there. With each inhale, have the intention to lengthen your spine, and with each exhale, have the intention to deepen the twist. Keep your chin right on top of your sternum to avoid overextending the cervical spine. Stay for about five deep cycles of breath and repeat on the other side.

Upavista Konasana (Seated with Legs Extended)
 

woman doing yogaFrom Ardha Matsyendrasana, unravel your legs and extend them out into a V-shape, or wider, if comfortable. Be mindful if you feel any sensation around the knees. If so, bring the legs in closer towards each other. You don’t want to feel any strain around the knees.

Shift your body weight right on top of your sit bones. If your lower back is rounding, place a block or towel underneath you. Tilt your pelvis slightly forward and lengthen your spine. If you’re sitting on a block or towel, stay there with your spine upright. If you are sitting right on the mat and need some more sensation in your inner thighs, walk your hands forward and move into a forward fold. Take your time when deepening into a posture. Move with your breath and allow your muscles to relax. Stay for about 10 to 20 breaths.

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About the Author

Danielle Mika Nagel

Vedic Educator
Danielle Mika Nagel is an international Vinyasa Yoga and Meditation Teacher based in Vancouver, BC. She is registered with Yoga Alliance as E-RYT 500 and completed her initial Teacher Training under the guidance of certified teachers in the styles of Ashtanga, Anusara, and Iyengar. Danielle completed additional teacher trainings in Primordial Sound Meditation, Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, and Perfect Health: Ayurvedic Lifestyle at the Chopra Center and a 500-hour certification with the American Yoga Academy. In her classes, she integrates breath, movement, and yogic philosophy to bring a sense of awareness to the practice both on and off the mat. Danielle is passionate...Read more