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“Hip openers” are a very important group of asanas and pre-asanas for daily or weekly practice. These allow you to develop joint flexibility and improve the ability to rotate your hips internally and externally, also as a benefit you’ll get more success and pleasure from practicing Half-moon pose (Sanskrit Ardha Chandrasana), One-legged pigeon pose (Sanskrit Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) and, of course, Lotus pose (Sanskrit Padmasana).
During my experience teahcing and practicing yoga, I have met people who had a mental closing of their hips and pelvis area as for “protection”. Here are some hip openers that will work on a physical and mental level.
1. Low Lunge Pose (Sanskrit Anjaneyasana)
Before starting an actual hip openers practice, it is a good idea to give your body a warm up. Start with a couple rounds of Sun Salutation (Sanskrit Surya Namaskara) and add Low Lunge pose to your sequence.
While you’re hanging out in your Downward Facing Dog lift one leg up to the ceiling, give your leg a good stretch and place your foot between your palms. Bring your back knee on the floor, untag your toes.
Lift your torso up, and start to move your front knee forward, to add some stretch for your thighs and hamstrings, you can then lift your hands up to the sky or just leave them on your waist. Take a few breaths here.
2. Wide-legged forward bend (Sanskrit Prasarita Padotanasana)
Give yourself a distance of 1.5 m (5-6’) between your feet, firmly press outside of your feet to the mat, lift kneecaps, hug your sacrum with your thumbs, put your elbows backward and slowly start to bend.
Place your palms on the floor and try to move your arms forward, keep the attention on your hips and keep your pelvis aligned with your feet. Hold it for a few breaths.
3. Head to Knee Forward Bend (Sanskrit Janu Sirsasana)
Find yourself in a Dandasana, bend one leg in your knee and open your hip to a side. Lift your arms up and start to rotate your torso towards your straight leg, hold your foot and slowly start to bend. Forehead is trying to reach your knee or even calves. Hold it for a few breaths. Use a strap and a block for this posture, if necessary.
4. Deep hip openers
This one is a really intense hips opener, so please listen to your body and try not to injure yourself. Start on all fours, place your forearms on the floor, keep them parallel to the sides of your mat. Slowly start to increase the distance between your knees by opening your hips. Stop when you will feel any type of discomfort in your joints. Hold this position for a couple of breaths and try again to see if you can open your hips further.
Enjoy your practice and always keep it safe.