When I’m anxious, I feel like my whole body is closing: my chest tightens, my breath becomes more shallow, and I find myself hunching over my coffee, my computer, or just myself. Last week, minor trouble upon minor trouble kept me feeling anxious and worn down. I was tired, but I couldn’t sleep. Nothing was really wrong, but I was constantly fretting.
I was able to find a bit of respite in yoga, however. I’m not sure if opening your hips is traditionally associated with relaxation, but it can certainly help me feel better. (Maybe this is because I tend to sit with my legs crossed at the knees and ankles–yikes!) I also like this series because there’s a lot of upside down and downward dog, both of with I find relaxing as well.
Find a little peace in the following hip opening yoga poses. If the weather is nice, why not take your practice outside? Remember to repeat on both sides and take deep breaths 🙂
Downward Facing Dog with Hip Opener
Come into downward dog. Gently sway your hips from side to side for a few breaths to warm up. Lift one leg into the air and bend your foot so that it points diagonally across your back as shown in the photo. Hold for five full breaths. Focus on opening your hips (they will not be parallel).
From the previous position, carefully and slowly “flip your dog.” Begin by lifting the arm on the side of your lifted foot. Turn your torso to the sky while keeping your grounded foot grounded. Not only does the pose help open the front of your hips, it’s also a great heart opener. Even though a lot of strength and balance must go into this pose, it still feels like one of utter surrender. Hold for five deep breaths then return to downward dog and continue through a vinyasa.
Leg Lifts for More Open Hips
From downward dog, lift your leg so it’s parallel to the ground and perpendicular to your waist. Touch your foot down to the ground then return to its former position with control. Repeat five times, repeat on the other side, then continue through a vinyasa. This pose should help you feel your inner hips opening and strengthing. Also, it’s not shabby for your abs, either.
Side Angle Pose
From downward dog, lift your foot into the air and slowly bring your lifted foot to rest between your hands. Place your arm (same side as your bent leg) on the inside of your bent leg. Turn your back foot to face away from you. Lift your opposite arm to the sky as you twist your chest open to the ceiling. Hold for five breaths.
Hip Opener with Gentle Split (Lizard pose)
From the previous position, return your lifted arm to the ground while gently stretching your back leg behind you so your knee rests on the ground. While keeping your front knee facing forward, come down on your elbows as pictured above. You will feel an opening in your hips and buttocks (as well as your quad on the opposite leg). Hold for five breaths. Return your front leg to the back and continue through a vinyasa.
Squat with Shoulder Stretch
I debated including this photo because my back looks funky and my hair is trailing on the porch, but I included it because the pose is a must! Begin with your feet wide apart, toes turned out. With a soft bend in your knees, bend at the torso, reaching towards the ground. For an added shoulder stretch, clasp hands behind your back and allow gravity to pull them towards the ground as pictured above. To stretch your hamstrings after you’ve stretched your hip, straighten your legs. Hold each variation of the pose for five breaths.
More yoga tutorials: 5 Poses to Build Core Strength