You've probably heard that we carry our stress in our hips. Part of the reason for this is that the hip joint is the largest joint in the body, and it is responsible for moving our largest appendages—our legs. Then there are the important muscles such as the iliotibial bands and the psoas muscles that attach or wrap around the hip area and contribute to feeling tight and constricted in this area of the body.
These factors, combined with the fact that our jobs and lifestyles have us seated for the good portion of the day, are why our stress settles in the hips. If your hips need a big stretch and a lot of love, give the following sequence a try a few times per week. Even better, do it every day—it's low-impact enough for that!
1. Crescent lunge.
From hands and knees or downward-facing dog position, step your right foot between the hands, and bring the left knee and top of the left foot to rest on the mat. Bring your arms overhead, lifting and straightening your torso. Pull your lower abdominals in to protect your lower back and focus the stretch along the front of the hips. Take three to five breaths, bringing your hands down, and return to downward-facing dog or hands and knees. Repeat this with the left leg forward.
2. Lizard pose.
From a hands-and-knees or downward-facing dog position, step your right foot between the hands, with the left knee and top of the left foot resting on the mat. Walk the right foot to the right, all the way to the outer edge of the mat, and have both arms inside the leg. You can keep both hands on the mat and the arms straight. Reach your chest forward and up, and let your hips sink down to the mat. Hold this pose for 10 breaths and repeat on the left side.
Standing on the mat, step your feet mat-width apart and forward fold, bringing your hands to the mat. Lift your heels off the mat and bend the knees deeply bringing your butt down toward your heels. Your heels may stay lifted, but try to bring your feet flat to the mat if possible. Turn the toes slightly out so they point in the same direction as the knees. Press your elbows into the inner knees and bring your palms together, pressing the knees open. Try to straighten your spine and lift your chest. Stay here for 5 to 10 breaths.
4. Ankle to knee.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the mat. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh, close to the knee. Interlace your fingers around the back of the left thigh and bring the left leg to your chest, flexing both feet. Relax your shoulders and feel your tailbone moving down toward the mat. Stay here for 8 to 10 breaths and repeat on the left side.
5. Reclined bound angle pose.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the mat. Bring the soles of your feet together and knees opened out to the side. Bring your right hand on to your belly and your left hand over your heart. You can stay here for at least 30 seconds and up to 5 minutes.
Want more ideas for opening up your hips? Here's an idea.
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