July 13, 2022

10 Yoga Poses To Stretch Your Hip Muscles

Strengthen your hip muscles with yoga

Half Pigeon Pose in yoga.

A lot of us do a tremendous amount of sitting throughout the day, often because of work. As a result, many of us find that the muscles of our hips become limited in flexibility. When muscles are less flexible, they can cause painful or abnormal movements in other regions of our bodies and impact the way we move.

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Yoga for your hips

Physical therapist and certified yoga instructor Patti Kopasakis, PT, DPT, SCS, RYT-200, has provided poses below to address flexibility in the major muscle groups that surround the hip. These muscle groups assist in preserving your hip joint’s range of motion for activities like walking, standing and climbing stairs, to name a few.

When doing yoga for your hips, be sure to hold each pose for five to eight breaths. On the one-sided poses, make sure you repeat on the opposite side to improve your mobility in both hips.

Note: Poses should be entered into and moved out of slowly to protect muscles and joints. If you’re having specific pain that’s been ongoing for longer than two weeks or you have a specific injury, it’s always best to consult a qualified healthcare provider, such as a physical therapist, who can develop a plan specific to your needs.

Child’s pose

child's pose

This beginner’s pose stretches the muscles of your lower back and inner thighs.

  • Kneel on your knees with your thighs perpendicular to the floor and the tops of your feet facing down.
  • Keep your big toes touching while you widen your hips so they touch the side of your yoga mat.
  • Sit your hips back onto your heels, reaching your arms out in front of you so your forehead comes to rest on the floor.
  • If you’re unable to rest your forehead on the floor, you can rest your forehead on a block to keep your neck straight.

Lizard pose

This intermediate pose stretches your hip rotators, hip flexors (the muscles toward the front of your hip that help you move your legs upward) and quadriceps.

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  • From a standing position, lower yourself to kneel on one knee. Make sure your forward knee is over your ankle, and roll your foot slightly to the outside to open your bent leg.
  • Lean forward and place your hands on the mat to the inside of your foot.
  • For a less intense stretch, keep the forward foot flat on the mat rather than rolling onto the outside edge.
  • For a more intense stretch, lean forward further and place your elbows on the mat.

Reclined half pigeon

This intermediate pose stretches your lower back, gluteal and outer hip muscles.

  • From a sitting position, lie on your back, knees bent.
  • Place the ankle of one leg on the knee of the other.
  • Bring your legs toward your chest and hold your bent leg with your hands.
  • Keep toes of both feet flexed.
  • For a deeper stretch, reach for the bottom leg and pull toward your chest gently.

Hero pose

hero pose

A beginner’s pose, this stretches your hip flexor and quadricep muscles.

  • Kneel on your knees with your thighs perpendicular to the floor and the tops of your feet facing down.
  • Slide your feet apart so they’re slightly wider than your hips.
  • Slowly sit down in between your feet. If this feels too difficult, you can place a block under your tailbone for support.
  • Using your hands, turn the tops of your thighs inward.
  • Rest the backs of your hands on your thighs and hold this position.
  • For a more intense stretch while holding this position, lean back onto your forearms and slowly lower your back to the floor. This is reclining hero pose.

Reclined cobbler’s pose (or reclined bound angle pose)

reclined cobbler's pose

This beginner’s pose stretches your groin and inner thighs.

  • Lie on your back with the soles of your feet together, knees splayed to the outside.
  • For a less intense stretch, slide your feet away from your body.
  • For a more intense stretch, walk your feet closer to your body and place your hands on your inner thighs.
  • To move out of the pose, use your hands to guide your knees together.

Supported bridge

supported bridge pose

A beginner’s backbend, this pose stretches your abdominal muscles, back and quadriceps.

  • Lie on your back with your feet on your ground and your knees shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift your hips up toward the ceiling.
  • Place your hands on your lower back while keeping your elbows grounded.
  • Relax and sink into your hands, holding this position.

Yogi squat

yogi squat

This is a great pose to relax your deep hip rotators and gluteal muscles. However, this can be intense if you have hip pain in the front of your hips.

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  • From a standing position, turn your feet outward at a 45-degree angle so your heels are close to one another.
  • Bring your hands together to pray at your chest, and squat down.
  • Place your elbows between your knees and press into your elbows to lengthen your spine.
  • If you need more support, place a block under your buttocks.
  • For an extra stretch, you can sway side to side, or simply hold still in this position.

Low lunge

low lunge pose

By targeting your hip flexors, this beginner’s pose stretches your abdominal core, hamstrings and inner thighs.

  • From a standing position, lunge forward with your right leg, keeping your knee vertical above your ankle.
  • Extend your left leg back with your knee on the ground and your toes untucked.
  • Slowly lift your chest and rest your hands on your right thigh.
  • Lean your hips forward, keeping your right knee behind your toes, until you feel the stretch in your left hip. Hold this position.
  • For a more intense stretch, raise your arms overhead and overlap your thumbs.
  • Pull your tailbone downward to avoid overarching your lower back.

Cow face pose

cow face pose

This intermediate pose is a deep, hip opener that focuses on your gluteal muscles.

  • Begin on all fours.
  • Cross your right knee in front of your left knee and stack them so your right foot is by your left hip.
  • Widen your feet so you can sit between them. If this is too difficult, you can place a block under your tailbone for support.
  • Raise your right arm above your head and bend your elbow to lower your right hand between your shoulder blades.
  • At the same time, bring your left arm behind your back and your left hand upward to clasp with your right hand. If you can’t touch hands, that’s okay. Try to keep your right elbow pointed toward the ceiling, and your left elbow pointed toward the floor.
  • For a more intense stretch, fold your body forward over your thighs and reach your arms out in front of you, pressing into the floor.

Frog pose

frog pose

This intense position targets your groin muscles, abdominal core, inner thighs and lower back.

  • Begin on all fours.
  • Widen your knees as much as you can without straining so they’re at 90-degree angles. Keep the inside of your calves and feet pressed against the floor.
  • Keep your feet pointed away from your body and bring your forearms down to the floor in front of you (like you would in a plank position).
  • Keep your shoulders directly above your elbows and press your palms into the floor.
  • Lengthen your spine by stretching the crown of your head forward and pushing your tailbone in the opposite direction.

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