Yoga is a wonderful tool to increase joint flexibility. Factors like sedentary lifestyles, our jobs and even our age can have strong effects on our flexibility and without it, poor postural habits and incorrect movements start to appear in our daily tasks (like going from sitting to standing and lifting). These habits, because of perceived, real or anticipated aches and stiffness can lead to joint immobility.
A regular Yoga practice can have wonderful restorative effects on your joints, muscles, organs and mind. Below are five poses that particularly increase hip flexibility.
So why am I focusing on the hips? Well your hips are situated in the center of your body, and when you can maintain and improve your flexibility in the hips, you improve the relationship with your entire body.
Hip flexibility can also help:
- manage or eliminate lower back pain or knee pain stemming from over compensation.
- find stability in your center, allowing for a more confident and supported movement in walking, sitting, or standing in your daily life and in your yoga practice.
When doing these five poses shown in the pictures and the video tutorial below, remember to pay attention to your body’s limits. Yoga is about the journey you experience within your body, not about how far you can strain and stretch to achieve the perfect pose. If you find it difficult to maintain stability in your hips or that your lower back is arching, sit on a pillow or blanket.
1. Bound angle pose.
If your knees don’t rest easily, use pillows or blocks to support your knees. If your lower back feels compromised or it is arching, sit on a pillow or blanket to raise your hips. Lean forward keeping your chest as open as possible.
2. Knee to ankle pose.
If your top knee is unable to rest on your bottom ankle, place a block or pillow underneath for support. If this feels uncomfortable, just sit in easy pose, shown in the second picture. Again lean forward.
3. Cow face pose.
Stack both knees on top of each other. If folding both legs is too much, allow the bottom leg to stretch out in front of you. Fold forward.
4. Head to knee pose.
Fold one foot into your top thigh with your other leg out in front of you. Hinge from the hips and only go as far as feels comfortable, even if this mean sitting straight up.
5. Wide angle seated forward bend.
Spread your legs as far as you can comfortably, keeping your chest open and your back straight, hinge from the hips and lean forward. Don’t forget to put a support under your sitting bones, if necessary. Always stay within your boundaries, even if this means sitting up straight you will still get great benefit out of this pose. If you experience pain or discomfort behind your knees, place a roll or low pillow under the knees to reduce the strain in your joints.
For more details and examples of the poses, watch the video on the next page.