After a long hiatus from creating yoga guides, I am really happy to be back bringing more yoga guides to you on a more consistent basis, just to help you as you embark on your yoga practice, especially if you are starting out on your own home practice.
Today’s yoga guide is all about creating healthy and happy hips, that will go a long way in increasing your range of motion, prevent injuries, and most importantly, relieve any lower back pain or tension that can be a result from long hours of sitting at the desk or computer. While working the hips in the yoga practice is typically associated with hip flexibility and mobility, it is also important to cultivate strength in the hip flexors in order to keep your hips and lower back strong, flexible and properly aligned.
The hip flexor is said to be a major stabiliser of your lower body, and hence, stable and strong hip flexors will help to correct your postural problems and improve your sense of balance.
Here are five yoga asanas for you to incorporate into your daily stretch and flex routine to help cultivate flexibility and strength in your hip flexors:
1. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Entering from either a table top or a downward dog, step your right foot in between your palms, making sure that your right knee and right ankle is in line with one another. Sink your hips down nice and low, reaching the top of your left thigh towards the mat. If you have sensitive knees, feel free to pad a towel underneath your left knee.
Place your palms on top of your right thigh, or reach your arms up over head, allowing your body to sink a little deeper into this stretch. If balance is an issue, set a couple of blocks right beside your hips, and set your palms on top of the blocks for balance. Stay for about 10 slow and deep breaths, and change side.
2. Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
From Low Lunge, wiggle your right foot towards the edge of the mat, and set your palms on the side of your right foot. You can either stay on your palms or come down on to your forearms. If staying on your palms is really challenging at this moment, set a couple of blocks underneath your palms to provide greater support. Continue to sink your hips low and extend the top of your left thigh towards the mat.
Be sure to ground the front foot firmly down on to the mat, your right toes and knees are pointing forward, not splaying out to the sides. Stay for 10 slow and deep breaths, and change side.
3. Seated Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Sit down on the mat with the soles of your feet touching each other. Think about bringing your knees closer towards the ground while leaning forward slightly. If you would like an added stretch, gently press your knees down towards the ground using your hands. You have the option to take forward fold if you want to take this stretch a little deeper. Stay for 10 slow and deep breaths.
4. Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
Coming into standing, step your left foot back and come into Warrior II stance – right foot facing forward and the outer edge of the left foot is parallel towards the back of the mat. Sink your hips down low, making sure that your knee is in a 90 degree angle, and your right knee is in line with your right ankle.
On an exhalation, set your right hand on the big toe side of the right foot. Push your right elbow firmly against the inside of the right knee, while extending your left arm up 45 degrees towards the corner of the ceiling. Keep your left leg engaged by constantly pushing against the outer edge of your left foot. Stay for 5 slow and deep breaths, and change side.
5. Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana)
From Warrior II, step your right foot to meet the left foot, making sure both feet are parallel towards each other. Placing the palms in front of your chest into prayer pose, sink your hips down nice and low on the next exhalation. Turn the tailbone in and hug the ribs into the chest, while making sure that your hips are in line with your knees at all times. Stay there for 10 slow and deep breaths, and take a second set again.