08 July, 2011
Hip Opening Exercises
The more you sit at your desk or in front of your computer, the less flexible your hips become. Hip opening exercises help counteract the sitting you do in your daily life. Greater hip flexibility means less chance of injury and low back pain, as well as greater ease of movement overall. Flexibility comes with time and practice, so perform hip opening exercises several times a week to improve your hip flexibility.
Half-Lotus pose is a gentle hip opener suitable for beginners and as a warm-up exercise for all levels. Sit on a yoga or exercise mat in a comfortable cross-legged position. Gently ease your outer foot up over your knee and into the crook of your thigh at your groin. Keep your spine straight and aligned over your hips as you relax both knees toward the earth. To intensify the stretch, reach your arms overhead and bend forward from the hips until your hands touch the floor in front of you. Hold the pose, switch legs and repeat. To further intensify the pose, if you are an advanced yoga practitioner, assume full lotus - -place your right foot in the crook of your left thigh and hip while your left foot is on your right thigh.
Begin low lunge with your left knee on a yoga mat and the top of your left foot flat on the mat behind you. Walk your right foot out in front of you until your knee is at a right angle and is directly above your ankle. Press forward until you feel the stretch through your left hip. Hold, and then repeat on your other side. To practice high lunge, position your body as you did for low lunge, except stretch your left leg straight behind you and stay on the ball of your left foot as you press forward through your left hip. Hold, and then switch to your other side. To intensify your lunges, bring your arms up to the sky as you press forward through your hips.
Prayer squat is a moderately intensive hip opener. Begin with your feet wider than hip-distance apart. Gently squat down between your legs with your bottom toward, but not touching, the floor. Press your heels toward the floor and, with hands in prayer position in front of your heart, carefully push your upper arms against your inner thighs to ease your hips open. Maintain your posture as upright as possible. Hold the pose for several minutes at a time, and vary the intensity by widening or shortening the distance between your feet.
Frog pose is an intense hip flexibility exercise. Roll up the long side of your exercise mat and position your knees as wide apart as possible on the mat. Angle your shins slightly outward and flex your feet so your ankles are wider apart than your knees. Gently drop your hips toward the earth between your thighs as you lower your upper body toward the earth in front of you, resting on your elbows and forearms. Hold for several moments until your tight hip flexors relax into the pose. Gently ease yourself upright.
- Chris Zainal/Demand Media