In yoga, there is a wide variety of hip opening postures. This is probably due to the notion that many people have some type of hip issues: pain, discomfort, lack of strength, or mobility.
Functional and recreational activities that you enjoy become difficult to perform: walking, climbing the stairs, rising from a chair, jogging, dancing. Yoga postures, especially hip openers, are designed to release tension, which often causes mental and physical distractions.
In practices like meditation, where sitting is often required, having hip inflexibility and pain will deter you from the mind-quieting practice.
One of the main intentions of yoga is to be able to sit comfortably so you can meditate mindfully without distraction. Practicing yoga postures and flowing from pose to pose, loosens up tight areas of the body so you can perform more functional tasks like sitting. One of the translations of the word "asana" means "to sit." We also know the word to mean "pose," so while practicing yoga, you are "sitting" or being present in each posture. If you need hip release so you can reduce or even eliminate discomfort or pain, you may want to try these two yoga postures: Eye of the Needle Pose and Happy Baby Pose.
Eye of the Needle Pose (Sucirandhrasana)
This is a wonderful yoga posture if you have tight hips and muscle tension in your glutes, too. It is accessible to any level of yoga practitioner, so if you want to improve your hip mobility, try this posture. Sometimes it is referred to as Reclining Pigeon Pose (Supta Kapotasana). It is an alternative to the hip opening posture Pigeon Pose, which can potentially cause stress to one's knee and ankle joints.
Start the Eye of the Needle Pose by lying on your back. Bend your knees with your feet planted on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh. Your right knee will point toward the right side of the room. Flex this foot; it keeps the leg and hip stable as you move into this posture. Pause to notice if this is creating a sensation in your outer right hip. If so, you are welcome to hold this posture allowing the tension in the hip area to release. If the sensation is mild, you can move deeper into the position.
While flexing your left foot, slowly lift it off the floor. This will guide your crossed leg toward your torso. Continue to observe the sensations around your inner thigh, outer hip, and glutes. Only move your limbs to the spot where the stretch is not too deep.
The idea is to allow for the release of tension; if the sensation is too intense, this may create more stress in this sensitive region of the body.
To hold the posture, thread your left arm through the opening between your legs. Clasp both hands around your right shin or hamstring. This is why it is called "Eye of the Needle Pose." Your arm through the opening resembles the thread going through the eye of a needle. Once you have found the proper level of sensation and intensity on this side, hold the position for ten slow breaths. This will allow for an adequate release of tightness that tends to build up.
Not only does physical tension arise in this area of the body, but energetically, emotional stress tends to store in your hips. The first, second, and third Chakras are related to the hip region.
Feelings such as joy, stability, strength, creativity, and movement are components of these lower Chakras. If the hips develop tension, essentially, there is a blockage of these feelings; they do not flow as naturally as intended. Hip release, therefore, is essential for clearing these passages.
Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Another hip-opening yoga posture that can be practiced by any yogi is Happy Baby Pose. Begin the posture by lying on your back on your yoga mat. Hug both knees toward your torso. Hold onto your shins in this position. Separate your knees until you experience a gentle stretch in your inner thighs. If this is enough sensation, hold your posture here.
To go further, grab hold of the bottom of your feet with your hands. Lift them until the soles of your feet face the ceiling. Keep your legs wide, and your knees bent at 90 degrees. Gently press down, so it feels like your knees are coming down toward the floor on either side of you. This, too, will create a deeper stretch in the inner thighs. The posture also positively affects your hips and lower back: regions of the body that hold a lot of tension that limit mobility. Hold this posture for ten slow deep breaths. You may hold steady in this yoga position, or add a gentle rocking movement left and right to encourage more release in the hips.
Because these are gentle yoga postures, you can practice them everyday. In a short period of time, you will notice that your hips as well a s your low back, inner thighs, and glutes will begin to loosen.
The tight muscles and connective tissues supporting these areas will open up so that you will have much improved mobility. You'll be dancing and smiling in no time!