Yoga for Hips - Strengthening and Opening
Strong hips are not only important if you are a runner, or play football. They are essential for your yoga practice as well. Not only athletes need to put some extra love to our hips, everyone should! Our hips help us not only to stabilize our body, but they're also connecting our upper and lower body and are holding more weight than we can imagine. When we take care of our hips, we prevent injury and help our self to stay grounded and in proper alignment.
Why is a strong hip important?Everything in our body and mind is connected whether you like it or not and because of it, an imbalance in strength and inflexibility in our hips can affect our entire body. A knee injury can be connected to weak hips or lower back pain. So let’s have a holistic point of view, and give some love to our hips!
Hip muscles:To even be able to move our hips, our body needs muscles. Our hip joint is surrounded by muscles that make movement possible. One of these muscles is gluteus medius which is protecting our joint. So to strengthen or hips is all about strong muscles around our hip joint. If our glutes aren't strong enough, our hip joint will be exposed to wear and tear as we break it down. Another super important muscle is gluteus maximus. If our glutes aren’t strong enough, our body is trying to compensate by activating our hamstrings instead. We do love those hamstrings, but we don’t want them to take over!
How can I strengthen my hips?Yoga is an excellent practice for building strength in our hip. In a yoga class, you work with flexibility and strengthening poses whether you are in a warrior or a bridge pose. The variations of a good hip workout are endless but here are some of our favorites!
Strong hip exercises:Hip lift: lay down on your back and bend your legs, so you get a 90-degree angle. As you engage your core and glutes, press down your heels, inhale and lift your hips. Exhale as you lower the hips to the floor. To modify: try to do it with one leg at the time.
Warrior II: As you do warrior two next time, put some extra focus on your hip this time. Is it on the right rotation? Are you supporting your lower back? Warrior II
Yogi squat: Malasana! Start in Tadasana, with your feet a bit wider than hip distance apart. Heels in and toes out. On a exhale, slowly bend your knees and tuck your pelvis in for more of a straight back. Go as deep down as your body is allowing you to do. Try to keep your heels to the ground. Palms together and your forearms are pressing your thighs to go wider and deeper. If it’s difficult, try to go wider out with your feet, creating more space.
Hip flexors exercises
Strong hips are one thing, but let’s not forget to work on our flexibility and hip mobility at the same time. One reason behind pain in lower back and knees can be that we have tight hips and therefore need to be more flexible to be able to build muscles in our glutes and hip. Once we are both flexible and strong in our hips, our body is going to thank us. Let's begin to get a better range of motion.
Low Lunge: Start in a downward facing dog. Step your right foot in between your hands. Lower your left knee to the floor. Keep your hip straight as your upper body is coming up. Breathe and try to go deeper as you exhale. Then switch legs!
Butterfly: (Baddha Konasana) Start in a seated position. Gently bend your knees and press the soles of your feet to touch. Place your hands on your feet and try to put them as close to you as possible. Try to press your legs as close to the floor as possible. Don’t forget to have your pelvis in a neutral position. Breathe and stay here. If it’s too hard, place a block underneath for a more upright position.
Try this Hip drill With Lizette
Balancing poses to strengthen our hipNow we are both flexible and strong, so let’s make it a bit more challenging with adding balance as well. Stay connected and strong as we move on to our balance. It might not be a simple exercise but try to stay patient.
Half moon pose: you will find a step by step guide for a graceful half moon pose here: Ardha Chandrasana
Warrior tree: stand in a high lunge with straight arms towards the ceiling, parallel to each other. Straighten your front leg as you kick your heal towards the back wall. Think of the position as you are creating a T formation with your body. The most important thing here, besides keeping your balance, is to have straight hips and stay grounded. Flex your back foot to see if your toes are pointing towards the floor. If so, your hip is straight!
Hips don’t lie!If your body is hurting, listen to what it is trying to tell you. Usually, your body is giving signals telling you what you need. If your hamstrings are short, or your hip is popping during squats then take that as a sign to work with hip strengthening exercises and hip openers to untighten. Hip pain is very common, but the good thing is that there's plenty of things you can do as leg workouts, hip extensors, and mobility exercises. For more tips and guidance, come to a class in our studio!
Benefits of strong hips
- Strong hips help you in all balancing poses in yoga. Once your hips are strong, it will be easier to connect to your core muscles.
- Reduced the risk of injuries.
- Pain relieving, especially pain connecting to your lower back and knees.
- Stress relief on joints that are caring the burden when your hip isn’t strong enough.
- Relieve tightness in our glute and hamstrings
- For a better flow in your movement