500 hour yoga certificationBy Faye Martins

As a hatha yoga instructor, you might always include hip openers in your classes, and they are needed now, more than ever. The majority of our yoga students spend all day sitting behind a desk and staring at a computer screen. Even those, who don’t have an office job, spend a disproportionate amount of time sitting. All of this sitting leads to some very tight hips. What yoga poses are best for restoring hip health? Take a look at these three hip-opening poses below and modify the directions to accommodate your students.

1. Pigeon 

Begin in down dog. From there, sweep the right or left knee forward towards the hands. Keeping your back leg and hips square and pointed at the floor, ease your front bent knee onto the mat, laying it down so that the outside of the leg is resting flat on the mat. Then lower your back straight leg down so that your back hip is also flat against the mat. From this point, you can keep your arms straight, supporting your upper body weight, or you can gradually fold your upper body down onto the mat. For a deeper stretch, reach out in front of you with your hands, and inch them forward as far as you can, without bringing your hips up. You can stay in pigeon for a few breaths or for several minutes.


2. Camel 

Most yoga teachers consider Camel pose only for the back bending benefits or to counter pose for forward bending asanas. Start in the kneeling position at the front of the mat. Your knees should be about hip width apart, with your knees directly underneath your hips. Behind you, your shins, ankles and feet should be in a parallel position. Now, put your hands on your hips and start to gradually arch backward. When you feel stable, reach your hands back towards your feet or use yoga blocks outside your heels. Allow the head to also drop back, so that you are looking at the ceiling. If you are flexible enough, lower your hands until you are holding your ankles. Without allowing the knees to slide out from underneath the hips, press the hips forward. Stay in this position for a few breaths.


3. Frog 

This yoga pose is a very simple one that’s great for beginners who need to start the process of opening up their hips, but be careful that new students don’t hurt their knees doing this pose. Begin in table pose, with the feet slightly splayed, and pointing outward. Next, lower your upper body onto your forearms and elbows, pressing your open palms flat into the mat. Walk the knees outward, as far as they will allow, without straining the knees, hips or lower back. When the knees are out as far as they will go, allow the hips to float down towards the mat. The most flexible yogis will be able to press their chest and hips flat against the mat.



Obviously, there are many different types of hip openers, because the hips are ball and socket joints. Therefore, you can give the hips therapeutic work from many different angles. Ask your yoga students to be patient, because some of your students may be very stiff in the hips, while others will be very flexible. In some cases, students become agitated with their progress and this leads to forcing or pushing. The key to progress is patience and the realization that each of us has a unique body.

What other hip openers do you use with your yoga students? Please share them in the comments section.

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