Got Tight Hips? Try These 2 Gravity Yoga Poses…

by Lucas Rockwood

When I first started yoga, my hips were so stiff that my knees would bend up at chest-height when I sat cross-legged on the floor. It was embarrassing and also painful to stay in this position for any extended period of time. I remember attending a lecture in a room with no chairs one evening, and 15 minutes into the talk, I was dripping sweat from the discomfort in my hips.

How is it possible I’d lost my basic range of motion in my early 20’s?

It happens pretty quickly these days. You spend a couple years at an office job, do nothing but cardio machines at the gym, don’t stretch at all, and you’ll lose hip mobility in a hurry. Since you’re reading this, you probably can’t sit comfortably cross-legged either, and you probably notice your tight hips when you try to squat down or lunge. Although you might be unaware of it, your tight hips are likely affecting your walking, running, and standing postures too.

And here’s where it gets tricky.

When you’re that stiff, yoga classes are frustrating because so many poses are just too awkward to even attempt, and this is one of the common reasons people sometimes say, “I’m just too stiff for yoga.” Public classes are great—don’t stop going—but just understand that the real flexibility training for trouble areas usually happens at home.

In order to double or even triple your progress, particularly in the hips, keep going to class (this is essential) but take 10-15 minutes each day before bed to practice Gravity Yoga for flexibility. The postures listed below are a great place to start working on your hips.

Butterfly Pose (a.k.a baddha konasana)

  • Sit on the floor
  • Bend your knees
  • Bring the soles of your feet together
  • Pull your feet as close to your crotch as possible
  • Fold forward and place your finger tips on the floor
  • Walk your fingertips forward until you can’t fold any further
  • Relax everything (legs, back, neck, head, arms)
  • Breath in through your nose for a 4 count
  • Breath out through your mouth for a 4 count
  • Stay here for 3-5 minutes

Blaster Pose

  • Take Downward Dog
  • Step your right foot between your hands
  • Drop your left knee to the floor
  • Push your right foot forward until the right ankle is underneath OR in front of the right knee
  • Bring both hands onto the floor inside of the leg

  • If it’s comfortable, drop down onto your elbows (if not, don’t!)
  • Breath in through your nose for a 4 count
  • Breath out through your mouth for a 4 count
  • Stay here for 3-5 minutes
  • Repeat on the other side

The two big muscles that are often blamed for tight hips (though they’re not the only culprits) are the iliacus and the psoas, two important hip flexor muscles referred to collectively as the “iliopsoas.”

These tough tissues enable you to lift your leg when lying on your back and lift up your torso in a sit-up. The iliacus originates on the inner bowl of the pelvis, and the psoas (the weird one) originates on the lumbar spine. Both cross the floor of the pelvis, then the outer edges of the pubic bones, and finally insert on the inner upper femur (thighbone).

So you’ve got this big bundle of muscle and connective tissues that starts at your lower back, extends over your pelvis, and finally connects to your legs. If this tissue gets tight and shortened, you lose basic mobility in simple daily activities such as sitting, squatting, lunging, and even back bending.

Years ago, I used to be the guy who sat like Quasimodo, but now I can comfortably take full lotus for an hour or more at a time without changing my posture. Nutrition played a huge role, but it was primarily these two poses that I used as flexibility training for my hips. So if you’ve got locked up hips right now, I challenge you to do these two postures each evening for the next four weeks, and you’ll be blown away with the results.

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