Yoga Hip Openers for Beginners (6 Best Poses + Sequence Video)

Hip openers are some of the most popular (and most challenging) yoga poses out there!

Why? Mostly because we could all use a little more mobility in the hips.

Below we discuss why it’s a good idea to practice hip openers, how often you should perform hip-opening poses, and how to open your hips gently.

We also walk you through six of the best yoga hip openers for beginners.

Yoga Hip Openers for Beginners

Here are six yoga poses to help you on your way in your hip-opening journey.

The intensity of these poses will depend on where you hold tightness in your hips. Because of that, it’s important to listen to your body and move away from or adjust a pose that feels too intense. But otherwise, these poses can be practiced as a sequence!

Start by holding each of these poses for 30 seconds. In time, you might like to increase the hold time to 2-3 minutes, allowing your body to sink deeper into the pose as your hips start to open.

Tip: As you hold these poses, you might notice that your hips feel more spacious and invite you to move deeper into the pose. When you notice this, carefully increase the stretch until you reach your next limit of discomfort (but no pain).

Full Hip-Opening Routine

Continue below for a detailed breakdown of each pose.

Butterfly pose

how to do bound angle pose

Come into butterfly pose (or bound angle pose) by sitting with the soles of your feet together and knees out to the sides.

Add a cushion or folded blanket beneath the sit bones to make this pose more comfortable. You can also add a yoga block beneath each knee to reduce the intensity of the pose.

Let your knees get closer to the ground with each exhale. To increase the intensity of this pose, practice in a supine position by laying on your mat.

Figure four pose

Figure-four pose

Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.

Bring your right ankle to rest just below your left knee and keep your foot flexed. It might be enough of a stretch for you to stay in this position, focusing on pushing your right knee away from you using the strength of your hip.

If you want to increase the stretch, interlace your fingers around your left hamstring and gently pull your leg towards you. Make sure that your shoulders maintain contact with the ground.

To move even deeper into the pose, interlace your fingers around your left shin and pull your leg towards you while gently pushing your right knee away with your right elbow.

Stay here for a few breaths before repeating on the other side.

Double pigeon pose

Double-pigeon pose

Come to a seated position and cross your legs on the floor in front of you. Take the top leg, and place your foot on the bottom leg to rest just above your knee. If this is too intense, stay in a cross-legged position that feels comfortable.

If you’re struggling to sit up straight in a cross-legged position, bring a folded blanket or cushion beneath the sit bones. Add as many cushions/blankets as you need to bring your hips higher than your knees.

From here, place your hands on the floor in front of your shins and gently walk your fingers forward – focusing on keeping a straight spine.

Spend a few breaths here before switching the cross of your legs and repeating on the other side.

Low lunge

how to do low lunge pose

Start in a standing position with your feet hip-distance apart. On an exhale, come into a forward fold, bringing your hands to the ground and bending your knees as much as you need.

Step back with your right leg to come into a lunge before dropping your right knee to the ground and finding a low lunge. Place blocks beneath your hands if this feels more comfortable or makes the pose more accessible.

To increase the stretch in the front of your hips, lift through the torso and bring your hands to rest gently on your front thigh.

Allow your hips to sink closer to the ground with each exhale.

Stay here for a few breaths before repeating on the other side.

Garland pose

how to do garland pose

To perform Garland pose, start in a standing position with your feet shoulder distance apart and toes facing slightly away from each other.

On an exhale, bring your hands to a prayer position at your heart center and sink your hips towards the ground as you bend your knees.

To make this position more accessible, bring a block or cushion beneath your sit bones.

Pigeon pose

Pigeon pose

Start on all fours with your wrist directly below your shoulder and knees below your hips. From here, slide your right knee towards your right wrist, then bring your right foot out to the left. Bring your hips to the ground as you straighten through your back knee and bring your left leg to the mat.

Push into your hands to stay tall through the spine and open through the chest. To rest in pigeon pose, walk your hands forward and bring your head to rest on a block, a cushion, or the ground.

Spend a few breaths here before repeating on the other side.

Why Is It a Good Idea to Practice Hip Openers?

Hip openers are the focus of yoga classes worldwide – for a good reason!

If you spend lots of time sitting and driving, you might notice that your hips are tight. Tight hips can be particularly uncomfortable and lead to pain in the legs and back.

Related: Yoga Poses for Tight Hips (Easy 5-Minute Sequence)

But when we open the hips, we benefit from improved circulation, flexibility, and range of movement – not only in the hips but also in the back and legs!

How Can I Open My Hips Gently?

Several asanas (yoga poses) can support you in gently opening the hips. The most important thing is to approach deep stretches with caution to avoid injury.

We covered six poses above that will help you gently open the hips in detail. These include:

Tip: If you find one pose too difficult, try another and return to the more challenging poses once you’ve increased the flexibility in your hips.

How Often Should I Do Hip Openers?

As long as you’re not in pain, you can practice hip openers 2-3 times a day – holding each hip-opening yoga pose for at least 30 seconds.

Aim for deep stretches that lead to a little discomfort but do not cause pain. Many yoga teachers refer to this point as the “sweet spot”.

In time, you’ll notice your hips opening and poses becoming more accessible. From here, you can begin to hold poses for longer or start practicing more advanced hip openers.

Related: Yoga for Hip Flexors (Best Poses & 5-Minute Routine)

Why Do Hip Openers Hurt?

The hips are surrounded by large muscles responsible for the movement of the lower body. When we open our hips, we target the muscles and ligaments that surround the hips. These muscles become very tight from things like sitting, driving, and improper posture.

When we start opening the hips, it can feel incredibly painful because we’re targeting some of the largest (and tightest) muscles in the body!

It’s also thought that the hips are where you store negative and upsetting feelings. It’s incredibly common to become emotional and cry during deep hip openers! Let it out if you find yourself tearing up in the middle of your yoga class. The teacher has likely seen it before, and you’ll feel much better about it.

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