Yoga for Hip Stretches

With all the power and strength that comes from our hips in Yoshukai, it’s important to take some time to release those muscles.  These are big muscle groups, and continuing to strengthen them without spending time on flexibility may limit your kicks and stance transitions.  There’s also wide variability in how each individual will respond to hip stretches, which is why I’ve provided several different options.  It’s suggested you try various poses to find something that works, but recall that each of these may not be more difficult than any of the others; they’re simply provided to give you lots of options to find what works best for you.

Seated position:

Sit with one heel in front of your groin, the other heel directly in line with that.  If this is enough, stay here.

SeatedPose

If you need more, begin to extend forward with a flat spine until you do find a stretch in your hips.

ExtendedSeatedPose

Once your reach that point, round forward to release your spine and neck.

RoundedSeatedPose

Hold for five to ten breaths[1], then switch the cross of the feet and repeat on the other side.  Remember that you may not go as far or may go farther on the other side (true of all these hip stretches). 

Bull seat:

Sitting on the floor, bring your right knee forward, with your right heel alongside your left hip.  If possible, bring your left hip alongside your right heel.

BullSeat

If your left knee floats high above your right, stay here for your five to ten breaths and let gravity slowly pull the right knee down.

If your left knee easily stacks on the right and you need more of a stretch, begin to walk your fingertips forward with a flat spine until you feel your stretch.

ExtendedBullPose

After you find this stretch, round the spine for your five to ten breaths.

RoundedBullSeat

Repeat on the other side.

Firelog pose:

From a seated pose, bring your right shin parallel on the floor in front of you, foot flexed.  Stack your left ankle on your right knee, letting your left knee stack or float over your right ankle.

FirelogPose

If this knee is floating, hold here and let gravity increase the stretch.

 

If you need more of a stretch, extend forward until you feel the stretch in your hips.

ExtendedKeyhole

From here, round your spine for your five to ten breaths.  Repeat on the other side.

RoundedKeyhole

Keyhole pose:

Lay on your back, planting both feet on the floor.

RecliningPose

Flex your right foot and place your right ankle over your left knee.

KeyholePrep

Bring your legs toward your chest and hold behind your left thigh or in front of your left shin.  Hold for five to ten breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Keyhole

PIgeon pose:

Start in downward-facing dog.  Bring your right leg up behind you into three-legged dog.

3LeggedDog

From here, bring the leg forward and place your right knee behind your right hand.

PigeonPrep

The farther forward your right foot, the more intense the stretch; be sure to keep the foot flexed and go slowly into the stretch to avoid injury or muscle tightening.  Lower your left knee onto the floor.

Pigeon

Extend your arms forward and lower your chest as far as you can.

ExtendedPigeon

Hold for five to ten breaths.  To release, press in with your hands to come back to downward-facing dog.  Make any movements here to release the muscles.  Repeat on the other side.

Butterfly pose:

The previous stretches focused on the outside of the hips; this pose focuses on the inside of the hips and groin muscles.

Sit on the floor with your feet together and knees falling open.  Pull your heels in as close to your hips as possible.  From here, lie back onto the floor and let gravity pull your knees down.

RecliningButterfly

This is a restorative pose; that is, you shouldn’t be using a lot of muscular effort here.  Hold for five to ten breaths.

 

[1] These poses should be held for longer than the other poses because the hips are such a large muscle group, and should be given a longer period of time to get full release.

 

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