Runners and the deskbound rejoice! Your tight hips will soon feel more open and relaxed. Just step onto your yoga mat or even the floor next to your computer and move through this 16-pose hip-opening sequence.
Downward Facing Dog
- Begin on the hands and feet in the classic upside-down V shape known as Down Dog.
- Spread the fingers wide, and flare your heels slightly wider than the toes so the outside edges of the feet are parallel with the outside edges of the mat.
- Actively press the hips away from the hands, relax the head, and gaze between the thighs or up toward the belly, holding for five breaths.
- From Downward Facing Dog, step the feet together so your big toes are touching. Keeping the left heel on the mat, inhale to raise your right leg in the air, coming into Three-Legged Dog.
- Hold here for five breaths with the shoulders parallel to the floor, keeping the belly still and breathing into the chest.
- From Three-Legged Dog, inhale to draw your right knee forward between the hands. Exhale to adjust the front leg so you feel an opening in the right hip and left hip flexor, but not so much that you feel pain.
- Rest your hands on your hips or inhale to raise the arms in the air, gazing at the palms with relaxed shoulders.
- Breathe deeply for five breaths.
- From Pigeon, exhale to lower the left shoulder to the floor in front of your shin. Extend your left arm, and rest your cheek on your right hand.
- Enjoy this twist for five breaths.
- From Rotated Pigeon, inhale to lift the torso up and bend your left knee.
- Reach for your left foot with your right hand and wrap your left fingers around the top of your right thigh.
- Gaze over the left shoulder, holding for five breaths.
- From Pigeon Twist, release your left fingers and place the top of your foot in the crook of your left elbow.
- Keep your left elbow bent to hold your foot in place, and raise your right arm overhead. If you can, hold the right wrist with your left hand.
- Enjoy this pose for five breaths.
Half King Pigeon
- From Pigeon Crescent, release your hands, keeping the back knee bent.
- Turn your torso to face forward, and interlace your fingers behind you. Bend your left knee and hook the foot in the space between your clasped hands.
- Actively press the left foot away from you to deepen the stretch in the chest and shoulders.
- Breathe deeply for five full breaths.
- From Half King Pigeon, release your clasped hands and gently swing your left leg forward.
- Bend your left knee and place it on top of your right leg so your knees, shins, and ankles are stacked. Keeping the shins parallel, flex the feet to feel a stretch in the calves.
- Press your fingertips into the floor behind your pelvis or to make this pose more intense, place your hands in front of your shins and walk them out as far as you can, folding your chest over your legs.
- Enjoy this stretch for five breaths.
Half Happy Baby
- From Double Pigeon, hold the left foot with both hands and lie on your back.
- Relax the torso and gently pull your knee toward the ground.
- Hold this pose for five breaths.
Reclining Big Toe A
- From Half Happy Baby, straighten the left leg and hold the big toe with the first two fingers and thumb of your left hand. If you can't reach your toe, hold your ankle, calf, or behind your thigh.
- Lift your torso off the floor to engage your core.
- Hold like this for five breaths.
Reclining Big Toe B
- From Reclining Big Toe A, release the torso to the floor and lower the left leg out to the side.
- Gaze to the right, staying here for five breaths.
Both Big Toe Pose
- From Reclining Big Toe B, draw the left leg back into center, continuing to hold your big toe with the left fingers.
- Kick your right leg overhead and use the momentum of quickly lowering it to the floor to simultaneously lift your torso up.
- Hold onto your right big toe and balance on the sitting bones with a straight spine. If this bothers your lower back, just bend the knees.
- If it feels comfortable, you can lower your head slightly behind you to open through your throat.
- Hold like this for five deep breaths.
Lifted Wide Straddle
- From Both Big Toe Pose, continue balancing on the sitting bones and separate the legs into a wide straddle.
- Relax the shoulders away from the ears, and hold here for five breaths.
- From Lifted Wide Straddle, release your feet and hold them out wide as you extend your hands in front of you.
- Keep lifting through the chest, holding for five breaths.
- From Wide Boat, inhale to bring your arms to the outside of the knees and draw the legs together.
- Hold this position for five breaths.
- From Boat, bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together.
- Using your hands, open your feet up like a book. Inhale to lengthen the spine, and exhale to fold forward, pressing your elbows against the inner knees to increase the stretch.
- Enjoy this pose for five breaths.