How to open your hips while binge-watching Netflix. Because let's be real, we all love a good binge every now and again :)
Judgement free zone here…right?! My guilty pleasure right now is Heartland, that I’m watching with Amara. It is just the right level of cheesy, it satisfies my insatiable love of horses, and it is FILLED with strong female characters. What's not to love?!
And while I’m getting my Heartland on, I also love to stretch, and what I’m working on right now is opening up my hips. Because to be honest, my hips are always tight, and always need opening up.
Try these 6 hip opening exercises the next time you’re watching your favorite show….
Yoga squat (Malasana)
Squat with your feet as close together as possible. (Keep your heels on the floor if you can; otherwise, support them on a folded mat.)
Separate your thighs slightly wider than your torso. Exhaling, lean your torso forward and fit it snugly between your thighs.
Press your elbows against your inner knees, bringing your palms to together in prayer pose, and resist the knees into the elbows. This will help lengthen your front torso.
To go further, press your inner thighs against the sides of your torso. Reach your arms forward, then swing them out to the sides and notch your shins into your armpits. Press your finger tips to the floor, or reach around the outside of your ankles and clasp your back heels.
Hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then inhale, straighten the knees, and stand into uttanasana
Reclined twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Lie down on your back.
Bend your knees and put the soles of your feet on the floor with your knees pointing up toward the ceiling.
Press into your feet to lift your hips slightly off the floor and shift them about an inch to your right. This is an important step because it sets your hips up to stack one on top of the other when you move into the twist.
Exhale and draw your right knee into your chest and extend your left leg flat on the floor. Keep your left foot actively flexed throughout the pose. Inhale.
Exhale and cross your right knee over your midline to the floor on the left side of your body. Your right hip is now stacked on top of your left hip. You can hook your right foot behind your left knee if you like.
Open your right arm to the right, keeping it in line with your shoulders. Rest your left hand on your right knee or extend it to make a T shape with the arms. Turn your palms toward the ceiling.
Turn your head to the right, bringing your gaze over your shoulder to your right fingertips. You can skip this step if it doesn't feel good on your neck.
On your exhalations, release your left knee and your right shoulder toward the floor.
Hold the pose for five to 10 breaths. To come out of the pose, inhale and roll onto your back, drawing your right knee into your chest. Release both legs to the floor to neutralize your spine for several breaths before doing the other side.
Side lunges (Skandasana)
Begin in Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana).
Bend your left knee into a half-squat. Keep your right leg straight and flex your foot so that your toes leave the floor so you are rooting into the right heel.
Press hips back while keeping the spine lifted. Root into your feet so that your body is lifted, instead of sinking.
There are a lot of options for arm variations. Keep your hands on the floor if you need them for balance (on a block if that is helpful). Otherwise, try bending your elbows and bring your hands into anjali mudra (palms together) with the left elbow inside the left knee in a kind of half Garland Pose (Malasana). Or, extend arms out wide.
Drop your hands to the floor for support and shift to the other side.
Standing half lotus (Ardha Padmasana Vrksasana)
Begin standing in mountain pose with your arms at your sides.
Shift your weight to your left foot, and then ground down firmly.
Moving slowly, bend your right knee up toward your chest. Raise your right foot and gently bring your right heel to rest as high as you can on the front of your left thigh or hip. The sole of your foot should be facing the sky, and the top of your foot should rest on your leg or hip.
If you have no knee pain, then allow your right knee to drop down. Eventually, your bent knee will be in line with the knee of your standing leg, but be careful never to force it.
Hold onto your right foot with your left hand, or a strap. Draw both hips forward. Lengthen your spine.
Hold for up to one minute.
To release the pose, hold onto your right foot again with your left hand. Gently draw the foot away from your body and lower it to the floor. Stand again in Mountain Pose (Tadasana).
Repeat on the opposite side for the same amount of time.
Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, hip-width apart, heels directly below your knees. Leave your upper arms on the floor and bend your elbows alongside your ribs, pointing your forearms and fingers toward the ceiling. Turn your palms to face one another.
Press your elbows and shoulder heads down into the floor, lift your chest, and bring your shoulder blades onto your upper back, wrapping your outer arms toward the floor. Keep your gaze straight up.
Press into your feet and slowly send your knees forward, wrapping your outer hips toward the ceiling; then lift your buttocks away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone toward the backs of your knees.
Straighten your elbows and interlace your fingers underneath you, drawing your shoulder blades deeper into your upper back, keeping the tops of your shoulders in line with the base of your neck.
Gently press the center of the back of your head into the floor. Broaden your collarbones and lift your chest, bringing your sternum toward your chin. Lightly reach your chin away from your chest, keeping space between the back of your neck and the floor. Simultaneously extend out through your knees as you lift your sternum. Take a few rounds of breath here.
To release, unlace your fingers and slowly lower your torso back to the floor.
Lizard (Utthan Pristhasana)
Start in downward facing dog Inhale.
Exhale as you step your right foot to the outside of your right hand. Make sure your foot comes all the way to the front of your mat so your toes are in line with your fingers. Your right knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and stacked above the ankle. Your toes should point out about 45 degrees.
Inhale as you bring your elbows to the floor with your forearms flat on your mat. Spread your palms out on the floor (use a block underneath the forearms here if necessary).
Keep your head in a neutral, relaxed position.
Exhale and press into your left heel to keep your left leg active. This will help ensure your hips don't sag toward the floor.
Stay for 5 rounds of breath
When you're ready to release from the pose, exhale deeply and straighten your arms so your wrists are under your shoulders.
Inhale and step back to Downward Dog.
Stay in your starting pose for several breaths.
Repeat the steps starting with your left leg forward to ensure the pose is performed equally on both sides.