A fun, all-level hip-opening class. This is an efficient and practical hip opening yoga practice to help you become more flexible, release back and sciatica pain, and increase mobility. Enjoy while you get flexible.
20 Minute Hip Opening Yoga Practice
Welcome to Doron yoga. When I ask my students what they want to focus on in their asana practice, the answer is almost always “hips.” So today we’ll work on a 20-minute, hip-dedicated sequence that is really efficient and will create change fast, especially if you do this 3 or 4 times a week. It’s only 20 minutes, so breathe through it, do an extra warm-up if you need to, and try to enjoy it! (Really!) Here we go.
To start, come to the hands and knees for delicious pose. Really begin to move the hips and shoulders up and down, rotating and moving freely. It’s really a belly-dancer deluxe type of movement. Switch directions after several breaths. Try to make it really fluid. Let all your lower back and hips get lots of love.
Downward-facing Puppy (Anahatasana)
Now come to neutral and walk the hands forward for downward-facing puppy. With the knees on the ground, just really surrender with the head down, chin down, maybe even the chest down on the ground, and the hips in the air. After a few breaths, come back up to the hands and knees.
Hip and Core Warm-up
To begin warming up the core and the hips, bring the right leg up behind you through an inhale and straighten the leg, then drive the right knee forward to your nose through an exhale. Repeat this process, but bring the right knee to the left elbow through an exhale. Repeat with the right knee coming to the right elbow through your exhale. Finally straighten the right leg behind you again, and raise the left arm off the ground in front of you so that you are balancing on your left leg and right arm only.
Now repeat the above process (right leg up in the air, then through to the nose), but this time move your left arm in sequence with the right leg. Every time the right leg goes up, the left arm comes up. Every time the leg comes down, the arm comes down to allow the left elbow to touch the right knee. Make sure you are inhaling through the extensions and exhaling through the contractions.
Repeat the above process on the other side (left leg up this time).
Now come into downward-facing dog for a few breaths. If you want, you can flex your legs one at a time, bending the knees and alternating shifting each heel towards the floor.
Low Lunge and Runner’s Lunge
After a few breaths, extend the right leg behind you, bend the right knee and stack the right hip over the left. Hold for a breath or two, then bring the right leg forward between the hands, with the right knee bent. Drop the left knee to the ground and take low lunge, with the hands on the hips. After a breath or two, feel free to bring the arms overhead and arch the back slightly if available. Try to extend the chest upwards, bringing the back knee as close to the ground as possible.
After a few breaths, return the hands to the ground and take the back knee off the ground (if available). After a couple breaths here, feel free to raise the right hand into the air, following it with the gaze, and twisting the right shoulder upwards. Take a vinyasa (chaturanga -> up dog -> down dog) when you’re ready, then repeat the above process on the other side.
Deep Lunge (Lizard Pose)
Take another vinyasa, and rest in downward dog for a few breaths. When you’re ready, bring the right foot forward again for another low lunge, but this time bring it to the outside of the hands. You should feel a stretch in your groin. If this is comfortable, begin to bring the right knee outwards away from your body. Find a good edge. If available, bring the elbows or even the chest to the ground (or elbows to a block). If not available, it’s OK to keep the hands on the ground. After several breaths, take a vinyasa and repeat the above process on the other side.
Take another vinyasa and once again bring the right foot between the hands for a low lunge. This time, if it’s available, bend the left knee, then reach back and grab the left foot or ankle with the right hand. Pull the left foot towards the hips, and feel the stretch in your quad. If this is easy, you can lower to your left forearm. After several breaths, take a vinyasa and repeat on the other side.
From here we’re moving to a straddle. Some people call it Goddess Pose. Come to your feet with your hips parallel to the long edge of the mat, and your feet wider than hip-distance apart. You can turn your feet outwards a little bit and drop your hips down, bending the knees, as if you’re riding a horse. I like to bring my hands to my heart for this pose. The goal of this pose is to bring the hips as low as possible, but keep the back flat and the chest up. If you want a bit more intensity, bring the heels off the ground and come onto the toes. Don’t forget to breathe!
If you still want more from this pose, bring your hands onto your knees while keeping the chest upright, and then take a twist to each side while trying to open up the hips even further.
Wide-leg Chair Pose/Squat (Malasana)
Still standing, bring the legs to hip-width distance apart, and take chair pose. The hips should drop slightly with the knees bent and the back flat. Then the arms can come overhead. If available, you can lift the heels off the ground.
From this position, bring the hands to the heart and slowly drop the hips as low as you can get them, coming into a squat and lowering as far as you can. If your hips can reach all the way to the ground in this position and you still need more intensity, you can bring the chest between the legs and the hands onto the ground. Walk the hands forward slowly for more intensity.
If you want to take a bind, wrap the right arm around the right leg, and twist the left arm behind your back to grab the right hand. Lift your chest and your gaze upwards and to the left. Repeat this bind on the other side.
After several breaths, come to your seat and bring the soles of the feet together in front of you, with the knees out to the sides of the body. From here, try to open your feet so they are still touching on the ground but the upper edges are pulling away from one another, as if you’re opening a book. Try to push the knees towards the ground. If necessary, you can sit on a block for this pose.
If this is comfortable, lean the chest forward over the feet and come as close to the ground as you can, maybe bringing your hands to the ground or maybe your chest. Use a block if you need one. Remember to be patient. You may not be able to bring your chest to the ground the very first time.
After several breaths, come back up and open the legs wide in front of you (as wide as you can go, be gentle with yourself). Keep the hips tilted forward and the feet flexed. If this is difficult, keep the hands behind the back and the chest upright as you slowly bend forwards to your edge. You may also sit on a block. If this is easy, bring the hands in front of you and, keeping the hips tilted forward, begin to bend forwards to bring the hands, forearms, or possibly even the chest to the ground.
After a few breaths, come back up and then lower over the right leg, grasping the right foot with the right arm if available, and raising the left shoulder towards the sky. If this is easy, bring the left arm overhead to the right foot, while keeping the shouder up and the chest open. After a few breaths, inhale to come back up, then exhale and fold to the other side and repeat.
Ankle-to-knee (Fire Log) Pose
Come up and shake out your legs (or your whole body!) and then come into ankle-to-knee pose. This is just what it sounds like. With your left leg on the ground and your knee bent, bend your right knee and bring the right ankle up on top of the left knee. You may need to use your hands to get the ankle up there. If this is easy for you, take a fold forward (remember to keep the hips tilted forwards and the chest up before you fold).
If none of the above is available, lean back and bring your left knee up and the bottom of your foot to the ground, then bring your right ankle up above the knee. After several breaths, switch sides.
Come up to the hands and knees, and move the right leg up into the air and begin to do some hip circles. Bend the knee and just rotate the leg around in the air several times, and then switch directions. After several repetitions, switch sides and do hip circles with your left leg. This exercise builds hip strength to balance out the hip opening we have worked on in this practice.
Ah the lovely pigeon. This is probably the best-known pose for hips. From the hands and knees, bring the right leg forward so the right foot is near the left hand and the right knee is on the ground. Lower your left knee/leg to the ground. The closer your right foot is to the hip, the easier this pose will be.
If this position feels good (with the hands on the ground), stay here and breathe into your pose. If you need more, lower the forearms to a block or to the ground. Remember to keep the spine long. Stay present with deep breathing. If this is still fine with the forearms on the ground, bring the head and even the chest to the ground in front of you.
If this position feels OK, you can lift up the chest, bend the left knee, and grasp the left foot or ankle with the left hand. You can also twist and grab with the right hand if available.
After several breaths, come up and do some more hip circles before repeating your half pigeon on the other side. In pigeon, gravity and your body weight are doing all the work, so this is a great pose to practice easing the mind. The more you can relax the mind and the whole body, the quicker the hip opening will happen, because there’s no resistance. If it feels intense, that’s OK. Try not to call the feeling by any bad names, just let it be and stay with your breath. Our hips are associated with our emotions, so the softer you can be with your emotions, the quicker your hips will open.
I love to do a little seated meditation after the hip-opening practice to feel the calmness, the steadiness, and the openness from the practice we just did. At the least, bring the hands to the heart and take a moment of gratitude.
I am quite grateful to you for watching; please leave me a comment to let me know how this practice worked for you. How did you like it? How many times have you practiced this? Really share your experiences. I love to feel like I have an audience and like I’m chatting with you guys.