I have been working on my middle splits for almost two years, so I am feeling like an expert in inner hip opening yoga at this point.
Top 14 Yoga Hip Openers
You can incorporate any of these hip-opening yoga poses into your practice to release tight hips. You may find that your favorite inner hip opening yoga poses evolve. They come and go. That’s perfectly natural! Listen to your body and go with what works!
1. Baddha Konasana (Butterfly Pose)
In this pose, sit down and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to fall outward gently. Engage your hands to hold onto your feet or ankles. Gently press your knees toward the floor while keeping your spine tall. This pose provides a gentle and relaxing stretch to the inner thighs and hips, helping to improve flexibility and mobility in the hip joints. Read more about the butterfly stretch here.
2. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose)
Starting from a high plank position, bring one knee forward between your hands. Extend the opposite leg back, ensuring your hips are square to the front of your mat. As you fold over the front leg, feel the stretch in your hip flexors, groin, and outer hip of the extended leg. Pigeon Pose is a deep hip opener that promotes flexibility in the hip rotator muscles. Learn more about pigeon pose.
3. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)
Step one foot forward into a lunge position with the back knee lowered to the ground. Sink your hips down and forward while maintaining a neutral spine. This pose targets the hip flexors of the back leg and stretches the front of the hips. It helps to release tension and improve mobility in the hip area. Learn more about the low lunge.
4. Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
Stack one knee on top of the other, aligning the feet on opposite sides of your body. Hold onto your feet, use a strap if needed, and gently draw your knees toward each other. This pose deeply stretches the outer hips and glutes. The arm position in this pose also offers a shoulder stretch, making it a comprehensive posture for both hips and shoulders. Learn about cow face pose.
5. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Lie on your back and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to open to the sides. Gravity aids in gently opening your hips in this reclined position. The pose also promotes relaxation and can help release inner thigh and groin tension. Learn more about the reclining bound angle pose.
6. Malasana (Garland Pose)
Squat down with your feet hip-width apart and your elbows pressing your knees outward. This deep squat opens the hips, stretches the groin area, and engages the lower body muscles. It’s a pose that enhances flexibility in the hip joints and improves mobility in the hips and ankles. Learn more about the garland pose.
7. Skandasana (Side Lunge Pose)
Begin in a wide stance and bend one knee deeply while shifting your weight towards that side. Keep the other leg extended. This pose provides a lateral hip stretch, targeting the inner thighs and hips. It helps improve flexibility and mobility in the hips while working on balance. As a reminder, I created a full skandasana tutorial.
8. Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend)
Sit down and spread your legs wide apart in a “V” shape. Fold forward from your hips, reaching your hands toward your feet or the floor. This pose provides a deep stretch to the inner thighs and hips while promoting hamstrings and lower back flexibility. Learn more about the wide-angle seated forward bend.
9. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)
Sit with one leg extended and the other foot crossed over the extended leg, placing it outside the knee. Twist your torso towards the crossed leg, providing a gentle hip-opening twist. This pose targets the outer hip and glute muscles while also engaging the core and promoting spinal mobility. Learn more about the half lord of the fishes pose.
10. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend)
Take a wide stance and fold forward from your hips, reaching your hands towards the ground or your feet. This pose deeply stretches the hamstrings, hips, and inner thighs. It also encourages a gentle release of tension in the lower back.
11. Lizard Pose
From a low lunge, place your hands inside the front foot and lower your forearms to the ground. This pose intensifies the hip opening and stretches the groin. It offers a deeper stretch to the hip flexors and prepares the hips for more advanced poses.
12. Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)
Lie on your back, grab your feet, and gently draw your knees towards your armpits. This playful pose opens the hips and stretches the groin while gently stretching the lower back. It’s a relaxing and soothing posture that can help release tension.
13. Ardha Bhekasana (Half Frog Pose)
Lie on your belly, bend one knee, and reach back to hold onto the foot. This pose opens the quadriceps and hip flexors of the bent leg. It can also be used as a preparation for deeper backbends.
14, Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)
Lie on your back and extend one leg upwards, holding the big toe with your hand. Keep the other leg extended or bend it as desired. This pose provides a deep stretch to the hamstrings and opens the hips. It’s a relaxing way to lengthen the muscles along the back of the leg while gently opening the hips.
Remember to practice these poses mindfully, respecting your body’s limits and gradually increasing the intensity of the stretches as your flexibility improves.
I have created many hip opening routines. For example: Skandasana Progression: Hip Opening for the Side Lunge, Yoga for Hip Strength and Flexibility (2 Video Routines), How to Increase Hip Mobility: Try These Drills!
Inner Hip Opening Yoga for Beginners
I recommend you give today’s hip opening routine a try, no matter what your level. However, if you don’t enjoy following along and don’t feel quite ready for it, I have some beginner tips for you. Furthermore, I will list the routines that helped me progress to where today’s routine feels ideal.
Here are some beginner tips for effectively and safely opening the inner hips using yoga:
- Warm-Up: A gentle warm-up prepares your body for hip-opening poses. Start with a few rounds of Sun Salutations or gentle stretches to gradually increase blood flow and warm the muscles.
- Consistency: Consistency is vital. Incorporate hip-opening poses regularly into your yoga practice to see gradual improvements in flexibility and mobility.
- Mindful Approach: Listen to your body and be patient. Avoid pushing yourself into deep stretches too quickly. Allow your body to adapt and progress naturally over time.
- Use Props: Props like yoga blocks, blankets, or straps can help provide support and make the poses more accessible, especially for beginners.
- Alignment: Focus on proper alignment to target the right areas. Align your knees, hips, and feet as instructed in each pose to avoid strain.
- Engage Core Muscles: Activating your core muscles can provide stability and support to your hips, making finding a safe and effective stretch easier.
- Breathing: Breathe deeply and evenly during the poses. Inhale to prepare, and exhale as you ease into the stretch. Avoid holding your breath or forcing the stretch.
- Modify as Needed: If a pose feels too intense, modify it by reducing the depth of the stretch or using props. It’s better to stay in a comfortable range of motion than to overstretch.
- Gradual Progression: Start with gentler poses and gradually work up to more advanced hip openers as your flexibility improves. Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) and Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) are good starting points.
- Release Tension: Focus on relaxing the muscles around the hips. Avoid tensing up or clenching. Imagine the hips melting and releasing with each breath.
- Hold and Breathe: Hold each pose for a minute at least, breathing deeply and allowing your body to settle into the stretch. As someone who started improving my flexibility over 40, I cannot overemphasize the importance of settling in your stretches long enough to train your nervous system and see results.
Here are some of the routines that I used over and over again until now: 6 Most Effective Side Splits Stretches (Plus Follow Along Routine), Top 9 Stretches for Hip Flexibility With Follow-Along Yoga Routine, 5 Efficient Stretches for the Middle Splits (With Proven Tips), Pancake Stretch Progression: How to Get Your Pancake.
Consistency is key! Want help staying consistent with yoga practice? I created a 5-Day Yoga Habit Challenge for that purpose.
Hip Opening Yoga Sequence Intermediate
What makes today’s inner hip yoga flow intermediate? Well, it combines strength and flexibility, which is challenging for completely inflexible beginners. That’s why my beginner-friendly routines tend to be more passive. Also, it involves a long hold of some challenging poses like the pancake and the middle splits. You can easily adapt this sequence by skipping the exercises you don’t want to do or not holding them as long.
Keep practicing! It’s all about the journey!