While some poses you can work hard at and find progress through sheer effort, hip-openers take time, sometimes years to open up. There is no shortcut, just serious patience and commitment to achieve these poses. It is the poses that we are not good at that are usually the toughest to practice. That is why men should practice hip-openers regularly. The poses you do not like to do are not going to get any easier if you avoid them.
Hip openers also have the most therapeutic benefit for the lower body all the way up to the low-back. They are especially beneficial for the knees if practiced with good alignment. Try this challenging flow to open the hips and feel great.
Step your feet hips-width apart and make sure your feet point straight forward. Bow forward and touch your fingertips to the ground in front of your feet. Make sure the weight is evenly distributed both in the heels and the tops of your feet. If you cannot touch the ground, bend your knees as much as you have to to touch. If you need to widen your stance more to touch, you can. This will protect your back. Even if you have your knees bent, actively stretch down through your feet to open the hamstrings.
Down Dog Lunge
Right side. Bend your front knee over your ankle and get long enough in your stance so the back foot is vertical. Move your front foot to the right edge of your mat. Keep the front kneecap pointing over your second toe-mound. Straighten your back leg completely, and reach your arms forward and off to the left. Hop up onto your fingertips and engage your arms.
Lie on your belly and clasp your hands behind your back. Lift your shoulders, chest up and work your arms towards straight. Straighten your legs as you lift them off the ground from the inner-thighs.
From lunge, lower your back knee to the mat gently. If your knee is cranky, pad up the knee. Wiggle your front foot to the outer edge of your mat. Angle your front foot out fifteen degrees and point your knee the same direction as your foot. Only as much as you can keep your front knee aligned you can bend your elbows and lower your forearms to the floor.
Downhill Skier Figure-Four
Step your feet hips width apart with your feet straight forward. Bend your knees and make sure they point the same direction as your feet. Shift weight into your right foot and bring your left outer ankle across your right thigh. Bend your right knee deeply to create a shelf for your left shin. Press your right hand against the left sole of your foot to engage the foot. Do not stop flexing your foot to protect your knee. Bring your left hand on your inner right knee. Lift your knee up against your hand to engage your leg, and set your left inner thigh back and down to sit heavy. Reach your arms overhead.
In Side Angle and Triangle, focus on setting your back thigh towards the backplane of your body until your hips are square to the long edge of your mat. In wide angle, make sure your weight is evenly distributed in the heels and the tops of your feet.
Right side. Stand at the top of your mat with your feet touching. Reach your arms overhead and swing your right arm underneath your left and either single or double wrap your arms. Bend your knees like chair pose , and swing your right leg over and around your left. Lift your elbows even with your shoulders, sit heavy and tone your hips, i.e. squeeze your but tight and tone your belly.
From standing, bring your arms alongside you like airplane wings and lift your left leg off the mat and forward without leaning back. Swing your left leg back and your chest forward until you are a “T” shape in your body. Lift your back leg from the inner-thigh and keep your hips level.
From Warrior III, lean forward and touch the floor in front of your grounded foot. Only as much as you can keep your grounded heel rooted and your standing legs side outer hip setting back, stretch the lifted leg up from the in-seam of your leg.
Right side. From Down Dog, bring your right knee behind your right wrist and angle your right shin at a diagonal across the mat. Lower your back knee to the mat. Level your hips. Set your right inner-thigh down and your right outer-hip back. Hollow your belly and set your hips back and down like cat pose. As the hips open you can slither your back leg further back.
From Pyramid with the right foot forward, bring your left hand across your body to the outside of your right foot. Bring your right hand to your right hip. Pause. Lengthen your back and open your chest to the right. Once your chest faces the wall to your right, reach your right arm up. Keep your hips level. Do not sway the head or hips. Hollow your belly and churn your low-belly towards the sky. Set your throat back and look up towards your right hand.
From downhill skier figure-four, reach your arms towards the floor. If they do not touch, breath there in the hip opener. If you're close enough to place your hands on the ground, set them down with your pointer fingers pointing straight forward. Rest your shin on your triceps. Flick your toes against your arm like a hook. Lean forward, bring your back heel to your butt, then stretch your back leg back like Warrior III.