Our hips tend to be one place that is universally tight in a yoga asana class. Mention hip openers and the room is immediately filled with grumbling and groaning. The muscles in and around the hip joint are habitually tight because of the massive load of stress we put on them. The hips are essentially the cross-roads between the upper half of our body and the lower half of our body. Therefore, virtually any gross movement of the body requires some work in the hips. It makes sense then that almost every yoga asana would involve some strengthening or stretching of the hips.
Being that the hips are comprised of thick solid muscles and a plethora of connective tissue, opening the hips is best suited to a yin practice, with poses held relaxed, gentle, and for a long period of time. However, regular hatha practice can be beneficial to the hips if focus on the area is consistent and gentle.
In yoga practice hips are known to hold a lot of unreleased emotions. So, in addition to being physically uncomfortable for most people, they can be emotionally uncomfortable as well. Hip openers are great poses for practicing presence, non-attachment, and non-judgement while on the mat.
The following sequence is designed as a gentle vinyasa flow to fit all levels of practice. As with any exercise routine, consult your doctor before engaging in physical activity.
Begin lying in Savasana and practice Deerga Swasm (3 part breath)
Supta Padangusthasana A-C
Ananda Balasana; rocking up to seated and coming to table-top
Cat/Cow Stretching and Hip Barrel Rolls
Adho Mukha Svanasana; coming to front of mat in Tadasana
Surya Namaskara A (x2)
Padangusthasana --> vinyasa to Adho Mukha Svanasana
Utthita Trikonasana (R) --> Utkata Konasana --> Utthita Trikonasana (L)
Prasarita Padottanasana series --> jump back to Tadasana
Garudasana (R&L) --> Uttanasana --> Uttkatasana--> Uttanasana
Vinyasa to Adho Mukha Svanasna then come forward to Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (or variations) (R)--> Vinyasa --> Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (L)--> Vinyasa
Ardha Badha Padmottanasana --> Vinyasa to seated
Ardha Salabasana --> Ardha Bhekasana (repeat 2nd side)
Marichyasana A and C
Ardha Matsyendrasana --> recline to back