Begin withAnatomy 101: Balance Mobility + Stability in Your Hip Joints
Step the left foot back into a lunge, bending the right knee directly over the right heel and bringing the left knee to the floor (you can use a folded blanket under the knee for comfort). Engage the left glutes to increase the stretch in the front of the left hip. Bend the left knee and grasp the ankle with your hand or a strap to deepen the hip stretch. Then activate the muscles by imagining that you are trying to drag the left knee forward. Hold for 5 seconds, then relax and go deeper into the stretch. Release and repeat on the other side.
See alsoA Sequence to Stretch + Strengthen Outer Thighs and Hips
This pose stretches the hamstrings and the adductor muscles on the inner thighs. Sit on the floor with your legs in a V and activate your quadriceps to straighten the knees. Engage the outer hip muscles to widen the legs, then press your heels into the floor and attempt to drag them toward each other isometrically to contract the hamstrings and adductors. Hold for 5 seconds, relax, then repeat and go deeper into the stretch.
See also5 Common Myths About Athletes’ Tight Hips
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
This pose strengthens the outer hip and gluteal muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-distance apart. Press your feet into the floor and attempt to drag them apart without movement. This trains the outer hip muscles to remain active in the pose and strengthens the muscles around the pelvis. Maintain this action as you contract the gluteus maximus to lift the pelvis up into Bridge. Hold for 5 breaths and release.
See alsoAnatomy 101: Understand Your Hips to Build Stability
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
￼This pose stretches the outer hip and gluteals and also relieves tension in the deep hip muscles. From Tabletop, bring your right ankle toward your left wrist and place the lower right leg on the floor parallel to the front edge of your mat. Extend your left leg straight behind you. You can stay lifted in a backbend or fold forward over the bent right leg. Feel free to place a block under the front thigh muscles of the extended back leg for support. Hold for 5–10 slow breaths, and then repeat on the other side.
See also Open Your Hips in Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Teacher Ray Long, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon in Detroit and the founder of Bandha Yoga, a website and book series dedicated to the anatomy and biomechanics of yoga. He trained with B.K.S. Iyengar.
Model Geenie Celento is a Denver-based yoga teacher.