Yoga Poses for Hip Pain

Last Updated On July 20, 2021

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

A vast majority of us spend a good portion of our days in a seated position. Whether we’re commuting, sitting at our desks, eating meals, or bingeing Netflix, we’re in a seat. The problem is, spending so much of our time seated isn’t great for you and can cause hip pain, sciatica pain, and some serious discomfort.

Sitting too much means that our hips are in flexion for really long periods of time. That’s a fancy way of saying that the muscles around our hips are shortening more often than they naturally should and that shortening can cause tight hips.

Hip pain can range from mild to intense and lucky for you, yoga stretching is some of the best ways to relieve hip pain quickly and safely.

Common Causes of Hip Pain

Tight hips can be a problem that develops just by doing everyday things like carrying a heavy bag on one side, sitting or standing for long periods, or doing any physical activity with poor form.

When all of those factors tighten the hip muscles, it can cause hip pain that can manifest in a lot of different ways. Sometimes tight hips can also cause poor posture and lower back pain.

Whether you experience simple inflexibility, pinching feelings, or something more (like tendonitis or arthritis), the beginner yoga sequence below can help bring some hip pain relief!

The age-old health practice of yoga can help relieve hip pain, doctors say, because it can help strengthen and stretch muscles that are important in supporting aching joints.

"Some of my patients enjoy yoga as a healthy exercise," says Steven Morgan, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Denver Health Medical Center and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "It has to do with maintaining flexibility of the joint and strengthening the muscles around the joint. The literature also says the meditation and biofeedback contained in yoga are excellent ways to manage pain for some patients."

Yoga for Hip Pain Can Help

Besides using yoga for hip pain, this ancient mind-body therapy can help improve an overall sense of well-being, lung capacity, and body composition. Yoga for hip pain helps because it:

Supports the joints. The fine movements and exacting poses required by yoga for hip pain help strengthen the small muscles used to move and stabilize your hip joint. The better supported the joint is, the less stress is placed on it by your own body weight — and the better it feels.

Stretches the muscles. Flexibility can give you a greater range of motion, making your hip joint more usable and free of pain. Yoga for hip pain is one of the best stretches exercises around.

Opens up the joints. Chronic hip pain can lessen range of motion, restricting the hip joint and placing more weight on a smaller portion of the joint. Yoga for hip pain opens up the hip joint, spreading the load across a greater surface area as your body's natural range of motion is restored.

Types of Yoga for Hip Pain

Experts recommend that people using yoga for hip pain perform more gentle forms of the therapy that focus on postures and breathing.

1. Hatha yoga

This is one of the most popular forms of yoga in the United States, and the type most associated with yoga for hip pain. People participating in Hatha yoga slowly perform a series of gentle stretches, flowing calmly and effortlessly between each pose. As participants perform yoga for hip pain, they breathe slowly and deeply, an act of meditation that relieves stress and can help alleviate chronic strain.

2. Bikram yoga

Also known as hot yoga, Bikram yoga can help with hip pain. A series of postures are practiced in a room heated to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat helps warm muscles, ligaments, and tendons, allowing them to stretch more easily.

Doctors do not recommend the more strenuous forms of yoga that focus on strength training over meditation and gentle stretching. Ashtanga yoga, or power yoga, is one such form, providing a physically intense workout in which the person constantly changes positions. Iyengar yoga focuses on holding positions for long periods of time, an activity that might not be good for your hip pain.

Yoga Poses for Hip Pain

All of the yoga poses provided below are great for beginners and should be fairly simple to perform.

Standing Yoga Poses for Hip Pain

1. Mountain Pose with Block | 5 breaths

Mountain pose helps build balance and reminds you to engage your core. It is a very effective yoga pose to start your practice with because it is beginner-friendly and allows for complete breath and centering.

  1.  Place a block between your thighs and squeeze it.
  2.  As you press your thighs into the block, also use them to press the block slightly back (try not to move your legs or hips).
  3.  Take deep breaths and try to relax the mind

2. Mountain Pose with Step Downs | 5 Breaths per side

Mountain pose helps strengthen your gluteus medius, which helps stabilize your pelvis. It is an approachable and relaxing pose for most.

  1. This time, place a block on the ground.
  2.  Put your left foot on top of it and your right foot on the ground.
  3.  Focus on keeping that neutral alignment of your pelvis here as you add in some simple movement.
  4.  Firm your left outer hip (your gluteus medius) and slowly lift your right foot to the height of your left.
  5.  While keeping the neutral pelvis and engaged outer hip, slowly step your right foot back down.
  6.  Repeat 4 times (5 total) then switch sides.

3. Mountain Pose with Leg Lifts | 5 breaths per side

Mountain pose with leg lifts helps strengthen your hip flexors and improve balance.

  1.    Put your block off to the side and stand in Mountain Pose.
  2.    Shift your weight onto your left leg while firming your left outer hip, just like the last exercise.
  3.    Slowly lift your right leg so that your knee is directly out from your hip and your ankle’s right below your knee (a 90-degree angle).
  4.    Hold there for a full deep breath and then release. Repeat 4 times (5 total) then switch sides.

Reclined Yoga Stretches for Hip Pain

4. Fire Hydrants | 6 breaths per side

The fire hydrant pose helps increase your range of motion in the hip joints.

  1.    Come to a table pose.
  2.    Keeping the knee bent, lift your right knee off the ground and start to make small circles from the right hip.
  3.    Gradually move from smaller to bigger circles and then switch directions.
  4.    After 6 deep breaths, switch sides.

5. Boat Pose | 3 – 5 breaths

Boat pose is a great pose to build core strength while also strengthening the hip flexors.

  1.    Come to a seat with your feet flat on the ground, and your knees pointed up.
  2.    Sit up tall, so your spine is nice and long then stretch your fingertips forward.
  3.    To go deeper, keep your knees where they are as you float your feet off the ground.
  4.    Eventually, you’ll be able to bring your legs into a 90-degree angle.
  5.    You can also head straight there then bring your hands to the backs of your thighs for some added support.

6. Seated Twist | 5 – 10 breaths per side

This yoga pose is a great stretch for the hips and spine.

  1.    From a seated position with your legs out long in front of you, place your right foot on the ground outside of your left leg.
  2.    Bring your right hand to the ground behind your back, and use it to help keep your back upright, lengthening your spine.
  3.    Then, hug your right knee with your left forearm as you twist your torso to the right.
  4.    As an option, the head/gaze can work its way over the right shoulder to take the twist into the upper spine.
  5.    If you want to go deeper, hook your left elbow outside of your right knee.
  6.    For tight hips, you can modify by sitting on the edge of a blanket. Hold for 5-10 breaths then switch sides.

7. Bridge Pose | 5 – 8 breaths

Bridge pose stretches (and lengthens) the hip flexors, strengthens the legs, and extends the spine.

  1.    Starting on your back with a block nearby.
  2.    Make sure your feet are underneath your knees then put the block between your thighs.
  3.    With your arms long beside your body, palms facing down, start to squeeze into the block.
  4.    Continue to squeeze the block as you lift your hips off the ground, coming into bridge pose.
  5.    Hold the pose for 5 to 8 breaths then slowly release down and rest.

8. Reclined Figure Four | 5 – 10 breaths per side

This pose stretches the piriformis, glutes, and lower back, and relieves tension in the muscles surrounding the lower back.

  1.    Start on your back the same way that you did for bridge pose.
  2.    This time, put your right ankle on top of your left knee, making sure the foot completely clears the knee.
  3.    Flex your right foot and gently press your right thigh away from you.
  4.    If that feels ok and you want to go deeper, thread your right hand through the center of your legs and bring your left hand to meet it on the back of your left thigh.
  5.    Then, lift your left leg to a 90-degree angle, drawing your figure four shape toward your chest.
  6.    Hold for 5-10 breaths then gently release and switch sides.

9. Reclined Cobbler’s Pose | 10 breaths

This is a nice and relaxing stretch for the hips and the groin area.

  1.    Lie on your back.
  2.    Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees open out to the sides.
  3.    If your hips feel tight, place a block under each knee for support.
  4.    Hold this pose for at least 10 breaths, then very gently bring the knees back together.

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