5 fab hip opening postures

Our hips are a very important part of an overall healthy alignment. Many a knee or back complaint is actually a result of tight muscles surrounding the hip. Especially for those of us who are stuck at a desk all day, it's important to pay attention to the hip muscles, which often shorten and tighten from being in the contracted position for far too many hours.

Take a gander at a few of my favorite hip opening poses below and give the names a click for Yoga Journal's specific how-to. (The tips below just include the most common mistakes and modifications) Practice them carefully and mindfully, breathing deeply and being sure to not overstretch.
5 fab hip opening postures : wholehearter
5 fab hip opening yoga postures

1.) Stacked Log - This one can be uncomfortable or too deep for some, so pay attention. Make sure that the top ankle is out over past the bottom knee. Both sets of toes should remain flexed toward the shins and if your hips are tight, tuck the bottom foot in a bit. For more, fold forward, leading with the chest. For less, don't do it.

2.) Reclined Cobblers Pose - Let everything really relax here. It should feel great, but if it's too much, prop the knees up a bit with blocks or blankets. Hands can rest on the inner thighs like little weights, stretch up overhead, or take one hand to the ches and one to the belly to notice your breath.

3.) Dead Bug - Allow the knees come out as wide as they can, soles of the feet reaching up. For more, press the feet down with the hands, knees toward the armpits. For less, use a strap or a towel to hold the feet in the air. Wherever you are, be sure to press the navel down toward the mat, flattening out the lower back. From there, you may gently rock from left to right for Happy Baby Pose. 

4.) Low Lunge - Make sure that the knee is stacked over the ankle, not past the ankle. (You should be able to see your toes) If you need more, walk the back foot toward the back of your mat. If the grounded knee is sensitive, roll your mat or place a folded blanket underneath for support, or go eat a snack.

5.) Lizard Pose - The knee should be over the ankle again, here. You'll get more from it and protect the knee joint if you keep it that way. Don't worry about coming down far enough to make this look like you're in Cirque du Soleil, but do stop whenever you feel a nice, deep stretch. Keep the shoulders and neck relaxed wherever you are.

Stay tuned for a full breakdown on the glorious and infamous Pigeon Pose, which is also a huge hip-crowd-pleaser, but deserves its own post for those of you who think you hate it. Keep yoga-ing!