If you enjoy running or biking, be sure to incorporate these five yoga poses for tight hips from Jessica Bellofatto into your yoga practice to keep your body flexible and injury-free.
I am a firm believer in exercising outdoors as opposed to indoors as much as possible (and that includes my yoga practice). I love running trails or flying down a hill on my road bike with the wind in my hair. Like most of you though, the more I run and/or bike, the tighter my quads, hips, glutes, and hamstrings become. But of course, yoga can help with that. Here are 5 yoga poses for tight hips.
Runner’s Lunge Stretch
Start with your right foot forward and your left leg back in a basic lunge position. Release your back knee to the ground (use a double rolled mat or blanket for padding if necessary), and wiggle your front (right) foot slightly more to the right, placing both hands on the inside of the right leg. Start to bend the arms and if possible, lower the forearms to the ground (or to a yoga bolster or blocks). Release the head and neck, so the back is rounded and soft, the belly more hollow. Breathe into the opening of the left quads, and the right hip, inner thigh and groin. Stay up to one minute and switch sides.
Come into Downward Facing Dog for a few breaths and then take the right foot in towards the chest. Turn the right leg out and place the right knee behind the right wrist and the right foot behind the left wrist, setting yourself down into Pigeon. Very tight hips, take note: Instead of collapsing onto your right buttocks, compromising your alignment and losing out on this amazing stretch, prop something (folded blanket, bolster, block, couch pillow) underneath your right buttocks and square your hips forward. Then inhale and lift your chest; as you exhale walk your hands forward and fold out over your right leg, releasing your head to the floor if possible. Stay up to one minute or more and then rise up, press your hands into the floor and press back to downward facing dog, switching sides.
Lie down on your back and hug your knees tightly into your chest (great to release the lower back after any activity). Now reach up and grab the inner or outer feet (wrap a strap around the feet if you can not reach). Use the hands to pull down on the feet, while trying to keep your lower back and sacrum on the ground. You can also do this one leg at a time if the hips, inner thighs, and groins are especially tight. In that case, simply have the other leg bent, foot on the floor.
IT Band Relief
The iliotibial band (IT Band) runs from the upper outer thigh down the outer leg and attaches just below the knee to the tibia. When the IT band is tight, which often happens to runners, it can create knee pain, known as IT band syndrome. To stretch, lie on your back and hug your right knee into your chest. As you exhale, start to guide the right knee across the body into a twist. You can actually rub or massage the IT band in this position by simply using your hand and rubbing it along the outer thigh. Stay here for at least 10 breaths.
Thread the Needle
More hip, glute and external rotators relief! Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Extend your right leg up in the air and place the right foot across the left knee. Now bring the left knee into your chest, threading your arms around your left thigh and holding on to the back of your left thigh. As you draw your left knee closer in to your chest, allow the right knee to press away, feeling that deep external rotation deep inside the right hip. Stay 10 breaths (or longer) and then switch sides.
Related: Kristin McGee’s Runner’s Flow
About the Author
Jessica Bellofatto, founder and director of KamaDeva Yoga in East Hampton, Ny, is best known for her easy laughter, radiant energy, and matchless knowledge of the body. A mother, yogini, doula, surfer, triathlete, and avid stand up paddleboarder (and now SUP racer), Jessica has inspired thousands of students in their journey to better understand themselves and their world. A former dancer, Jessica teaches from a deep understanding of movement as art, movement as play, movement as therapy, and especially, movement as a spiritual practice. She is also interested in the stillness within and between the movement; the spaciousness of silence. Jessica teaches sold out yoga retreats around the world and is most happy outside, in nature, preferably wet.