Practice This Juicy Yin Yoga Sequence to Release Your Tight Hips

Yin Yoga For Hips feature

Let’s face it, most of us have tight hips. But luckily, Yin Yoga poses are an excellent resource to help release connective tissues in the hips.

The hip joints are a type of synovial joint known as a ball-and-socket. These joints connect the head of the femur or thigh bone (which is the ball) to the acetabulum of the pelvis or hip socket (which is, of course, the socket).

Want to learn more about the Yin practice? Read: What Is Yin Yoga and What Are the Most Common Benefits?

By design, the hip joints are built for stability. The femur sits deep within its socket and is designed for weight bearing. Due to its innate sense of stability, mobility and flexibility of the tissues surrounding the hip joint is not always a guarantee.

What Are the Benefits of Practicing Yin Yoga for Hips?

Yin Yoga, which aims to support, strengthen, and lengthen the layers of connective tissue that surround our joints may help to encourage mobility.

The practice of Yin Yoga includes two key concepts. The first is that unlike our more physical Vinyasa-style practices, Yin Yoga tends to be more still and introspective. Postures are often held anywhere from two to five minutes.

The second major factor that differentiates Yin Yoga from some of the more common physical yoga practices is that while we are holding the postures, there is little to no muscular involvement. The target area in the postures is our connective tissues and the energetic meridians of the body according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Curious about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)? Read: Qi, Meridians, Yin & Yang: An In-Depth Look at Acupuncture and TCM

Before You Start Practicing These Yin Yoga Poses, Read This:

There are a few points you should consider before beginning any Yin Yoga practice:

  • We are not looking to stretch beyond our range of motion. As practitioners, it’s important to listen to cues from our body finding the delicate balance between effort and ease
  • Use yoga props to support your body. Props are key to help the body soften and ease into the Yin Yoga poses, and settle into stillness
  • If you tend to be on the flexible side, back out of the postures to work on strengthening your connective tissue. The idea here is that when we back out of the posture we can actually encourage our connective tissue to lay down new fibroblasts (cells found in our connective tissue), which may – in turn – strengthen the support around the joint


Practice These 5 Yin Yoga Poses for Hips:

The following Yin Yoga poses are geared toward increasing mobility and hydration of the tissues surrounding the hip joints.

This practice is designed to encourage a sense of ease, openness, and release within all the angles of your hips.

1. Butterfly (AKA Bound Angle Pose)

butterfly pose

This yoga pose tends to target the inner thighs but you may also notice sensation in the outer hips. This is also a nice posture to relieve tension in your lower back.

Suggested Props: 1 blanket, 1 yoga bolster, 2 yoga blocks

Lets try it:

  • From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet to touch
  • Slowly begin to fold forward, slightly rounding your spine
  • It may be helpful to elevate your pelvis with a blanket if your knees are sitting way above your hips. Additionally, use the support of two blocks under your thighs to enable your upper legs to soften into the ground. You may also wish to support your head with a bolster
  • Stay for three to five minutes. Try not to fidget and really settle into stillness. Let your breath become an anchor into the present moment

Have lower back pain? Try these 6 Yin Yoga Poses for Back Pain (Video)

2. Dragon (AKA Lunge)

dragon pose

This posture is a deep hip and groin opener targeting right into the hip joint. This pose will stretch the hip flexor of the back leg, and the hip socket of the front leg. It may be beneficial for working with sciatica and low back tension.

Suggested Props: 2 yoga blocks, 1 to 2 yoga blankets

Lets try it:

  • From either Down Dog or all fours step one foot between your hands
  • Walk your foot forward until the knee of your front foot is directly over your ankle
  • Keep your hands on either side of the foot
  • Support your body to let gravity help you through the use of props. Place a blanket under the knee of your back leg. Roll up a blanket to be used as a kickstand for the thigh of your back leg. Use two blocks under your hands to drop into your breath
  • Use your exhalations to soften into the earth
  • Stay for three to five minutes
  • Switch to the second side


3. Shoelace (AKA Cow Face Pose)

shoelace pose

This posture is a great hip opener targeting the outer hips. It may also help to decompress tension around the sacrum and low back. This tends to be a pretty deep hip opener so props and modifications are highly encouraged.

Suggested Props: 1 blanket, 1 yoga bolster, 1 to 2 yoga blocks

Lets try it:

  • From all fours, cross one leg in front of the other so that your knees come in to touch, almost like a coat hanger
  • Take your feet wide on your mat
  • Slowly start to sit back between your feet
  • Adjust your pelvis by sitting up on a blanket or a block. Allow your sit bones to feel as though they could ground down into the earth
  • If there is too much tension in the hips, try extending your bottom leg straight
  • Stay seated upright or, if it feels comfortable, try folding forward or resting your head on a bolster
  • Stay for three minutes
  • Switch to the second side


4. Sleeping Swan (AKA Pigeon Pose)

sleeping swan pose

This is a great way to open the external rotators of the hip, including the piriformis muscles (which are often a culprit for sciatica pain). Working with gravity, stillness, and breath can help to hydrate the tissues surrounding these muscles.

Suggested Props: 1 blanket, 1 yoga bolster

Lets try it:

  • From Down Dog or all fours, take your right leg forward bending your knee toward your right hand. The leg should land on the floor at a slight angle with the knee pointing roughly toward the angle of two or three o’clock
  • Keep your hands on the floor and take a moment upright to settle into your breath
  • If your right hip is lifting off the floor, tuck a blanket under your hip
  • If it feels comfortable, let your torso lower toward the earth either with your forearms on the ground, with your torso resting on a bolster, or resting your whole body flat toward the ground
  • Stay for three to five minutes
  • Repeat on the second side


Note: If you are experiencing any pain, especially in the knee joint in this pose, lie on your back in a Supine Figure-4 shape with your right ankle crossing over your left thigh.

Supine Figure 4 pose



5. Savasana (AKA Corpse Pose)

savasana pose

Ahh Savasana, the ultimate elixir. After a deep practice in the hips, it’s important to let the body land flat onto the ground and rest deeply.

Suggested Props: optional blanket and bolster

Lets try it:

  • Lie down flat on your back
  • Support your body with props for added comfort
  • Stay for five to 10 minutes
  • Rest deeply


Yin Yoga for Hips: The Takeaway

The effects of a Yin practice can last for days as your bodies’ connective tissues unwind and adapt. Take notice how you feel after the practice and in the days post-practice. And remember to hydrate!

Just like a massage, Yin Yoga is a deep release of toxins and holding patterns in the body. So, nourish your body well.

Still have Tight Hips? Practice These 5 Hip Opening Yoga Poses to Melt Away Hip Pain

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