5 Beginner-Friendly Hip Opener Moves — And Why You Should Do Them

Say yes to improved range of motion and decreased back pain — it's all in the hips!


Amy Hopkins |

“I discovered vinyasa yoga in 2011 and it was love at first downdog,” says Lee-Ann Elliott, a yoga instructor at MyUTOPIA Yoga & Pilates Studio in Cape Town. She did her Teacher Training Certificate in 2015 and has been teaching ever since. “Yoga is not only a physical practise for me, it is a deeply healing practise, connecting me to my body and breath.”

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One thing Lee-Ann is very passionate about is the importance of hip openers. “I love teaching hip openers to help release stored up energy – we hold all of our emotional baggage in our hips.”

READ MORE: Warning Signs Your Hip Pain, Pinching Or Popping Is Cause For Concern

Why you should do hip openers

Runners and cyclists are notorious for tight hips. Tight hips and leg muscles pull your pelvis forward and roll your thighs outward – this can put more pressure on your knees and lower back. But it can cause problems in other areas of your body too – all the way to your shoulders. Essentially this means your risk of injury is quite high.

To understand more about the muscles, think of it like this: when you’re standing, the hip flexors lift your leg to step up. If you are lying on your back, the hip flexors can either lift your leg or lift your torso into a sit-up. Even if you happen to live a very sedentary lifestyle or you sit for the majority of the day, this can cause your hip flexors to shrink.

Here is a quick routine from Lee-Ann that you can use to work more on opening your tight hips. Repeat each move on the opposite side. Hold for 30 seconds or up to one minute.

READ MORE: Why You Should Include Hip Exercises In Every Workout

Hip Opener Move 1: Lunge

“Release hips to the ground and scissor hips open.”

Hip Opener Move 2: Half Splits

“Extend heart forward, feel deep stretch in glute. Point toes upwards with front foot.”

Hip Opener Move 3: 3-Legged Dog

“Keep bottom heel down and square off hips.”

Hip Opener Move 4: Half Pigeon

“Shin aligned to the short side of the mat (as much as possible).”

“Square off your hips.”

“Fold forward over your shin and extend arms out in front.”

Hip Opener Move 5: Mermaid

“Soft front knee. Back foot inside elbows, opposite arm reach, bind and gaze up.”

For more information on MyUTOPIA and the class schedule, click here. Or call +27 21 202 2271 or WhatsApp: +27 79 959 4491.

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