7 YOGA POSES FOR HIP STRENGTH
Updated: Apr 16
all this extra sitting that's been going on lately has my hips feelin' a way, you with me?
It's no secret that sitting for an extended period of time can have some pretty detrimental effects on our entire body; one of which being decreased overall hip strength due to muscle imbalances from being in one position for too long. when our hips start to weaken, we can begin to notice that other parts of our body start to get bothersome; from our lower backs to our knees.
with us being confined to our homes, we may not have equipment like dumbbells, weights, etc. to be able to build strength in a traditional sense but, that's where yoga can be a valuable tool to have in your back pocket. yoga is filled with poses and postures that build strength and endurance to help keep your body resilient. the beauty of it all is that you don't need any fancy equipment!
yoga uses your body to heal your body.
so I wanted to leave you with a few yoga poses--some of which I added a touch of challenge to--that strengthen your hips, thereby potentially keeping those aches from prolonged sitting at bay.
active low lunge (with side bend)
first and foremost, we have to begin by opening up our hip flexors. but instead of getting into a lunge position and just leaning into it as far as you can go, let's make it active.
start by getting in a half kneeling/lunge position.
from here, engage your core and pelvic floor by drawing your belly button towards your spine, slightly tucking your pelvis under you--like you're trying to take the arch out of your lower back--and, intentionally engaging your inner thighs (think scissoring your legs together).
then, lightly squeeze your glute on the knee down side.
at this point, you should already be feeling a stretch in the front of your hip of the kneeling side.
while keeping all of this engagement, let's take it a step further by reaching your arms overhead and taking a hold of the wrist on the knee down side and reaching up and over to the opposite side.
hold for 5-7 deep breaths and then switch sides and repeat.
single leg bridge (with weight shift)
now that our hip flexors are open, let's start building some strength.
the glute bridge is one of the best hip strengthening exercises around, and one of the simplest ways to up the challenge is to make it single leg, extend your arms overhead, and/or shift the weight from one part of your foot to the other.
to set up, start on your back with your knees bent and feet hip distance apart.
activate your core by drawing your belly button to your spine and tucking your pelvis to flatten your lower back to the ground.
while keeping this, start to squeeze your glutes to raise your hips off the ground.
only go as high as you can by JUST SQUEEZING YOUR GLUTES, don't arch through your back!
option to keep your hands by your sides or, raise them overhead.
from here, raise one leg towards the sky, making sure to keep your hips even; don't allow them to drop.
shift all your weight to your heel and hold for 3-5 breaths, then shift your weight to the ball of your foot and hold for another 3-5 breaths.
lower and switch sides.
bird dog (with crunch)
this pose not only builds strength through the hip of the extended leg, but adds a balance component and core engagement, both of which are needed to help keep our hips stable and healthy.
start on all fours.
extend one arm forward and the opposite leg back.
make sure to be really active through both your arm and leg as you extend in opposite directions; as if two lines of energy are pulling you in each direction.
staying engaged in your core through the whole movement, take an inhale as you're extended and as you exhale, curl in to bring your knee and elbow to touch.
repeat for 10 breath cycles and then switch sides.
chair pose (with alternating leg lift)
one of the most common leg strengtheners in yoga, with a balance twist!
start standing with your feet together.
as you sit back into a mini squat extend your arms overhead (think biceps next to your ears).
same as with every posture, engage through your core by drawing belly button to spine and tucking your pelvis to eliminate the arch from your lower back as best you can.
make sure the majority of your weight is in your heels so that if you tried to lift your toes off the ground, you could.
squeeze your legs together to engage your inner thighs and, make sure to squeeze both glutes.
if this is enough, you can stay here for 5-7 breaths and then stand up.
if you want to add some extra stability--and burn--with control, shift all your weight to one foot and bring your other foot to a hover while keeping your hips low.
hold here for 3-5 breaths and switch sides.
you can alternate for 5-10 rounds.
high lunge (with lean)
from chair pose, step one foot back so you're in a lunge position.
making sure your hips are square to the front of your mat (or the wall in front of you) by pulling the hip of your front leg back, and the hip of your back leg forward.
stay on your toes of your back leg and keep your back leg strong and straight.
make sure your knee does not pass over your toes on your front leg!
extend your arms overhead as you inhale; as you exhale, lean your torso forward while reaching your arms behind you.
continue to pull the hip of your front leg back to stay engaged through your glutes.
inhale, rise back up to your high lunge with your arms overhead.
flow back and forth between those two positions, following your breath, for 5-10 cycles before switching sides.
now to REALLY challenge your balance and create stability through your hip!
from high lunge, lean and reach until you lift your back toes off the ground and you're only balancing on your front foot.
bring your hands to heart center and keep your gaze in one spot to help you balance.
make sure your hips and shoulders are square to the ground by keeping your hovering toes pointed downward to prevent you twisting open to one side.
actively push into the ground with your standing leg to engage your hip but at the same time, be just as active and intentional with your hovering leg; as if you're pushing into a wall behind you with your heel.
and remember, engage through your core!
hold for 5 breaths before switching sides.
shiva squat (supported or unsupported)
from warrior 3, you can bring your finger tips to the ground if you need added support for this, or keep your hands at heart center.
keeping your standing foot completely flat on the ground, and the weight in your heel, take an inhale as you send your hips back to squat down and tap the knee of your hovering leg on the calf of your standing leg.
make sure stay long through your spine (not rounded), and your knee does not pass over your toes as you squat down!
exhale as you stand back up through warrior 3 (hands at heart center or finger tips on the ground for more support).
repeat for 10 breath cycles before switching sides.
come back to warrior 3.
from here, keep the foot and knee of your standing leg facing forward.
bring your finger tips of the same side of your standing leg to the ground and rotate your torso to the opposite side, so if you're balancing on your left side, your left finger tips will be down and, your torso will be facing the right.
stay long through your spine and don't compress or crunch through your side.
If it's difficult to do, place a block or a few books under your hand to add some support and length.
keep pushing through your standing leg to engage your hip while simultaneously pressing your back heel away to stay active through your hovering leg as well (think of that same wall you're pushing away in warrior 3).
hold for 5 breaths before gently unwinding by coming through warrior 3 again and switching sides.
thank so much for reading today, I hope you found this post helpful if your hips have been in need of a good burn to build strength and stability from sitting more often than we're used to from being in the house all day. feel free to hit me up if you have any questions.
p.s. check out this older post if you're in need of some full body yoga inspired mobility to open up prior to going through this strengthening sequence.