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How Yoga Helps Release Tightness in Your Hips After Sitting

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

Sitting for long periods of time shortens and tightens the hip flexors, which can lead to pain and injury. These yoga poses will help open your hips and release tension.

According to Thrive My Way, the average person sits anywhere from 7-12 hours each day. If you work at a desk, drive a car or spend time relaxing on the couch (or do all three like me), you may be sitting for longer than you realize.

Sitting causes the hip flexors and hamstrings to shorten, which can lead to hip flexor tightness, increased pressure in the hip joint and pain in the lower back. Over time, this can lead to cartilage damage and a greater risk of falling. To help relieve tight hip flexors, the Mayo Clinic suggests taking a break from sitting every 30 minutes and adding movement into your day.

I started to notice tightness in my hips when I added running into my workout routine. After a couple miles, my hip flexors would become stiff and sore, slowing my pace and making me wince with each stride. I began incorporating more hip-opening poses into my warm up, cool down and yoga practice. I noticed my hip flexors didn’t feel as tight while running, my lower back wasn’t achy after work and my posture was more aligned.

Before leading a yoga class, I always check in with my students to understand what poses or areas of the body will be most beneficial to focus on. Hip-opening is almost always requested. I filmed a 25-minute yoga flow to help you release tension in your hips. Try it out during your next movement break or at the end of a long day. Make sure you are cleared by a doctor before exercising.

Tight on time? You can incorporate any of these poses individually into your day:

  • Body rolls: Take a cross-legged seat. You can sit up on a bolster or cushion to elevate your hips and maintain the natural curve in your spine. Move your torso in slow circles. Then reverse directions

  • Cat (marjariasana)/cow (bitilasana): From a table top position (bharmanasana), inhale to drop your belly, open up through your chest and extend your spine for cow pose (bitilasana). Exhale to round your spine and gently let your chin come toward your chest for cat pose (marjariasana). Repeat several times

  • Low lunge (anjaneyasana): From downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana), lift your right leg, bend your knee, shift forward and step your foot in between your hands. Lower your back knee to the mat. Reach your arms up over your head and hug your ribs in. Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths and then repeat on the second side

  • Lizard pose (utthan pristhasana): From low lunge (anjaneyasana), plant your palms on the mat. Walk your front foot outside of your hands to the edge of your mat. You can move your front leg in a small circle to lubricate the hip joint. Repeat in the other direction. You can also walk your hands about 6 inches in front and tap the elbows down with each exhale. Eventually, you can rest your forearms on the mat to deepen the stretch

  • Garland/squat pose (malasana): From lizard pose (utthan pristhasana), step your back leg forward and plant your foot outside your hand. Bring your hands to your heart and lengthen through your chest to avoid rounding your spine. Gently press your elbows into your inner thighs to deepen the hip stretch

  • Wide-legged forward fold (prasarita padottanasana): Stand with your feet spread wide and your toes turned in slightly. Fold forward and release tension in your neck. You can place your palms on blocks or the mat

  • Half pigeon/sleeping pigeon (ardha kapotasana): From downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana), lift your right leg up, bend your right knee, shift forward and move your right knee toward your right wrist. Lay the lower part of your leg on the mat with your right heel in front of your left hip. Position your shin between a 45 degree and 90 degree angle based on what feels most comfortable and spacious for your hip and knee. Extend your left leg straight back behind you and rest the top of your foot on the mat. You can stay on your palms or walk forward and rest on your forearms. Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths and repeat on the second side. Learn 3 ways to do pigeon pose here

  • Seated bound angle (baddha konasana): Take a seat and touch the soles of your feet together. Open your knees to the sides. You can hinge forward, walking your hands to your feet for a deeper stretch

These shapes may look and feel different each day for each student. In my own body, I have experienced an emotional release occasionally in hip-openers. The psoas, a hip flexor muscle, becomes tight when the body is under stress. The hips are also related to the sacral chakra, an energetic center for emotions, creativity and sexuality. As you loosen the hips, physical stress and emotions can be unlocked. You can read more about this in an article from Healthline here. If you notice an emotion arising in your yoga practice, label the emotion, take a few deep breaths and use your exhale to release the feeling.

I hope this yoga practice helps you find more comfort and space throughout your day. If you have questions, would like to learn more about these techniques or want to practice with me individually, send me a message on the contact form on the home page. I look forward to hearing from you!

With gratitude,


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