When we open our hips we restore our reproductive organs, which at a base level represent the original creative force driving existence. Through creating balance in these chakras we can become grounded, comfortable within our own identity, and inherently creative.
By physically rooting our pelvic floor and the base of our spine into the Earth, we plug ourselves into the vibrational current of the planet.
Hip Openers powerfully stimulate and balance the muladhara, or root and svadisthana, or sacral chakras.
Before you practice this sequence, sit in a meditative position and meditate on something you would like to let go of that you feel prevents you from expressing yourself fully. Do a few Chandra Namaskaras, or moon salutations of your choosing such as Shiva Rea’s Chandra Namaskara (look up “Moon Shine with Shiva Rea: Yoga at Home from Yoga Journal” on YouTube for a great demo of this sequence). Focus on mindful long deep breaths.
10 Hip Opening Yoga Poses to Open Your Sacral Chakra
1. Seated Hip Circles:
Sit in a cross-legged position and grab your knees with your hands. Slowly rotate your hips and waist in a clockwise circle. Imagine that your navel is tracing as wide a circle around your seated center position as possible.Use your arms as leverage. Keep the movement slow and steady, breathing naturally but without trying to synchronize your breath with your movement. Breathe through your nose if you can. Continue this clockwise movement for twenty to thirty seconds. Now reverse the direction and begin in a counter clockwise direction, for another twenty to thirty seconds.
- Downward Dog with Hip Circles (Adho Mukha Svanasana):
On a deep exhale, the hips are pushed toward the ceiling, the body forming an inverted V-shape. The back is straight with the front ribs tucked in. The legs are straight with the heels reaching to the floor. The hands are open like starfish, keeping the forefinger and thumb pressing down on the floor/mat. The arms are straight, with the inner elbows turning towards the ceiling. If one has the tendency to hyper extend elbows, keeping a microbend to the elbows prevents taking the weight in the joints. Turning the elbows up towards the ceiling will engage the triceps and build strength. The shoulders are wide and relaxed. Line up the ears with the inner arms which keeps the neck lengthened. The hands are shoulder width apart and feet remain hip-width apart. If the hamstrings are very strong or tight, the knees are bent to allow the spine to lengthen fully. The navel is drawn in towards the spine, keeping the core engaged. Raise your right leg and then slowly create large circles using your whole leg. Repeat 3-5 times forward, reverse direction 3-5 times backward. Slowly lower leg. Release and switch sides. Repeat the same on the left leg.
- Goddess Squat (Utkata Konasana):
Bring your hands to rest comfortably on your hips. Turn to the right and step your feet wide apart, about four feet. Turn your toes out slightly, so they point to the corners of your mat. On an exhalation, bend your knees directly over your toes and lower your hips into a squat. Work toward bringing your thighs parallel to the floor, but do not force yourself into the squat. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder-height with your palms facing down. Then, spiral your thumbs up toward the ceiling, so your palms face forward. Bend your elbows and point your fingertips toward the ceiling; your upper arms and forearms should be at a 90-degree angle. Tuck your tailbone in slightly and press your hips forward as you draw your thighs back. Keep your knees in line with your toes. Soften your shoulders. Gaze softly at the horizon.
Hold for up to 10 breaths. To release, slowly return your hands to your hips. Keeping your spine upright, inhale as you press firmly into your feet and straighten your legs.
- Goddess Squat with Lateral Stretches (fluid movement):
From your Goddess Squat, slowly press your left elbow to your left knee bringing your right arm over your head for a nice lateral stretch. Hold for one breathe and then gently switch sides. Repeat on each side 5 – 10 times.
5. Frog Pose (Mandukasana):
Love it or leave it, this is adductor heaven, or hell. From Wheel of Life twist, come onto hands and knees. Keeping your knees bent at a right angle, begin to open them out to each side.
Keep the heels in alignment with the knees and flex the feet gently. Keep the pelvis in alignment with the knees, the tendency is to come too far forward with the pelvis, if in doubt, rock the seat back a bit.
Attempt to get the knees wider than the outside of the mat. If you are comfortable release the forearms to the floor, keep pulling the front ribs up towards the spine and breathe. If you are very open in your adductors you can rest your stomach on the floor. Hold for one to five minutes. To release, gently walk the hands forward, and come onto the stomach. You might rock the hips side to side to release them.
- Cobra (Bhujangasana):
A must after Frog Pose! From prone (on the stomach) position, place the hands under the shoulders, press the tops of the feet into the floor. Inhale, leading with the heart, curl the upper body away from the floor, elongating the crown of the head up and possibly back.
Pull the upper arm bones back and counter this by lifting the chest forward and up. Without moving the hands, energetically draw them back towards the hips. Notice how this propels your heart center up towards the ceiling. Keep the buttocks soft by activating your root lock (mula bandha) and gently pulling the navel in and up. Hold for ten breaths. Find Downward Facing Dog.
7. Standing Wide Angle Forward Bend Clearing (Prasarita Padottanasana Kriya):
From Downward Facing Dog, frog leap your feet around your hands. Open the feet so they are about 3 1/2-4 ft. apart. Let the toes point straight ahead and rock a little more weight into the heels. Keeping the weight in the heels, walk your hands forward as far as you are able to, so that your upper body mirrors Downward Facing Dog. Root your fingertips into the floor and notice how this allows you to engage your shoulder blades and draw them towards the spine gently.
With an exhale, keep the arms and legs in place and bend your knees, sinking the hips towards the floor, track the knees open, keeping the over the heels as much as possible. With an inhale, straighten the legs and return to the original position. Repeat five times. You may hold the positions as well after pulsing for ten breaths each. When complete, take a Vinyasa back into Downward Facing Dog.
8. Camel (Ustrasana):
Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Rotate your thighs inward slightly, narrow your hip points, and firm but don’t harden your buttocks. Imagine that you’re drawing your sitting bones up, into your torso. Keep your outer hips as soft as possible. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into floor.
Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, bases of the palms on the tops of the buttocks, fingers pointing down. Use your hands to spread the back pelvis and lengthen it down through your tail bone. Then lightly firm the tail forward, toward the pubis. Make sure though that your front groins don’t “puff” forward. To prevent this, press your front thighs back, countering the forward action of your tail. Inhale and lift your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs.
Now lean back against the firmness of the tail bone and shoulder blades. For the time being keep your head up, chin near the sternum, and your hands on the pelvis. Beginners probably won’t be able to drop straight back into this pose, touching the hands to the feet simultaneously while keeping the thighs perpendicular to the floor. If you need to, tilt the thighs back a little from the perpendicular and minimally twist to one side to get one hand on the same-side foot. Then press your thighs back to perpendicular, turn your torso back to neutral, and touch the second hand to its foot. If you’re not able to touch your feet without compressing your lower back, turn your toes under and elevate your heels.
See that your lower front ribs aren’t protruding sharply toward the ceiling, which hardens the belly and compresses the lower back. Release the front ribs and lift the front of the pelvis up, toward the ribs. Then lift the lower back ribs away from the pelvis to keep the lower spine as long as possible. Press your palms firmly against your soles (or heels), with the bases of the palms on the heels and the fingers pointing toward the toes. Turn your arms outwardly so the elbow creases face forward, without squeezing the shoulder blades together. You can keep your neck in a relatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. But be careful not to strain your neck and harden your throat.
Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. To exit, bring your hands onto the front of your pelvis, at the hip points. Inhale and lift the head and torso up by pushing the hip points down, toward the floor. If your head is back, lead with your heart to come up, not by jutting the chin toward the ceiling and leading with your brain. Rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths.
9. Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana):
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, raising your pelvis on a blanket if your hips or groins are tight. Exhale, bend your knees, pull your heels toward your pelvis, then drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together.
Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you comfortably can. With the first and second finger and thumb, grasp the big toe of each foot. Always keep the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor. If it isn’t possible to hold the toes, clasp each hand around the same-side ankle or shin.
10. Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall):
*sorry I don’t have a pic of this but I’m sure you can figure it out!
Set up your mat perpendicular to the wall, bring a bolster and two blankets with you. Place the bolster about six inches from the wall, so that the long end of the bolster is parallel to the wall. Roll the blanket up and place it where your neck will be once you are in the full position.
Sit on the bolster near the wall, and scoot one of your hips to the wall, so that you are sitting sideways to the wall.
Engage your core a bit as you lay down, and swing your legs up the wall, rolling onto your back so that the hips are near the wall, hanging off the edge of the bolster, the bolster is under the lower back. Adjust the blanket under your neck so you are supported as you lay on the floor.
Place the soles of your feet together, allowing the knees to fall open to each side, like Baddha Konasana. Use whatever leg variation feels most relaxing to you. Hold for five minutes. Roll off onto your side and sprawl into Savasana when you are ready.
If you’d like to follow along with a video for this sequence, you can see it here:
Mia Lockhart, Massage Therapist & Yoga Teacher
Yoga Types: Vinyasa, Hatha, Chakra, Power Core
Training Certifications: Canadian Yoga Alliance 200 Hours Hatha-Vinyasa, Registered Massage Therapist ACTMD.
What can students expect from your class? Mia teaches with a deep passion for helping others on their healing journey, whether that is physical, emotional or spiritual. Her classes include breathwork, strength building poses and flows, meditation, anatomical focus, powerful hands on adjustments and a long sweet savasana to help you drop in to a place of peace and rest.