Women hold a lot of their stress in two places. First, is the obvious area of our shoulders muscles. We tighten them in times of anxiety and stress them while hunched over a computer all day. The second is our hips. The hips become tight from sitting at a desk, and running, biking and other exercises keep this area closed up. The following four moves will open up your hips and allow you to move more fluidly and with less pain.
The Wide Squat
This is one of the best ways to release tension in your hips. Everyone can do it and it is the perfect position to start off the hip opening sequence.
Squat down into a crouch. Let your bottom hover a few inches above the floor and your upper body and arms relax and extend out in front of you. This releases your torso. Breathe in and out five times and release.
The Prayer Squat
This moderate to intense move really opens up those hip flexors. Hold it for as long as is comfortable and adjust the distance between your feet to adjust level of intensity.
Slowly squat down between your legs so your butt is nearly at the floor. Place your hands in the center of your chest in a prayer position and use your elbows to push your inner thighs out. This will open up the hips. Keep your chest upright and hold this post for a few minutes.
Every time I do this move after a run I am brought back to my days spent in a ballet studio. It was the best stretch to increase our hip flexibility.
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet pressed together. Your knees should be out wide and pointing outwards. Slowly relax your upper body over your legs and sink into this position as much as possible. Hold for a few breaths.
It is best to save the Pigeon pose for right after the Butterfly. This stretch opens up the hips one side at a time and feels great after a long run or bike ride.
From Butterfly position, bring your right leg behind you, fully extended and move your left heel towards your right hip. Extend your upper body out over your left knee. Breathe into this pose and feel your upper body sink into the floor as much as possible. The more you let go while breathing the deeper the opening of the hips becomes. Slowly move into this pose for the opposite leg.