Healthy Hips

Hip opening workshops are some of the most popular events in the yoga sphere.

They shouldn’t be.

Never-ending pigeons, long-held frogs, and the constant striving to touch chest to floor in wide-legged seated forward fold, are forcing our hips beyond their natural range of motion. This can cause wear and tear on the joints, and is especially dangerous when combined with hypermobility. The increase in hip replacement surgeries for long-time yogis—including my own—should give us all pause about how we address our hips in our practice.

All we need is for our hips to be “open” enough to allow us to comfortably perform daily tasks without pain and restriction. There is no need for them to act as the gateway to stretching a foot behind our head or even folding into full Lotus pose.

The best way to achieve healthy hips is to stabilize them, not constantly stretch them. Hips receive stability from strong thighs, butts and lower backs. We need to strengthen our rotators and flexors, not just stretch them. And, yes, we must strengthen our PSOAS even if it is tight. Tight hip flexors do not necessarily equal strong hip flexors.

Other Yoga poses that promote healthy, stable hips include:

  • Anything on one leg,
  • Bridge pose with glutes engaged,
  • Chair pose,
  • Low and high lunges,
  • Warrior 2 with thighs and glutes engaged,
  • Flows that emphasize strength—moving in and out of Warrior 3, moving in and out of squats or chair pose, and
  • Locust pose.

Theresa Conroy is a Certified Yoga Therapist with a Yoga Therapy studio just outside Philadelphia. She also trains and mentors Yoga instructors and Therapists, and is the creator of the online training, Teaching Yoga for Parkinson’s Disease. More about Theresa at

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