5 Yoga Poses to Strengthen Your Hips
Add these moves to your routine to improve mobility, prevent falls, and stay independent.
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Strong hips are crucial for safe, injury-free movement. And yoga is the perfect low-impact workout to help build both strength and stability in those muscles.
That’s why we asked 2017 SilverSneakers Instructor of the Year Terecita “Ti” Blair to share the very best poses for improving hip strength. And she delivered. The five poses below train the muscles in your hips and thighs while also opening the back of your calves to help you improve mobility, prevent falls, and stay independent.
For best results, do these poses two to three times per week. If you choose to perform the poses back to back, return to mountain pose between each one. If you choose to do the poses individually, warm up your body by performing mountain pose beforehand. (Need a refresher on mountain pose? Check out this guide to five yoga poses every older adult should know.)
Ready to get started? Here’s your step-by-step guide. As always, safety is key. The yoga poses here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis), balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about safe exercise. And if you’re a beginner, be sure to check out the tips to make each move easier.
1. Warrior One
This pose improves lower-body strength and flexibility.
How to do it: Stand in mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart and feet, knees, and hips facing forward. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down, and place hands on your hips. Step back with your right foot, and turn your toes out at a 45-degree angle with your foot flat on the floor.
From here, bend your left (front) knee to lower your body into the pose as far as you comfortably can—stop if you feel any pain. Draw your low belly in and up, lift your chest, and square your hips forward. Breathe here for three to five breaths. Return to mountain pose, and repeat on the other side.
Make it easier: Widen your feet for more stability.
Make it harder: Lift your arms straight up to the sky as you hold the pose.
Pyramid pose stretches your hamstrings and butt muscles while also challenging your balance.
How to do it: Stand in mountain pose with your feet, knees, and hips facing forward. Step your right foot back about two feet away from your left foot. Keep your hips and feet facing forward, and your legs straight. Engage your low belly, lift your chest, place your hands on your hips, and bring your elbows slightly behind you. Breathe in and stand tall.
As you breathe out, hinge forward at your hips, keeping your spine neutral and going as low as you comfortably can. Breathe here for three to five breaths. Return to mountain pose, and repeat on the other side.
Make it easier: Hold onto the back of a chair or a table for support.
Make it harder: Reach one or both arms forward while holding the hip hinge.
3. Side Angle
This pose does a lot: It strengthens and improves flexibility in your lower body, core, and spinal stabilizers while stretching the side of your body.
How to do it: Stand with your feet about three feet apart. Turn your left toes forward, perpendicular to your right foot. Bend your left knee, root down through both feet, and raise your arms out to the sides with fingertips spread.
Keeping your hips steady, reach your torso forward, and draw your left arm in toward your body. Place your left forearm on your left thigh, keeping your fingertips spread as if holding a tray. Reach your right arm up and over, keeping your low belly engaged.
From here, turn your chest up toward the sky, reaching long from your fingertips to your back foot—stretching your entire right side. Breathe here for three to five breaths. Slowly reverse the movement to return to standing, and repeat on the other side.
Make it easier: Instead of placing your arm on your thigh, hold onto the back of a chair.
Make it harder: Instead of placing your arm on your thigh, straighten both arms as if holding a beach ball.
4. Balancing Chair
As the name implies, this post improves balance, and it also strengthens hips and hones focus—all of which help prevent falls.
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How to do it: Stand in mountain pose with your feet, knees, and hips facing forward. Sit your hips back as if sitting over a chair. Bring your weight into your heels, then reach your arms forward for counterbalance. When you feel steady, lift your heels. Breathe here for three to five breaths.
Make it easier: Only lift one heel at a time, or practice with a chair underneath your butt to catch you if you lose your balance. Still too difficult? Practice regular chair pose to build strength and confidence.
Make it harder: Lift your arms up to the sky or behind you.
5. Standing Half Moon
This pose improves balance and stability. Like side angle, you’ll also work the side of your body.
How to do it: Stand in mountain pose with your feet, knees, and hips facing forward. Separate your feet two to three feet apart with toes facing forward, and place your hands on your hips. Slowly start to tip your weight into your left leg, keeping your right leg straight with your right foot flexed. Keep tipping, allowing your right leg to lift parallel to the floor or as high as you comfortably can.
When you feel ready, straighten your left arm toward the floor. Breathe here for three to five breaths. Slowly reverse the movement to return to mountain pose, and repeat on the other side.
Make it easier: Instead of straightening your arm toward the floor, hold onto the back of a chair. Keep your other hand on your hip.
Make it harder: Instead of keeping your hand on your hip, lift your arm up toward the sky. Still too easy? Turn your gaze up toward the sky.
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