5 Yoga Poses for Hip Joint Health

A Yogi practicing Half Moon Pose to create mobility and strength for optimal hip health.

The hip joints are both mobile and stable, which allows us to move freely through various ranges of motion in all directions, but also to be secure enough to stand on and walk around on all day. 

Where the femur (thigh bone) meets the acetabulum (hip socket), is a ball-and-socket joint. This configuration allows for lots of range of motion. But because the femur sits very deeply inside the hip socket, the hip joints inherently have incredible stability. 

There’s always a delicate balance needed in the body to maintain optimal joint health. The hips need both mobility and stability. So it’s wise to stretch and strengthen all angles of the joint surface to find optimal health. And luckily, there are many yoga poses for hips that can help optimize hip joint health.

Practice These 5 Yoga Poses Hip for Joint Health

Movement truly is medicine, so move your hips through their full range of motion while simultaneously strengthening in these five yoga postures. 

How to practice Boat Pose a yoga pose for hip health

1. Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)

Boat Pose actively draws the hips into flexion against the downward push of gravity and requires the adductors to hug the legs into the midline, strengthening all of these hip muscles significantly.

  1. Start seated with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Catch hold behind your thighs, just above your knees, and actively squeeze your legs toward each other.
  3. Root your sitting bones into the floor and stretch the crown of your head toward the sky.
  4. Lean your torso back slightly to find your balance to float your feet off the floor.
  5. Draw your shins parallel to the mat and activate your feet.
  6. Maintain length in your back body as you reach your chest forward toward your thighs.
  7. Option to release your hands and stretch them forward in front of you. 
  8. Option to straighten your legs toward the sky.
  9. Hold for a few deep breaths as you resist gravity to maintain the V shape in your body.

How to practice Bridge Pose a yoga pose for hip health

2. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

When it comes to yoga poses for hips, we often think about stretchy shapes. But active strengthening poses are just as important for hip joint health. Bridge Pose actively draws the hips into extension, strengthening the whole posterior chain.

  1. Start lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, roughly hips-distance apart.
  2. Relax your arms by your sides with your palms facing the floor.
  3. Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels and press your lower back into the floor.
  4. Without movement, energetically squeeze your legs together.
  5. Root firmly against both feet and lift your hips up away from the floor.
  6. Keep reaching your tailbone toward your heels as you lift.
  7. Hold for a few deep breaths as you resist the weight of your pelvis up against gravity before slowly releasing back down.

A Yogi practicing Half Moon Pose to create mobility and strength for optimal hip health.

3. Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

Half Moon Pose is another one of the great strengthening yoga poses for hips. This one-legged balance posture requires both hip joints to work strongly to stabilize the pelvis and the lifted leg to resist gravity as it abducts up.

  1. Start in a Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II) stance with your right leg forward.
  2. Draw your left hand to your hip and reach your right arm forward toward the top of your mat. Option to rest your right hand onto a prop such as a yoga block or chair seat in the top right corner of your mat, onto fingertips or the floor in the top right corner of your mat, or to let it hover above the floor.
  3. Lean the weight of your torso forward and shift your weight into your right leg to become light on your left foot.
  4. When you feel steady, float your left leg off the floor and immediately energize it. Kick out strongly through your left foot with more force than you think you should.
  5. Elongate the crown of your head forward and lengthen your whole back body.
  6. Float your left leg up as high as you comfortably can—maybe to the height of your hip.
  7. Actively root down into your standing leg and lift the weight of your torso up away from the floor as if drawing your pelvis up away from your hip socket.
  8. Feel the stability and strength in both hips as you hold for a few deep breaths. Slowly release and switch sides.

How to practice yoga's Fiqure 4 Pose for happy, healthy hips.

4. Figure 4 Stretch (Supta Ardha Padmasana) for Hip Joint Health

Yoga poses for hips usually bring to mind stretchy seated postures that work deep into the hip rotators. And these postures are equally important for balancing the hip joints! This simple Figure 4 Stretch moves the hips into external rotation and deep flexion for a juicy stretch deep within the hips.

  1. Start lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor roughly hip distance apart.
  2. Bend your right knee deeply and lift your foot off the floor.
  3. Turn your knee toward the right so that you can cross your right ankle over your left knee in a figure 4 shape.
  4. Option to stay here or to lift your left foot off the floor and either hold a strap or interlace your fingers behind your left thigh.
  5. Gently draw your legs closer toward your body to increase the flexion in your hips.
  6. Simultaneously, use the strength of your right hip to draw your right knee away from your body into deeper external rotation.
  7. Play with the delicate balance of push and pull in this shape to find the optimal stretch for yourself.
  8. Hold for a few long, deep breaths before switching sides.

 A woman practicing Bound Angle Pose to create both flexible and stable hips.

5. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Bound Angle Pose is another classic hip opener, this time focusing on the inner thighs. You can use gravity to your advantage in this shape and use your own body positioning to regulate the depth of the stretch.

  1. Start seated on your mat. Option to elevate your hips onto any props that enable you to elongate your spine.
  2. Draw the soles of your feet to touch and open your knees out wide. Option to slide your heels as far away or as close to your pelvis as you’d like.
  3. Reach your fingertips behind your hips and root them firmly into the floor. 
  4. Elongate your spine as you ground your sitting bones down and stretch the crown of your head toward the sky. Notice how this subtle movement gently tips your pelvic bowl forward in space.
  5. Option to stay as you are or, keep this tipping of your pelvis as you hinge from your hips and fold your torso forward and down over your legs.
  6. Option to place your forearms against your inner thighs and use the leverage of your body weight to apply more gentle downward pressure in the stretch. Option to also resist that downward push by pressing your inner thighs back up against your arms. You may notice your pelvis tilting back as you apply downward pressure on the legs. If this happens, it’s best to back off and not practice this variation.
  7. Continue to elongate your spine as you release into the stretch and hold for a few long, deep breaths.

Practice Various Yoga Poses for Optimal Hip Joint Health

The hips are incredibly mobile joints, and they love to be moved in all directions to maintain that mobility. But they’re also very stable joints and love to be challenged in various shapes and patterns to maintain their strength.

So give your hips all they want by finding a balance between strengthening and stretching that keeps them in optimal hip joint health.

Leah Sugerman, E-RYT 500, YACEP, yoga writer

Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless schools and traditions of the practice. She teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings, both internationally and online. For more information, visit www.leahsugerman.com.

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