Hip Opening Series
Because of their anatomical position, hips are responsible for making the communication between the spine and the earth happen. Therefore it is upon us to keep our hips more open for the communication and stronger for the stabilty. Openness should always proceed the strengthening.
Hips can do 8 movements which are: flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, external rotation, internal rotation, traction and contraction. The first six are shown below and constitute the hip opening series. Traction is present in each of these 6 exercises. Contraction is the movement which closes the hip joint, rather than opens it. Therefore, it is not part of the hip opening series.
When doing these exercises, one should pay attention for the lower back or the knees not to hurt. If there is a pain in these two areas, the postures should be modified.
There are two movements of the hips that have powerful significance in asana practice: external and internal rotation; the other movements are here to help us with these two. Internal rotation brings the energy into the body; external rotation allows the body to express the pelvic energy.
This clip shows 6 poses which form the hip opening series (right leg only) as taught by Aadil Palkhivala, one of the most influential yoga teachers today, and Petra's teacher. This routine is beneficial for everyone except for the people who already had a hip replacement surgery (they need to modify it). When practised, alternate right and left side for each pose before moving onto the next one.
For beginners and people with stiffer hamstrings, use the belt in the first three exercises.
If you find the external rotation challenging, use a couple of blocks to prop the bottom knee so that there is a similar angle between each thigh and the floor. Use another block to push the top knee away from the front hip-bones (see below).