8 yoga poses for narrow hips

July 3, 2023 0 Comments

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The hips don’t lie, especially when you practice poses with your legs wide apart. But these tips will help you adapt the asanas to your anatomy

By now, we’ve pretty much settled on this fact: yoga for every body. But not all bodies are the same. Your body is built around your unique anatomical scaffolding. And it can affect your practice.

One example is differences in the shape of the pelvis. Thomas Myers, a seasoned yoga teacher and author of Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Chiropractors and Movement Professionals, explains that if you were born in a female body, your hips tend to be slightly further apart to allow for birth. child

“Of course there are thin-hipped women and wide men,” he says, cautioning against gender stereotypes. In any case, people with narrow hips may find poses with wide legs more difficult. “Anything that requires a lot of leg spread is going to be more problematic.”

That’s not to say that people with narrow hips can’t or shouldn’t try poses like Goddess Pose and Upavishtha Konasana (Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend). “[We] may have to work a little harder,” he says. “We all need it. We just don’t get there that fast.”

Work with narrow hips

When we talk about wide or narrow hips, we’re not talking about your extreme curves. The actual width of your hips is determined by the distance between the points of your hips. (Anatomically known as the anterior superior iliac spine, these are the edges of the pelvic bone that appear to protrude forward just above the hips.) The distance will vary from person to person.

People also have different anatomical differences in their pelvis that can affect how easily they can practice wide leg pose. However, practicing yoga doesn’t have to require you to challenge your anatomy. Instead, train to work within your body’s parameters. Myers suggests that yoga teachers who have people with narrow hips in their classes “make them loose because they won’t be able to open their knees as wide.” Focus more on how the pose feels in your body than on how the form looks.

This means that Prasarita Padottanasana (Standing Wide Leg Forward Bend), for example, may not be as wide or as low as you are often taught. You can look a little “taller” because the narrower angle of your legs means your upper body will be further from the floor. People with narrow hips may feel more supported when the blocks are set high under the arms.

If wide-legged poses are difficult for you, practice deliberately and take a gentle, gradual approach. As with any asana practice, avoid overstretching the muscles and ligaments. Respect your natural anatomical differences and stretch without pain.

Practicing yoga with legs apart

Some wide-legged yoga poses may look different on people with narrow hips, but they can be just as accessible. Visit the Yoga Journal Pose Library for detailed instructions on each pose.

A woman in bright pink tights practices yoga tree pose
(Photo: Andrew Clarke; Clothing: Kalia)

Vriksasana (tree pose)

We might not think of Tree Pose as a wide-legged pose because only one leg is turned out, but the foot-to-thigh version of the pose requires you to turn your leg out and lift it at the hip. If this is difficult, enter the Tree by turning the right leg out and placing the right foot on the shin or block. Allow the bent knee to point more toward the upper right corner of the mat rather than to the side.

Warrior pose 2
(Photo: Andrew Clarke; Clothing: Kalia)

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

For Warrior 2, spread your feet as wide as is comfortable without straining. Bend the front knee, but instead of pressing the front thigh to parallel, allow it to maintain a gentle slope towards the knee. If you notice your front knee moving inward toward the center of the mat, open it in the opposite direction.

Outside the extended triangle
(Photo: Andrew Clarke; Clothing: Kalia)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

In the book Yoga Myths: What You Need to Learn and Don’t Learn for a Safe and Healthy Yoga Practice, Judith Henson Lasater says that trying to bend sideways like you’re moving between two panes of glass ignores the actual hip and pelvic anatomy. Instead, spread your feet as wide as is comfortable without straining and turn your front foot, knee, and hip out to the side. Then allow your pelvis and torso to roll forward slightly, bending to the side. Use the blocks to bring the floor up to your hand.

Beyond the extended side angle
(Photo: Andrew Clarke; Clothing: Kalia)

Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Placing your hand on the floor or even a side block may not be possible if your hips are tight or tight. Instead, train with your forearm on your thigh.

Limited angle pose variation
(Photo: Andrew Clarke; Clothing: Kalia)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

While sitting, bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to open and drop away from each other into a connected angle. You may need to support your knees with blocks or supports and move your feet further away from your body to find a comfortable position for your hips. These tips can also help with Supta Baddha Konasana, the lying version of this pose. Pay attention to whether your hips are different when doing the lying pose.

A woman practices a wide-angle forward bend while sitting.
(Photo: Andrew Clarke. Clothing: Calia)

Upavistha Konasana (seated wide angle forward bend)

Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Spread your legs as wide as is comfortable for you. Bend forward into the pose as far as your hips will allow without forcing it. Place your hands in front of you for support.

A woman practices garland pose with a block under the buttocks.  She had tattoos on her arm and leg.  She is wearing hot pink yoga tights and a crop top.  The room is white with a wooden floor.
(Photo: Andrew Clark. Clothing: Calia)

Squat or garland pose

You can keep your knees closer together when you squat in Malasana. In her book Blockasanas, yoga instructor Jenny Cleese suggests sitting on blocks to support yourself as you work to bring your torso back into a more upright position. Turn your legs out and let your knees follow the direction of your feet. You can put your hands near your heart.

Skandasana (side lunge or god of war pose)

There are several ways to adjust this side lunge. If your hips are very tight, start in a wide-legged stance with your hands on your hips and shift your weight back and forth from one leg to the other, bending at the knee. If you have more mobility in your hips, you can stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart, bend half forward and move from left to right, bending your knees as deeply as possible. Cleese also suggests a seated malasana: Sit on blocks in a squat position, extend one leg straight out to the side, and point your toes and knees toward the ceiling.

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