If you’re busy like I am, you don’t always have time to make it to a yoga studio or gym for an hour-long class, especially if you’re running consistently. And, let’s face it: if your legs are already torched from running or other workouts, the last thing you want to do is do a bunch of standing poses and lunges. So, I put together a quick (just 12 minutes!) seated hip-opening yoga sequence for runners. It will help you loosen your tight hips without taking up too much of your day. And, if you’re not a runner, this sequence will still feel great if you have tight hips!
If you’re more of a video person, scroll down to the bottom of the post. You’ll find a 12-minute video that will walk you through each of these poses (and leave you feeling great at the end!).
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Quick Seated Hip-Opening Yoga Sequence for Runners
Okay, let’s get started!
DISCLAIMER: Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. If you are injured, skip any poses that affect the injured area, or ask your doctor, physical therapist, or yoga teacher for modifications. If a pose doesn’t feel right or if it hurts, don’t do it!
For this Quick Seated Hip-Opening Yoga Sequence for Runners, start in an Easy Seated position. You can let your hands fall in your lap or on your knees, or you can take a mudra with your hands, like Gyana mudra (AKA “yoga mudra” in some circles) or my favorite, Dhyana mudra. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, focusing on letting your thoughts fall away as your lungs fill with air and release it. Once you’re feeling more in tune with your body, gently flutter your eyes open.
Staying in your Easy Seated pose, gently walk your fingertips over to the outside of one hip, holding here for a couple of breaths. Twist only as far as you feel comfortable. You’ll feel a gentle stretch through your hips and back. Come back center and repeat the pose on the other side, holding for the same number of breaths.
Come back center and come into a gentle forward fold. Again, find a fold that feels comfortable to you. And, try to keep a flat back instead of curving your back to get your face closer to your legs. (You’ll get a better hamstring stretch that way.) If you’re really tight, you can always support your hands, chest, and/or head with yoga props like folded blankets or yoga blocks. Remember, you’ll build flexibility faster, both in your hamstrings and throughout your body, if you just find a gentle, comfortable stretch instead of forcing yourself to far. Hold here for a few breaths.
Gently press your way back up and come into Marichi’s Pose. Bend one knee and place that foot to the inside of your opposite thigh. (For example, bend your right knee and bring your right foot to the inside of your left knee or left thigh, depending on your flexibility.) On an inhale, lengthen your spine through the crown of your head, then twist toward the bent knee on your exhale. If you like, you can wrap an arm around your bent knee to bring it in closer, or you can hook that (opposite) elbow over the bent knee. Hold for a few breaths, then release. Come into the pose on the opposite side for the same number of breaths.
When you’re done with Marichi’s Pose, give your legs a little wiggle, then come into a Cow Face Pose variation. (We’ll be focusing on the legs and hips, not the arms here.) Bring your right foot to the outside of your left hip, bending your right knee. Then, bend your left leg on top of the right, eventually working to get your left knee to stack on top of the right. (It’s totally fine to have a gap between your knees if they’re not ready to overlap. You do you.) If your hips are feeling limber, you can walk your fingertips forward until you find a comfortable stretch. Hold for several breaths, then release and switch sides. Hold for an equal number of breaths on each side.
After doing Marichi’s Pose on both sides, come back to center and find Butterfly Pose. This is a great way to open the inner hips, whereas many of the poses we’ve done so far stretch the outer hips. Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall to the sides, wherever is comfortable. If this feels too intense, you can get extra support by putting a folded blanket, yoga block, or pillow under one or both knees. To intensify, you can gently walk your fingertips forward. Or, grab ahold of your ankles with your hands and use your elbows to carefully press your knees open (pictured). Hold here for several breaths until you feel your inner hip muscles begin to release.
Now, let’s come into Lord of the Fishes Pose. You’ll begin with your bottom let in the same position as you did with Cow Face Pose, but instead of bringing your top foot back by the hip, you’re going to place it just to the outside of your bottom knee. Inhale and reach tall through the crown of your head, then twist toward the bent knee on your exhale. You can hug your bent knee to your chest with your arms, or you can hook your opposite elbow over your bent knee (pictured). Hold here for a few breaths, then release and switch sides. Hold for an equal number of breaths.
Here’s the big opener we’ve been working up to: Square Pose (AKA Fire Log Pose or Double Pigeon). If your hips are really tight, come back to one of the other poses like Cow Face Pose, or try one of the hip openers for runners I mention here. You may also want to grab some props here; they really will help you get the right amount of stretch.
To come into Square Pose, begin by bending your right knee and bring your right shin parallel to the edge of your mat. You can place a blanket or block under this knee if you need to, Then, bend your left knee and stack your left shin on top of your right shin. Your knees should stack below or on top of your ankles, depending on the leg.
Hang out here for several breaths, focusing on letting tension release out of your hips and glutes. Then, switch sides. Keep in mind that one side of your body will almost always be tighter than the other. That’s totally okay (and normal)! Find whatever the pose looks like on the other side of your body and hold for an equal number of breaths.
When you’re done, wiggle your legs out a bit. You can lie on your back and let you knees fall to one side and then the other. Or, you could extend your legs in front of you and wiggle them, maybe bouncing your knees a bit. Really, just come into any movement that helps you get the blood flowing back through your hips.
When you’re ready, end your Quick Seated Hip-Opening Yoga Sequence for Runners back in your Easy Seated pose. Bring your hands together at heart center with your fingertips touching your breastbone. Take a few breaths here, clearing your mind and just enjoying a few moments of relaxation.
12-Minute Seated Hip-Opening Yoga Sequence for Runners Video
If you prefer to follow along to a video, here’s the full sequence. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, too! I plan to release many new videos in the near future. 🙂
If you like this Quick Seated Hip-Opening Yoga Sequence for Runners, I’d really appreciate it if you’d share it with any friends who are runners or who have tight hips!