Are you new to yoga and looking for poses that will stretch your back and hips? You’ve come to the right place. In this blog I’m sharing 10 beginner poses to add to your yoga for back and hips practice. They’re in no particular ranking order, you’ll notice that standing poses are first, followed by kneeling, sitting, and finally laying down.
Standing Side Bend: Hips and Back
The yoga standing side bend is my first pick for anyone who has a busy schedule. You can perform this pose at home, in the office, and even while you’re out running errands. Most of us don’t do enough side bending in our daily lives. Add this pose to your daily routine and you can turn that around in no time flat! Bonus: this is also a gentle oblique exercise, so perform this move and you’ll also work your core. There are a number of arm variations, so choose the one that’s best for you!
Standing Wide Legged Forward Fold: Hips and Back
The wide legged forward fold is another pose that can be performed almost anywhere (as long as you feel comfortable). It’s a solid choice for anyone with tight hamstrings. I prefer this over the seated variation, because the weight of your torso does the work for you. If you can’t reach the ground, simply put your hands on a set of yoga blocks, a table, or a couch.
Low Lunge: Hips
Most people default to a standing quad stretch to stretch the front of their thighs. I like the low lunge because it takes out most of the balancing aspect AND you can put more weight behind the stretch for more noticeable and faster results. The only downside is the pressure on your knee. If you have this issue, place a thick pad, a towel, or a rolled up blanket underneath it for added cushion.
Half Split: Back
Got tight glutes and hamstrings? The half split is a great way to stretch them out with minimal muscle tension and pressure. Most people develop tight and underactive glutes and hamstrings from sitting too much. The tension then translates to a pulling sensation in your lower back. Stretching out your hamstrings with the yoga half split is a great way to loosen it up.
Half Kneeling Wide Forward Fold: Hips and Back
One often overlooked area is the inner thigh. Tightness in this area can prevent you from moving in certain plains of motion. That creates tension in your hips and forces you to overuse or overstretch your back muscles. The half kneeling wide forward fold is an excellent and simple yoga pose to open up your hips and ultimately lighten the load on your back. It’s a great alternative for those who struggle with the typical wide legged fold.
Deer Pose: Hips and Back
Deer pose is my favorite alternative to pigeon pose, which I see sequenced in most yoga classes. However, pigeon is a difficult yoga pose to do correctly and safely, especially for those with knee or hip sensitivity and tightness. If that’s you, I highly recommend trying this variation. It will not only directly target your back, but it also provides a fairly deep hip stretch in a more mindful way.
Child’s Pose Variations: Back
A simple pick for a back and hip yoga pose is child’s pose. It is accessible for most people, easy to perform, and simple to modify. This will quickly help you stretch your lower back. For many, it can be relaxing. The one downside is that people with sensitive knees may experience a flare-up by sinking your hips all the way back. Simply shift your hips forward a bit to avoid pain.
Thread the Needle: Back
Another simple yoga pose pick is thread the needle. This pose works to open your back with a gentle twist. Those who are fairly flexible may find that it offers very little stretch. I actually like that! Not all stretches need to be intense. In fact, a low intensity stretch allows you to hold the pose for longer while relaxing into it more deeply.
Reclined Half Easy Pose: Hips
Reclined Half Easy Pose is actually an alternative for hero or half hero, which can lead to strains or tears if you go too deep too fast. If you have tight quads, like most people in the world, reclined half easy pose is an accessible variation. Don’t be deceived, though. It can still be pretty intense. Yet the huge benefit is that you can likely hold it for longer and practice in a comfy place (like your bed).
Supine Twist: Hips and Back
Last but not least, I recommend the supine twist. There are many ways to practice this yoga pose, so you should experiment with the different variations to see what is best for your body. If you’re a beginner, keep both of your knees together. If that doesn’t feel like much of a stretch, try the single leg bent knee or single leg straight variations.
When and How to Perform Yoga Poses for Back and Hips
Yoga for back and hip poses are a great way to help reduce pain in your joints and increase your overall flexibility. They can be completed as a series or you can pick and choose the ones that work for you. The standing poses are a more practical fit for when you’re at work or on the go while reclined poses may be best suited for home. Since our bodies stretch more efficiently and safely when our muscles are warm, it may be best to perform the more intense stretches after your workout or a light warmup (i.e a 5 minute walk, a light jog, or a pratapana practice).
Want to see some of the other yoga content I’ve created? Check out my writer profile on LoveToKnow.com.