Today I wanted to share some seated hip opening yoga poses with you!  This post was requested by one of my health coaching clients, who wants to add some seated poses to her “yoga repertoire”.   Ever feel like you are too physically tired for a demanding and strong standing flow, but you are still enthusiastic and in the moment, so want to keep on going anyway? Yeah.  Don’t we all!

These poses are based on Yin yoga, a lineage of yoga in which we hold postures for up to 5-10 minutes  This really gets into the connective tissue, promoting elasticity of our fascia, and in turn ensures that our musculature remains healthy and mobile.   That said, these poses can also be held for 5-10 breaths if you’re really lacking time, or you simply want to add them to the end of a standing sequence at home.  It is worth spending as much time in each pose as you can though to really absorb the benefit.


Baddha konasana// butterfly

This is a great pose for the hip adductors.  Bring the soles of your feet together, and let your knees fall out to the sides.  Take hold of the outer edges of your feet and open the soles of your feet up towards the ceiling.  If you’re already feeling a strong stretch through your inner thighs then keep your spine upright.  Otherwise…

You can start to fold forwards.  You can keep the spine straight, reaching your heart forwards, or you can do as I did and really round through the spine, bringing your head down towards your feet.

A great way to make this pose more gentle is to bring your forearms under your shins, again rounding the spine.

Agnistambhasana // firelog (or square) pose

Square pose variation: This is one of my favourite gentle outer hip openers, and is accessible to most people.  Bring your left shin so its parallel to the front edge of your mat, and then place your right shin in front of the left, so that both shins are parallel to each other.  Flex into both feet, meaning that your toes are pointing in towards each other.  It’ll look kind of like a cross-legged pose, but with your shins in line and each foot closer towards the opposite knee.

If your hips are already quite open and you have no knee problems, you can explore firelog pose (below)

Firelog pose (full expression): Now stack your right (front) shin on top of your left.  Ultimately you’re looking for your right knee to be on top of your left foot, and your right foot on top of your left knee.  If you feel any discomfort, or if there is a big gap between your right knee and left foot, stick to the Square Pose (above) variation and work your way to firelog over time!

Whether you’re in square or firelog pose, start walking your hands forwards, and fold over your legs.  Just go as far as is comfortable for you, and explore your edge.

Make sure you repeat it on the other side, placing the left shin outside/on top of the right.

Ardha matsyendrasana // Half Lord of the Fishes pose // Seated twist

Place your left heel to your right outer hip, and swing your right foot over to the outside of your left knee (in the images above I’m doing this on the left side, but its good yogic practice to always start on the right).  Start off by sitting upright, drawing the right knee in towards your chest and lifting up through the collarbones.  Now place your right hand just behind you, near the base of your spine, and wrap your left elbow round the right knee.  As you inhale, sit up as tall as you can, and twist deeper towards the right as you breathe out.  You can gaze all the way over your right shoulder if its comfortable for your neck.

Repeat on the left side.

Gomukhasana // Cowface pose // Shoelace

Cowface pose is also a good opener for the outer hips, as well as the shoulders if you try these arm variations.

Legs  – bend into your left knee, and bring the left heel to the outside of the right hip.  Now stack your right knee on top of the left, placing the right heel by the left hip.  You can walk your hands forwards (not shown) here to intensify the stretch.

Eagle arms (picture 1) – extend both arms out in front of you, and bend at the elbows with your right elbow crease underneath your left elbow.  Wrap your arm round each other until the hands meet.   Elevate your elbows to about shoulder height, and gentle guide your hands away from your face.

Cowface arms (full expression; picture 2 and 3) – place your left hand to the space in between your shoulder blades from above, and your right hand to a similar place from round your back.  If your fingers do not meet do not worry! You can take hold of a strap/towel/your clothing and slowly bring your hands towards each other.   It can take years for this to happen, so practice patience 🙂

Again, don’t forget to do the other side!


Let me know if you try these poses – and how you get on.  If any of these postures don’t feel good for your body – particularly your knees – don’t do them without the guidance of a teacher.  I offer private yoga classes here in Edinburgh and love to show people how to practice yoga in a way that is both fun and safe!


Tali xx

Leave a Reply