I constantly strive to open my hips during yoga practice. Being a former athlete and weight lifter, my joints are usually tight.
I am happy to report they are loosening up! Part of the reason is because I practice these 3 yoga poses for flexible hips constantly.
1. Pigeon Pose - This is a good one and can be modified in many different ways. Start by sitting cross-legged. Move your right leg straight behind you while keeping the left leg in front of you. Your right leg will remain crossed in front of you. Your hands will touch the ground on the outside of your hips. Lower your hips to meet ground if possible and keep your torso erect in the first step of this pose. You should feel a stretch through both hips in this yoga pose.
You can stay here if you want. Or, you can keep an erect spine and start to bend at the waist. If you can touch the ground while keeping your back straight, great, your hips are incredibly flexible! If not, you can start to round the back and tuck your chin to the ground. Go as far as you can but don't push yourself too much. There is a lot of weight on one hip and can lead to injury if you are too intense with this exercise. I advise staying in the pigeon pose for one minute on each leg. Here's a good video that explains pigeon pose.
Switch legs and repeat.
2. Cross-legged Stretch - Looks easy, but can be challenging. Start by sitting cross-legged. Take your right hand and pull your left foot back so the heel is touching the right glute. The left knee should be pointing straight out in front of you. Take the right leg and cross it over the left leg so the right heel is touching the left glute.
Extend the spine and begin to bend from the waist. When you can bend no further, release the straightened spine and let it round as you come to the ground or close to it. Switch legs and begin again. I generally stay in this stretch for one minute on each leg.
Here is a video for the cross-legged stretch.
3. Thread the Needle - Think of the old key lock stretch you used to do in gym class. Lay down on you back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Cross your right leg over your left thigh. Raise your left foot off the ground and bring your left knee towards your chest.
Thread your right arm through the middle of your right and left legs. Grab either the hamstring or the tibia of the left leg depending on flexibility. Your left hand will meet your right hand and aid in pulling the legs closer to your chest. Switch legs after one minute and repeat.
I hope these yoga poses help you to become an open hipped yogi! If you are still struggling, look up a local yoga studio online or look into private yoga classes online.