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Yoga Teachers & Yogis: Here Are Some Sequence Tips & Tricks for Hips

Two women do pigeon pose on their yoga mats

Hip-focused yoga classes may be some of the most popular sequences. 

This makes sense–the hip joint is the largest weight-bearing joint in the human body. Many students complain of tight hips.

But not all hip-focused yoga classes are created equal. So what makes a really good hip-focused sequence?

We’ve all been to a class where it was clear that the teacher was making things up as they went.

For some bodies, that’s fine.

But for others, that lack of clarity and preparation means your body may not be ready for the pose they’ve thrown in for the sake of flow. 

Follow the below tips to build a sequence that will feel great and leave your students’ hips feeling good!

Yoga Sequence Tips and Tricks for Hips

Types of Hip Focused Sequences

Know your anatomy!

Not all hip-focused sequences focus on the same thing.

There are 17+ muscles in the hips and multiple ways that the hips can move. Understanding how the hips move and what muscles are affected by specific poses can help you build sequences and teach classes that make sense biomechanically and feel good in your students’ bodies. 

The hips can be divided into four muscle groups:

  • The Gluteal Group
    • this includes gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae
  • The Adductor Group
    • this includes adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis
  • The Iliopsoas Group
    • this includes iliacus and psoas major
  • The Lateral Rotator Group
    • this includes obturator externus, obturator internus, piriformis, the superior and inferior gemelli, and quadratus femoris

The hip joint allows for movement in 6 unique ways:

  1. Flexion: This involves bringing the thigh closer to the trunk or decreasing the angle of the joint. Wind Removing Pose, or Apanasana, is an example of this. 
  2. Extension: This increases the angle of the joint. Backbends like Camel Pose or Ustrasana are an example of this. 
  3. AdductionThis involves bringing the thighs in toward the midline - or adding to the midline. Half Lord of the Fishes, or Ardha Matsyendrasana, illustrates this with the top leg crossing over the midline.
  4. Abduction: This involves bringing the thighs away from the midline. Bound Angle Pose, or Baddha Konasana, is an example of this. 
  5. Internal Rotation: This involves rotating the thigh bone towards the midline. Eagle Pose, or Garudasana,  is an example of this.
  6. External Rotation: This involves rotating the thigh away from the midline. Goddess Pose, or Utkata Konasana, illustrates this. 

Your hip-focused sequences could involve (and likely will involve) several or all of these movements. But you may want to choose one or two to really hone in on during your sequence.

This ties back into themes, explained further in the Ultimate Guide for Creating Sequences. Your main theme is hips, and the secondary theme would fall into one of these categories:

  • Forward Bends/Hamstring Focused
  • Backbends
  • Twists
  • Arm Balances
  • Inversions

It’s easiest to decide your theme once you’ve decided on your peak pose(s). 

Yoga hip sequences are comprised of warm-ups, hot parts, peak poses, and cool downs.

Peak Poses

The peak pose of your sequence is like the climax of your class. Everything you do before your peak pose should prepare your student’s bodies for this pose. 

Some examples of hip-focused peak poses are:

  • Splits, or Hanumanasana
  • Straddle Splits, or Upavistha Konasana
  • Flying Splits, or Eka Pada Koundinyasana 
  • Pigeon Pose, or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
  • Cow Face Pose, or Gomukhasana
  • Firelog Pose, or AgniStambhasana
  • Lotus Pose, or Padmasana
  • Visvamitrasana
  • Firefly Pose, or Tittibhasana
  • Compass Pose, or Surya Yantrasana
  • Tortoise Pose, or Kurmasana
  • Half Moon Pose, or Ardha Chandrasana
  • Frog Pose, or Mandukasana
  • Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose, or Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
  • Flying Pigeon, or Eka Pada Galavasana
  • Wheel Pose, or Urdhva Dhanurasana

The possibilities are ENDLESS. Once you choose your peak, decide what themes it falls under. For example, Flying Splits or Flying Pigeon fall under Hips and Arm Balances, while Splits falls under Hips and Hamstrings, and Wheel falls under Hips and Backbends. 

Next, take a look at what key actions are present in your peak pose. What action is the body doing in the pose?  

Here are some examples of key actions for clarity:

  • Splits
    • hip extension in the back leg
    • hip flexion in the front leg
    • hamstrings of the front leg are being stretched
    • quads of the back leg are being stretched
    • the core is engaged to stay upright
  • Straddle Splits
    • hip abduction in both legs
    • hamstrings are being stretched, while quads are engaged
    • the core is engaged to stay upright
  • Flying Splits
    • shoulders are engaged to lift the body away from the ground
    • hip extension in the back leg
    • hip flexion in the front leg
    • hamstrings of the front leg are being stretched
    • core is engaged 
  • Flying Pigeon
    • shoulders are engaged to lift the body away from the ground
    • hip abduction and external rotation in the front leg
    • hip extension in the back leg
    • core is engaged 
  • Wheel
    • hip extension and spinal extension
    • shoulders are engaged to lift the body away from the ground

Once you know what key actions you need for your peak, it’s easier to find out what poses will support and prepare your students for this peak pose. 

Here are some examples to get you started:

Splits

  • hip extension
    • Cobra Pose
    • Camel Pose
    • Warrior I
  • hip flexion
    • Lunges
    • Wind Removing Pose
  • hamstring stretches
    • Half Splits
    • Head to Knee Pose
    • Pyramid Pose
    • Triangle Pose
  • quad stretches
    • King Arthur Lunge
    • Half Frog Pose

Straddle Splits

  • hip abduction
    • Bound Angle Pose
    • Goddess Pose
  • hamstring stretch
    • Half Splits
    • Head to Knee Pose
    • Pyramid Pose
    • Triangle Pose

Flying Splits

  • shoulder strengthening
    • Chaturanga
    • Plank Pose
    • Downward Facing Dog
    • Crow Pose
  • hip extension
    • Cobra Pose
    • Camel Pose
    • Warrior I
  • hip flexion
    • Lunges
    • Wind Removing Pose
    • Boat Pose
  • hamstring stretch
    • Half Splits
    • Head to Knee Pose
    • Pyramid Pose
    • Triangle Pose
    • Splits

Flying Pigeon

  • shoulder strengthening
    • Chaturanga
    • Plank Pose
    • Downward Facing Dog
    • Crow Pose
  • hip abduction
    • Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
    • Bound Angle Pose
    • Goddess Pose
  • external rotation
    • Pigeon
    • Warrior II
  • hip extension
    • Lunges
    • Cobra
    • Upward Facing Dog

Wheel

  • hip extension
    • Lunges
    • Half Frog Pose
    • Warrior I
  • spinal extension
    • Locust
    • Cobra
    • Upward Facing Dog
    • Camel
    • Bow Pose
  • shoulder engagement
    • Upward Facing Dog
    • Plank
    • Dolphin Pose
    • Downward Facing Dog

Top Tips For Building Hip-Focused Sequences

When building your sequence, warm your students up properly and order your poses from least intensity and complexity to most intensity and complexity. For example, while Wind Removing Pose involves deeper hip flexion, many would consider it less intense and complex than a Lunge so you could put this pose in before your Lunge. 

Use counter poses in your cool-down section to help your students' bodies feel even and refreshed after your class. For example, if you focused on a lot of external rotation and your peak was Straddle Splits, you’ll want to include some internal rotation during cool-down. Poses like Cow Face Pose and Half Lord of the Fishes are great for this. 

A Hip-Focused Yoga Sequence

This sequence is an example of a hip-focused sequence you can teach.

Peak Pose

Compass Pose

Theme(s)

Hips, Hamstrings

Key Actions

  • hip flexion
  • hamstrings, adductors, outer hips, and side body are being stretched
  • core and spinal muscles are being strengthened

Warm Up:

  • Bound Angle, or Baddha Konasana
  • Revolved Head to Knee Pose, or Parvritta Janu Sirsasana
  • Head to Knee Pose, or Janu Sirsasana
  • Cat/Cow
  • Gate Pose, or Parighasana
  • Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana
    • walk feet forward to Forward Fold, Uttanasana
    • stand up in Mountain Pose, Tadasana
  • Sun Salutation A, Surya Namaskar A (repeat 3-5 times)

Hot Part:

  • Warrior II, Extended Side Angle, Triangle Pose (hold each pose for 5 deep breaths)
    • Take a Vinyasa by lowering to Plank, Chaturanga, Upward Facing Dog, and Downward Facing Dog
    • Repeat on the other side
  • Warrior I, Pyramid Pose, Standing Splits (hold each pose for 5 deep breaths)
    • Take a Vinyasa
    • Repeat on the other side
  • Lizard Lunge, Side Plank, Wild Thing (hold each pose for 3-5 deep breaths)
    • Take a Vinyasa and repeat on the other side
  • Lunge Twist, Half Split, Pigeon (hold each pose for 5 deep breaths)
    • Take a Vinyasa and repeat on the other side

Peak Pose:

  • From Downward Facing Dog, either have your students jump through to seated or lower knees and come to a seated position.
  • Optional: Repeat Revolved Head to Knee Pose. Now that your students are warmed up, they may be able to go deeper. Cue them to focus on rotating their ribs toward the ceiling to get them ready for Compass. 
  • Compass Pose

Cool-Down:

  • Supine Twist
  • Supine Gomukhasana
  • Banana Pose
  • Savasana
Adriana Lee
Adriana Lee, a certified yoga teacher and trainer, boasts an impressive array of qualifications including a 300-hour YTT from HIBS Yoga in her hometown of Las Vegas, a 200-hour YTT from Frog Lotus Yoga in Suryalila, Spain, and advanced training from Heba Saab Yoga School. Her journey into yoga began as a young Las Vegas native, initially perceiving it as mere exercise, but later finding it a sanctuary for healing past traumas and body dysmorphia. Adriana is a dedicated yoga instructor, shares her expertise through her classes, courses, and writing articles for beYogi. Her teaching approach, grounded in anatomy and biomechanics, is designed to make yoga accessible to all, breaking down complex concepts and poses into easily understandable parts.