Beginning Hip Series

as taught by Aadil Palkhivala

This series of movements was developed by Aadil Palkhivala in order to utilize all six actions of the hip which are: flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, internal rotation, and external rotation. These six actions cover the three major planes of hip movement and free up the hips. Free hip movement provides a stable center which, in turn, provides better balance and posture.

The sequence of movements should be performed in the order outlined here, this is especially true with internal rotation and external rotation, and should be held for 9 breaths.


Hip replacements
bsolutely no external hip rotation and abduction should be preformed way below maximum range of motion and the leg should be supported by a chair or table.

Unstable Sacroilliac
Be careful with internal rotation as it might stetch the ligaments even more.

Knee Problems (cartilage and ligament problems)
Get advice from instructor
. All postures are performed on the floor

Equipment: You will need a strap, also you may need a block and chair or multiple cushions for support.

Flexion (Supta Padangusthanasa - Hand to toe posture)


Lie on your back with both legs bent and feet flat on floor.
Inhale and lift the right leg and place the strap over the ball of the right foot.
Exhale and slowly extend BOTH legs. (Right leg out and up and left leg along the floor.)
Hold strap in both hands and contract the quadricepts (thigh muscles) on the exhalations and open up the hamstrangs on the inhalations.

Note: If the leg is less than 90 degrees, press the heel of the right leg away toward the far wall or ceiling. If the leg is 90 degrees or greater, press the heel into the hip joint.

Hold 9 breaths, bend both legs on the exhalation and rest 3 breaths before repeating on left side.


Abduction (Parivrtta Supta Padangusthanasa - Rotated Hand to toe posture)

This movement must be done very gently, otherwise the pelvis becomes unstable. There are two options for doing this pose: For beginners, the knee is bent. For, see the Morning Routine 4th movement.

Intermediate students, straighten your knee/leg. Come into Supta Padangusthanana (previous movement) and then place strap into left hand (if you are using the right leg)

Directions: Place your right hand to the outer right groin and push leg away from you.
Exhale and move the right leg to over the left shoulder or as far as it will go without moving the right hip off the ground.
Hold the posture for 9 breaths, move back to vertical and then exhale, bend legs and lower them to the floor.

Rest for 3 breaths before switching to the other leg.

Abduction (Parsva Supta Padagusthasana - Side hand to toe posture)

Note: Not to be done by individuals with hip replacements. You might need a chair or cushion to support the leg.

Directions: Lie on your back, and bring your right leg to Supta Padagusthansana (movement 1). Place your left hand on the front of your left pelvis (Anterior Superior Illiac Spine - ASIS).
Exhaling, bring your right leg out to the right side of your body, attempting to bring your right heel to the floor before bringing the toes down. This means that the right kneecap should be facing the armpit and not the floor.
Press the left frontal iliac crest (ASIS) away from the inner right ankle as you bring the right leg down as far as it will go. This will stretch the inner thigh muscles.
Turn your head to the left when you take your right leg out to the right.

Hold the pose for 9 breaths, breathing deeply. (Pull the leg toward the floor on the exhalation and imagine the inner thigh opeing on the ihalation. Then, exhaling, bring your leg back up, release the leg, and change sides.

Keep both keens absolutely straight throughout this pose. If you cannot reach your right foot, use a belt, chair, or cushion (as shown in the the figure below).
Keep your left buttock down by pressing down on the left ileum with your left hand. In the final pose, the right arm should be perpendicular to the spine, so do not bring the leg higher than that.

This pose is ideal for creating the flexibility to do triangle and half moon pose.


Internal Rotation

Note: This pose must come before external rotation.

Directions: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor so that the sitting bones and the heels are a few inches away from each other.
Exhaling, step the right foot to the right, about a shin bone length away from the left ankle.
Make sure that the right knee is at 90 degress (this is extremely important in keeping the knee in a stable healthy position).
Exhale, bring the right knee toward the left ankle, pull the outer edge of the right foot off the floor.
Exhale, press the right thighbone into the right knee while pulling your belly away from the pelvis.
Hold for 9 breaths. On the inhalations, relax the buttocks.

Note: If there is no pain in the inner right knee, slowly lift the left leg and put the left outer ankle on the outer right knee, using the left leg as a weight to gently bring the right knee closer to the floor.
Firmly pull the flesh of your outer right knee toward your left.
Doing this may bring the right buttock up.
Let it come up, and then once the knee has come down as far as it can go, slowly release tension deep inside your hip to bring the right buttock and pelvis down.
This internal rotation of the hip joint opens the rotators and extends the iliopsoas (deep postural muscle). In the final pose, the right quads are facing the left side.

Stay in the pose for about 9 breaths. Then, very slowly, release the left leg and put the left foot back down on the floor. Slowly lift the right knee, step the right foot next to the left foot, and change sides.


External Rotation (Supta Ardha Padmasana - Reclining Half Lotus Posture)

Caution: Do NOT perform this move if you have a hip replacement.

Make sure both knees are at 90 degrees.

Directions: Lie on your back, bend both knees, and place the outer right thigh on the floor with the right knee at 90 degrees.
Then place the left leg on top wit the left outer ankle just beyond the outer right knee.
The left shinebone should be directly above the right shinbone and both thighbones should be symmetrical to the spine.
Lift your head to check that your legs are not out too far to any one side.
Bring your mind inside the hips and press them toward your knees.
Slowly rotate both hips with your mind and, contracting the buttocks so that your inner thighs face the ceiling, eventrually bring the knees all the way down (it will take months or years).
The left knee should be on the floor and the right knee should be on the left inner ankle.

Note: While doing this the lumbar spine may lift, especially you are stiffer, so pull the pit of your abdomen strongly to create an even greater opening inside the hip joint as well as extension of the frontal lumbar spine.
If you can reach your thighs, hold and roll them externally, pushing the thighs away from the hips into the knees.


Extension (Eka Pada Supta Virasana - Reclining Hero Posture with one leg)

This movement extends the hips, thereby stretching the hip flexors. The movement of extension is very rarely done in the hip joint in an average person's life which is why most people find this pose painful and difficult to do. It is one of the more important actions in all of asana practice.

Directions: Lie on your back with both knees bent.
Feet together and on the floor.
Exhaling, lift the right pelvis and take the right leg into Virasana.
Then bring the right pelvis back down.
Press the right shinbone and right knee into the floor.
On the exhalations, bring the right leg toward the left until the right knee touches the left ankle.
Place your right hand on your right heel and press the right heel toward the right knee.
Simultaneously bring your mind inside your right hip and slowly push your right thighbone into the right knee while you pull the pit of the abdomen away from the knee to stretch the fonrt of the right groin.
On the inhalations, breathe into the upper lungs, pulling the sides o fht ribs cage into the frontal armpits while imaging the frontal thigh muscles opening up.

The figure shows the individual on their side. You can also perform modified camel posture.