More and more are our lives revolving around sitting at a desk all day, day after day. It may be more now than ever to remember to focus on not only strengthening our bodies but also to make sure that our muscles are nice and loose too. Skipping stretching can really put a damper on your workouts for the rest of the week. Paying attention to loosening your hips can help to alleviate chronic back/knee pain, improve your bodies circulation, and strengthen your posture.
A pose used a lot to keep the hips nice and open is Cow Face Pose. This pose can be pretty intense and not recommended to do right away. You should do it after your body feels a bit looser than making it your first stretch of the day.
For a visual reference please check out this demo from Yoga Journal.
From all fours, cross your right knee over the left, stacking one on top of the other. In the same motion start to lower your body back allowing your sit bone to touch the ground with both sit bones on the mat. If one sits a bit higher than the other, rest your sit bone on a block or blanket.
You want to try and get your right knee on top of your left knee as best as you can. This is really where you will feel if you are a bit too tight or not. Make sure you ease into it and don’t force any part of your body to go where it doesn’t want to. Hold the pose for as long as you can. Try a couple minutes, while really trying to focus the mind on your breath. After this side, make sure to switch your legs so that the left knee is stacked on top of the right and hold the pose approximately the same length as the other side.
There are more variations to this pose that help open the shoulders, arms and back as well. You can find more variations here. However, the real focus of this exercise is to open those hips from all the sitting you do all day long.