Hip Pain in Yoga

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A few years ago, I thought tight hips were limiting me from certain movements, so I chose Vinyasa yoga to increase my flexibility. What I didn’t realize then was that most yoga classes require external rotation of the hip, such as Warrior 2, Triangle, Extended Side Angle, Pigeon, etc. The yoga practice I chose was overworking the muscles that externally rotated my hip and weakened my already underactive inner thigh muscles and hip adductors. This consistent overuse of external rotation was creating an imbalance in my body and I had no idea. I was overstretching my muscles, degenerating tissues, and causing instability in my body. Over time, when my hip flexibility started to increase, so did my yoga hip pain.

It was a dull pain on the right side of my hip that worked its way down the upper front portion of my leg. The sensation originated near the gluteus medius and traveled towards the Tensor fasciae latae, iliotibial band, sartorious and part of the rectus femoris. For a while I ignored it, still being aware of the sensation every time I performed a physical activity.

Instead of harnessing my critical thinking skills to identify the areas of my body that needed to be strengthened, lengthened, and mobilized, I stretched one area of my hip instead. It wasn’t until I began learning about Yoga Tune Up® and The Roll Model Method® several years ago that I learned how much harm I was doing by focusing on too much of one thing. I now understand that in order to “open up” the hips, we must move the ball and socket joint and its connective tissues in external and internal rotation, flexion, extension, circumduction, adduction, and abduction.

Here are the exercises for hip pain relief that helped me ease discomfort in my hip and regain the natural mobility of the joint, which in turn increased the flexibility I was looking for.

I perform Adductor Slides to strengthen the adductor magnus and Half Happy Baby Mini Vini to mobilize the hip socket. I make sure to find balance by strengthening my inner quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings, adductors, and psoas as well.

In my previous posts, I discussed how inactivity due to Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV) ignited my old hip pain. Thankfully Yoga Tune Up® techniques have eased my pain and discomfort.

Liked this article? Read Teaching Yoga Tune Up Flow Using Direction of Movement

Lauren Cap

After years of being told to stand up straight and relax, Lauren decided to take her first yoga class. She fell in love with the practice and knew it would always be a part of her life. She received her Vinyasa Yoga Certification from Prana Power Yoga NYC and found teaching others to be just as rewarding as her own personal practice. She gravitated towards Yoga Tune Up® as a way to expand her anatomy knowledge and learn personal techniques to live a longer, healthier life. She is thankful to Jill Miller's Yoga Tune Up® teachings for showing her that the truly advanced always know when to modify.

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Sarah Nelson

YES! The obsession with equating “hip opening” with just pigeon pose (and its other external rotation friends) makes no sense at all when you look at all the different directions of movement possible in the hip joints! As a person with already-flexible hips, adding more diverse hip strength work to my practice was the missing piece for me to be more pain-free.


Thank you for this informative article. You’re so right that we tend to do the same exercises repeatedly and expect positive results. Thank you for explaining the multiple ranges our hips need to be involved with.

Clarissa Stewart

Working your inner and outer thighs is key to overall strength and stability especially in your pelvis. We live in a very quad and hamstring dominate world. Your video was great!

Ashley Vasas

Vinyasa yoga can be great, for many reasons, but too much of a good thing is still too much. Joint health and stability trumps getting as low as you can go in Warrior II!

Laurianne Gaudet

Thank you for this article! It is true that we neglect our adductors. I see a lot of people just bet on the leg stretches and forget to strengthen them!

Veronique Fortin

Thanks Lauren ! 🙂
‘I learned how much harm I was doing by focusing on too much of one thing’
A couple of years ago I realized this very same thing.


I got the same problem with my left hips and the exercies of Yoga Tune up was very helpful.Thank you!!

Suzanne Lemay

It is very important to reduce repetition on the same hip in vinyasa yoga and your experience show it very well. Thank you for sharing.

Isabelle Audet

Thank you for sharing this. It made me really realize and understand that, in order to stretch, you need to be strong.

Kristin Harris

Lauren, thanks for your post with video exercises included. I can definitely relate to your sentiment on overactive external rotators of the hip. As a previous performer in contortion and aerial arts, I’ve overused these same muscles typical in yoga practice. I actually starting my movement training in yoga before my performance days in the circus. My favorite exercise, and I have to admit my least favorite, are the adductor slides. When I do them I keep my hip health so amazing that my snapping hip syndrome goes away almost within the day! These adductor slides are truly important, I… Read more »

Rose Moro

I had bilateral hip replacement 7 years ago and I know that now maintaining internal rotation and adduction is so important. It has taken me years to rehab and strength has been of the utmost importance.
Thanks for sharing.

Sara Wang

I’m having similar experience about my hips. When i first started yoga, I had no knowledge of anatomy. I thought that the deep I stretch, the more it will open up my hips for lotus. Sometime last year, I start to find these sudden sharp pains in my hips, sometime the pain was so painful I couldn’t move at all. The exercises from physical therapist helped a little bit, but I find the the pain keeps coming back. At the YTU training with Jill this week, I learned and realized I have over stretched my hips.

Missy Tillman

The idea of increasing variety of loads to stabilize our joints is vital and I’m seeing this in my body significantly as a dancer having spent most of my life in external hip rotation

Toni Dee

I totally agree, Yogis focus too much on external rotation, like a ballet dancer…. Hip replacement?
I’ve had the same pain as you were describing as well. I also found relief doing the YTU Moon Rises to strengthen the internal/external rotation and the Jithara Parivartonasana Variation 4 to get deeper into the core/hip connection.
Thanks for your article.

Wendy Rodríguez

This article comes to me at the perfect time, because it just brought a hip injury on the right side, I am already improving but I still have contracted muscles, external hip rotators but especially the adductors. My injury was such that I could not rotate externally, separate and bring my leg closer to the center. And it was precisely with The Roll Model® balls that I had a great improvement in pain reduction and range of motion. I have also done some Yoga Tune Up® postures such as Prasarita Desplants and Abducot Lifting (with limited range), but the one… Read more »

Jacqueline Matthews

Totally agree with your assessment. Moving the joint through full range of motion, building strength and mobility is the key. However, what to do if this does not alleviate the pain?? I found certain aches and pains improved after strength training within a few months.


Along with Jill’s experience I feel like there has been a lot of coverage about hip issues for yogies. Strength of the adductors tend to be overlooked but are needed for a well balanced hip. The adductor slide is one of my favorite YTU moves for this underworked area.

Annie Siegel

This is a great reminder to look at the big picture when addressing pain in the body. The body needs to work as a whole, in order for the parts to be healthy.


The title of this blog immediately captured my attention because I have very tight hips and often don’t know how to go about working on them. It makes so much sense that in order to have a stable hip I would need to strengthen my adductors and inner thigh. I didn’t realize how much in Yoga we overstretch some of these muscles instead of strengthening them. I loved when you said that it created an imbalance in your body because I feel the same way. Also, I tried both (the adductor slides and half happy baby mini vini) today and… Read more »

josee Dupuis

It is magical to note that with a little movement in the correct alignment, it makes all the difference and allows a better flexion, a better mobility and brings reinforcement!

Cindy Côté

Thanks again for all your articles and video

Maria del carmen restrepo

It’s important for us to learn how to move our bady in different directions and most important is to learn to activate as much muscles us possible, when we excersise usually we only work or over work some muscles and forget about others. This is a good reminder of the importance to keep balance. Thank you.

Melanie Blanchette

Hips are really important for the well being and good balance of the posture. Its important to know strengths and weaknesses of our hips. Yoga and YTU help a lot and helped me a lot to understand my body to avoid injuries.

Nathalie Soucy

Yoga Tune Up teachings will make me understand the importance of mobilizing our joints in all directions and as often as possible to avoid injury.

Melaina Landriault

We overuse the same joints day in and out in our lives and this article shows the reasons why all directions of movement are important to have lives with happy hips and abductors.

Melaina Landriault


This is a good reminder to myself to diversify movements in every class that I teach. I only recently realized how much external rotation is involved in a typical Vinyasa class. Thank you for sharing your exercises!


Thanks for sharing , I have had pain and soreness in my right hip joint for a long time. But three weeks ago I did Hips immersion work shop that the first day we did the movements was the best that ever happened for my hips. We did abductor slides, monk walks,abduction and addiction of the hips and my hips opened up and now # happy hips. Learning and moving our bodies the right way helps us live better.


I am taking the YTU certification training, and it has helped me find my blidspots and weaknesses. Now knowing the different directions of movement of the hip, I can better balance my Pilates practice.


Thank you for sharing part of your movement journey. I’ve had similar experiences, not with pain in my hips, but in other areas of my body. And while I’ve had teachers pretty much from the beginning, focus on tissue strength, everything started to make more sense in my body a bit before and a ton after I finished the YTU certification training. Such a wake up call to blind spots in my previous practices!

Rudie Jimenez

This is great! I never thought of it this way, but there is definitely a lot of external hip rotation in yoga. Not to mention a million pigeon poses that just re-enforce the same pattern! Very helpful article to consider varying movements, especially for our students.

Karla Knight

Love this blog! I have this same issue! I am adding adductor slides and Happy Baby Mini Vini’s to my yoga practice.
Thank you

Andrew Chung

Great example of the uniqueness of our bodies. I appreciate how Lauren doesn’t forsake Vinyasa but instead contextualizes how the needs of her body were not being addressed by that particular practice. It reinforces the concept that cues are based on context. It also shifts the responsibility of taking care of your body from the teacher to the individual. When we take responsibility for our actions and our choices, we have no one else to blame but ourselves, both for the good and the bad. Scary but also empowering!


This is my area of concern and I got there doing exactly what the author did. Now I am in rehab and my number 1 go-to is Adductor Slides. Yoga world out there – stop with the crazy hip openers!


Another exercise that we can add to the list for strengthening these neglected adductors is to squeeze and release a Coregeous ball between the thighs.


I came to the same realization when I started my Yoga Tune Up Teacher training. Initially I felt yoga was stretching and strengthening my entire body evenly. I have also experienced the same hip tightness. Adductor Slides and 1/2 Happy Baby Mini Vini are now part of my practice! Thank you!