Counter poses for hip openers
Poses with internal hip rotation and/or a stretch for the abductors
Hip openers generally involve stretching the hip with the hip externally rotated and the knee bent. So examples of hip openers may include pigeon pose, bound angle, low lunge with the foot turned out, janu sirsasana and even lotus (whether with one foot or both). They could also include poses like side splits (or half side splits).
A good question to ask, particularly in regards to balancing the hip joint is what are some counter poses for hip openers.
Some examples of hip openers
As mentioned, hip opener poses can include these poses: pigeon pose, bound angle, low lunge with the foot turned out, janu sirsasana and even lotus (whether with one foot or both). They could also include poses like side splits (or half side splits).
Counter poses generally involve using the opposite movements to the moves used in the poses that they act as counter poses for. So counter poses for hip openers would include internal rotation with the knee bent.
Eagle pose as a counter pose for hip openers
One standing example of such a counter pose for hip openers is eagle pose. Because it is a binding pose (the legs bind each other) this might be a good pose in particular for countering lotus pose.
In eagle pose, not only are the thighs crossed, meaning that they are abducted, or moving inwards, they are also internally rotated. The abduction makes this a good counter pose for side splits also.
Another pose where the leg is slightly internally rotated is hero pose or half hero pose.
This too can be a good counter pose for lotus simply because in that pose the knee is rotated inwards so that the foot sits on the inside of the thigh while in hero pose variations the knee is rotated outwards so that the foot sits to the outside of the thigh.
In the hip opener pose called pigeon, the knee would tend towards a more lotus like position though the muscles that drive knee rotation could actually be active in such a way that the knee resists this tendency. (The same can hold true in lotus, you can use the knee rotators to resist the knee rotating inwards.) In hero pose you can do the opposite, resist the knee rotating outwards, or at least work to stabilize the knee, making it feel strong.
Depending on how you use your legs in lotus and in hero, you may find that for both poses a nice way to counter pose is to bend forwards with one or both legs straight or do a pose like heron pose.
You don't have to have the bent knee leg in hero pose for this to be an effective counter pose since it is the lifted leg that is being used as the counter posing element. But in either case you can can activate your lifted leg against the strength of your arms and/or you can simple work at making the knee feel strong as well as straight.
Another good contender for counterposing hip openers is hurdlers stretch.
In this pose the bent knee leg is internally rotated. I generally teach this pose with the thighs at 90 degrees to each other and with the bent knee foot turned out. But you could to it with the foot turned down as in hero pose.
Another way to counterpose hip openers is to simply stand with your feet turned in and actively rotate your hips inwards.
Reactivating the hips
If you do hip openers with a focus on relaxing, you may find that even with these counter poses your hips feel fragile. What you may need to do is reactivate your hips. And so whether or not you use any of the above mentioned counter poses, another option is some simple and non extreme standing poses like pyramid, reverse triangle or half moon pose with a focus on activating one or both hips.
Opening and closing the hip creases
For more on a balanced approach to working on the hip, check out the hip crease. One idea is to use it, the hip crease or "inguinal crease" as a reference for controlling the hip joint. Two complementary (and thus counter posing) actions you can do are to open the hip crease and close them. Read more about the hip crease.
And for more on counter posing in general read counterposes.
Published: 2021 02 02