Guys, when it comes to yoga, I'm a sucker for a good hip-opener. Pigeon pose, child's pose, bound angle pose — it's all good stuff, if you ask me. There's simply nothing like getting on your yoga mat after a long day (especially a long day of being desk-ridden) and releasing all of that muscular tightness that's inevitably built up in your lower body. So, uh, since Jessica Biel's favorite yoga poses consist of hip-openers as well, does that mean we're best friends now? I mean, a girl can dream, right?
Personally, I developed a massive girl crush on Biel when she told WomensHealthMag.com back in April that yoga helped her find herself as a young adult (ugh, I stan). The 36-year-old actress described the practice as "so much more than an exercise—more of a stress reliever and a life calmer" (couldn't have said it better myself, TBH).
Now, in a recent interview with Well + Good, Biel revealed that her favorite yoga poses are hip-openers — and, girl, SAME. “I love lizard, and I like all of the standing poses that are really hip-activated, like warrior two, reverse warrior, and runner’s lunge," Biel told Well + Good. "I love holding all of those poses where it activates your hips and your lower half."
If you haven't tried these types of yoga poses yourself, let me tell you: There's nothing like the stretch you get when you ease your way into a hip-opening asana. Especially for people whose lower bodies are tight as a result of sitting all day, the poses Biel described to Well + Good, along with a variety of other hip-focused asanas, can provide a lot of relief. Honestly, I may be a bit biased as a yoga instructor, but IMO, if you're a human being, you can benefit from doing a few hip-openers from time to time — full stop.
Besides, these poses aren't just good for releasing tight muscles; many people experience an intense, cathartic release of emotion when they do hip-opening yoga poses as well. There's not exactly a science, per se, behind why this happens, but most yogis will tell you: Hip-openers can make you pretty dang emotional. It's very similar to the feeling you get when you're clenching your fist or your jaw out of anger or anxiety, and you finally release the tension and allow it to leave your body.
In order for all of those mental and physical feelings of release to happen, though, you do have to make sure you're breathing deeply and fully throughout these hip-opening yoga poses. Without your breath, it'll be very hard to let anything go that you're holding on to. Even Biel made note of this in her interview with Well + Good, as she told the outlet that one of her favorite parts of her overall yoga practice is the specific focus on breathing.
“There are so many things that I love about yoga — mainly the breath that comes with practicing," the actress told Well + Good. "The Ujjayi breath, which is this deep breathing through your nose, oxygenates your body on a level that I feel like doesn’t happen when you’re circuit training or in a spin class."
Again, I couldn't agree with Biel more. Personally, I always tell the students in my classes that if you don't focus on breathing deeply throughout the poses, it's not really yoga — it's just another workout. And while moving your body in any capacity is always a good thing, if you want to get the full mind-body benefits of your yoga practice, it's so important to stay with your breath from start to finish.
Try practicing diaphragmatic breathing at home while you're resting in a pigeon pose. Use your inhales and exhales to breathe through uncomfortable sensations or thoughts that arise, and try to direct your breath to certain parts of your body that seem like they could use a little extra love and release. Close your eyes, surrender to the present moment, and observe your thoughts without judgment — anything that comes up is perfectly OK.
Once you get the hang of breathing and opening up your hips, you might just find yourself experiencing that blissful post-yoga high that Biel and so many others clearly can't get enough of.