Simple Pilates Exercises : Hip Mobility

I’m starting a new series on the journal today; ‘Simple Pilates Exercises.’ Sound simple? You can do all of these at home without equipment. In this series I will go through a variety of exercises that either build strength, increase flexibility or address mind/body wellness. Today, I’m sharing a few effective hip mobility exercises that you can do right now.


After sitting for a long period, is your body stiff upon standing? According to The Washington Post, the average US adult sits 6.5 hours per day. While sitting should be and can be a normal position to occupy during the day, we know that excessive sitting can lead to poor health. This includes but is not limited to stiff hips and a stiff back. There are more supportive ways to sit, (which I will discuss in another post) but balancing the body with a movement practice is the best way to keep you mobile and feeling agile. Let’s start with improving flexibility in your hips! Press play on each of the videos to watch the movement.

Hip Mobility Exercises

We are starting simply (if you don’t have space to lie on the floor, skip to the next exercises). Lie on the floor. Breathe. Bend your knee and pull your leg into your chest. Gently mobilize the leg by moving the leg in the socket. Breathe. Then progress to a figure 4 stretch and a full cross of the legs. You can try pulling the knees into the chest and allowing your back to round. Then try lengthening the back. Both will stretch different aspects of your gluteal and piriformis tissue. Play with it and notice where you feel the greatest stretch.

Sitting, let’s start with sufi grinds. If sitting in this criss cross position is hard because your hips are tight, then a) you’re in the right place! and b) you should place a cushion or yoga block under your bum. You can then begin rocking your pelvis forward and backward and progressing to a circle. Allow your spine to flex and extend (or arch and curl) as you move around your sit bones. Inhale as you come forward and exhale as you roll back. You can do as many of these as you like!

See how it feels to sit with both legs off to the side (as depicted above). Here we are internally rotating one hip and externally rotating the other. Just sitting in this position may be a huge stretch. I’m a big believer in props to assist in efficiency as well as comfort. Use cushions or blankets to help prop yourself up when needed so you can feel comfortable in this position. As you will see, I begin with a little forward and backward motion in the pelvis and then move into a side stretch. Try 3 side bends in each direction then repeat this on the other side. Please note that you can also do this stretch in the criss cross seated position!

Hip CARS (controlled articular rotation) are active exercises to increase range of motion. While on all 4’s, try moving the leg in the socket while stabilizing the trunk. Imagine you have headlights on the front two bones of your pelvis and keep the lights facing the floor. At this point move your leg in the widest range possible, while maintaining trunk stability. Try 6 in each direction, moving slowly then repeat on the other side.


Stand up, walk around and, most importantly, notice how you feel. If these exercises are helpful, you can find these and more in the full hip mobility series in our membership portal. I will guide you through these stretches with nurturing care. If you are a member you can also peruse our full library of mobility sessions in our collections. OK, it’s time for me to step away from this computer and stretch my hips! Bye for now!

If you’re a Los Angeles local be sure to come by one of our Pilates classes in Los Angeles.