Tight hip flexors are right up there with back and knee pain when it comes to universal problem for many yogis. The proof: hip openers are among the most requested moves in yoga classes. Blame our sedentary lifestyle: sitting too much causes hip flexors and hip rotators to tighten and weakens your glutes. The more time the hip flexors remain in a shortened position, the less likely they are going to return to their optimal length—which is many people notice a reduced range of motion in their hips over time.
Loosening your hip flexors through yoga can improve circulation, reduce lower back pain, and increase hip mobility. Plus, hip-opening poses just feel good. The following moves help to stretch your hip flexors; add them to your at-home routine.
If you need more support in Bridge Pose, slide a block or bolster under your sacrum and rest the pelvis on this support.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.
- Exhale and press your feet and arms into the floor while you lift your tailbone. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp your hands under your back.
- Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Push your knees forward while lengthening your tailbone toward the backs of your knees.
- Lift your chin slightly and press the top of your sternum toward the chin.
- Stay in the pose up to 1 minute. On an exhalation, slowly roll down onto the floor.
This pose opens your chest while stretching your hips and improving balance
- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Shift your weight onto your right foot. Bend your left knee and lift the heel toward your left buttock.
- Reach back with your left hand and grasp the outside of your left foot or ankle and lift your foot away from the floor. If you can’t reach your foot, use a strap.
- Lift the left thigh so it is parallel to the floor. Stretch your right arm forward keeping it parallel to the floor.
- Stay in the pose for up to 30 seconds.
Bow Pose allows you to open both hips at one time while stretching the back muscles and opening the front of the body.
- Lie on your belly and bend your knees to bring your heels close to your buttocks. Reach back to take hold of your ankles.
- Inhale and lift your heels away from your buttocks while lifting your thighs to pull your head and upper torso off the floor. Press your shoulder blades firmly against your back to open your heart. Remember to keep breathing.
In addition to stretching your hip flexors, Camel Pose also stretches your abdomen, chest, shoulders, and front of your thighs (quadriceps)
- Kneel on your mat with knees hip-width apart and hips directly over knees. Press your shins and the tops of your feet into the mat.
- Place your hands on your hips, with your thumbs on your sacrum. Internally rotate your thighs, squeezing them toward each other.
- Inhale and reach your tailbone toward your knees, creating space between your lower vertebrae. Lift your sternum and draw your elbows toward each other, allowing your rib cage to expand.
- Bring your right hand to rest on your right heel and then your left hand to your left heel.
- Lift your shoulders to allow the muscles between the shoulder blades to rise.
- To exit the posture, bring your hands to your hips and slowly lift your torso as you press the thighs down toward the floor.
This pose stretches the thighs and groins and opens the hips.
From Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, aligning the right knee over the heel. Lower your left knee to the floor.
Slide the left foot back until you feel a comfortable stretch. Turn the top of your left foot to the floor.
Inhale and lift your torso while sweeping your arms out and up. Draw your tailbone toward the floor and lift your chest.
Look up, being careful not to jam your neck. Reach your pinkies toward the ceiling. Hold for up to a minute.
Lizard pose stretches the outer hip (adductor) muscles, including the gluteus medius.
- From a high lunge, place both hands on the floor to the inside of your right foot.
- Hold here, or, for a deeper stretch, place your forearms onto the floor.
- Stay in the pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
Looking for a full practice for tight hip flexors? Check out this video, in which yoga teacher Jason Crandell guides you through a strong sequence of hip-opening lunges and standing poses designed to create greater flexibility, strength, and comfort in your lower body.