Yoga for Hip Flexors

Elizabeth Gregg

Your hip flexors can tighten as a result of an abnormal tilt of the pelvis and from too much sitting. Also, “biking, running, and activities where you are in a hunched-over position lead to tight hip flexors because the muscle is being shortened,” says De West, yoga therapist at the Yoga Workshop in Boulder, Colorado. Helping these muscles relax can improve lower-back pain, digestion, and alignment. It can be hard for people to find their flexors, explains West, and for some, these muscles are so tight that they’re difficult to stretch. Find yours: While sitting, push your thumb into the crease between your thigh and torso and then lift your leg off the floor a few inches. You should feel your hip flexor activate. These poses from West will help you massage your hip flexors as well as loosen them up.

Belly Bolster. Take a yoga blanket, and fold it in half once; then fold it in half again. Along the long side, accordion-fold it so it’s 4 or 5 inches wide. Flip it over once. Lie face down, with your arms cradling your forehead and the blanket pressing just above your pubis on your lower belly. Gently rock side to side, massaging the area around your hip flexors.

Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana). Start on all fours—knees under hips, hands slightly ahead of shoulders. Bring your right knee forward between your hands; drop your shin to floor, right heel wide of your left hip (about a 45-degree angle). Slide your left leg straight back behind you, coming into a half split. Rotate the left leg in slightly so that the top of the thigh, knee, and shin are as flat as possible on the floor. Drop your right sit bone and hip toward the mat. Lift your torso, broaden your collarbones, relax your shoulders down your back, and lift your breastbone. Prop yourself up with your hands. If this stretch feels intense, stay here for 5 to 7 breaths. If you need a deeper stretch, bend your left knee, and grab your ankle with your left hand. Gently pull your heel toward your buttocks, and take a few deep breaths before releasing your ankle. Repeat on the other side.