If you sit a lot, your hip flexors could get tight and shorten, which can cause lower back problems. It's also important for runners, walkers and cyclists to stretch them out. Try out these yoga moves from Mind Body Green to get your hip flexors open and loose.
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana): Low lunge is ideal for those who find balancing difficult. This stretch focuses on the hips, groin and quadriceps. From standing, exhale and step your left foot back and lower it to the floor with your hands framing your front foot. You can bring your hands to blocks or to the floor, just be sure to keep your right foot between your hands, and directly below your knee. Inhale and lift your chest to reach up and forward, pressing the shoulder blades in against the back. Keeping your hips square, draw the tailbone down and gently pull your belly in toward your spine. Hold here or for a deeper stretch, inhale and reach the arms over the head with your palms facing in. Be mindful to lift out of the pelvis so you don't jam the lower back.
Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana Variation): Crescent lunge opens the front of the body, extends the spine and builds leg strength and balance. The psoas muscle of the main hip flexor is targeted, as the thigh bone moves away from the lower back. The nervous system is awakened and the heart is opened. From Low Lunge, tuck the back toes and exhale as you lift the back knee off the floor and stand up into the pose. Feet are hip width apart and both toes face forward. Start with your hands on your hips and bend the front knee to 90 degrees, with your knee over the ankle and hips pointing straight ahead. Keep the back leg bent if the hamstrings are tight, and only straighten if you can keep the pelvis square to the front of your mat. Draw the left hip forward and right hip back to keep the hips square, and tuck your tailbone to keep the pelvis from tipping forward. For more extension, inhale and raise the arms, hands apart and palms facing in, and soften the shoulders.
Warrior I (Virabradhasana I): In Warrior I, the turned-out toes of the back foot increases hip flexion. If you press into the outer edge of your back foot, you will notice the hips square off more easily. This pose builds strength and steadiness, as it increases body awareness, improves circulation and energizes the entire body. From Crescent Lunge, drop the back foot to 45 degrees and soften the shoulders away from the ears. Inhale and reach the arms above the head and soften the shoulders away from the ears. Exhale to soften into the front bent knee, keeping it at 90 degrees. For a deeper stretch try reaching the right hand toward the floor and feel the hip flexor get a bit more love!
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