In the very beginning of my yoga practice, the hamstring was my biggest enemy. Luckily, it didn’t take too long before I could do a split (special thanks to my mom for forcing me to dance classes when I was young). Just when I thought that my body is pretty malleable, my tight hips brought me back to the reality. The amount of pain when I get into the half pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) when I was in one of the yoga class was unbelievable. I still remember that how a “resting” pose made my heart beat so fast and every second in that pose, every each of my hips was screaming!
In our yoga theory class, we learnt that hip flexors is also known as iliopsoas, mainly consist of psoas major and iliacus muscle. As psoas major is originated from lumbar vertebrae 1 through 5 and inserted all the way into prominence of the proximal femur, the move of such muscle will lead to a combined move of the lower back, pelvis and hip. Thus, our hip flexors, as the name suggested, help us flex our hips. It, on the other hand, limits the range of movement of our hips. A tight hip flexor also leads to the potential problems to the hip joints and lower back.
One of the most common reason for our tight hip flexors is the extended hours sitting in the office and without proper stretching so that the hip flexors shortened and tightened. In a long run, such tightness may cause severe pain and limited movement of the hip joint.
Here is a list of yoga poses that may help with hip opening:
- Happy baby pose ( probably not so happy of a baby if your hip flexor is tight)
Most common mistakes that I have seen in this pose is students tend to lift up their lower backs. A lifted back contracts the hip flexor which contradicts to the purposes of such pose (stretching). So always make sure that the lower back is on the ground will facilitate the stretching.
- Reclined bound angle pose
Same to happy baby pose, actively press down the lower back in the pose will give a better result of the hip flexor stretching.
- Frog pose (the pose makes cry every time I’m in it…)
This is a pose that looks simple but is a totally hip flexor killer. When in the pose, make sure that the hips parallel to the knee, not passing or behind.
- Thread the needle
- Half pigeon
- Double pigeon (fire log pose)
Other intense hip flexor stretch
- Low/high lunges
The end goal of this pose is to reach the front part of the back thigh to the mat. For beginners, it all starts with knee touching the mat. However, with active pressing the front of the thigh, it gives an intense stretch to the hip flexor so that eventually, the front of the back thigh touch the floor.
- Lizard pose
Common mistake in the lizard pose is the knee in the front rotate outwards. When in lizard pose, actively hugging in the knee towards the midline is a key for hip flexor stretching.
Last but the least: stand up from your office desk and walk around at least every hour of work will be super helpful!
Hip opening may be slow as other than the hip flexor, gluteus muscles and hamstrings may also play a role. I have been practicing the most of the above for 2 months and I can see the progress.
Practice and all is coming!