Back Stretches that Ease Stiffness & Increase Flexibility
8 Yoga Poses to Release the Tension in Your Hips After a Crazy-Stressful Day
Why it’ll make your hips happy:“Crescent lunge stretches your legs, groin, and hip flexors,” says Lyons. “You’re also forced to create stability and balance, so you’re strengthening and stretching your body.”
How to do it:From downward-facing dog, step one foot forward between your hands, aligning your knee over the heel. Keeping your back leg strong, lift your upper body, sweeping your arms overhead, palms facing in. Stack your joints—your shoulders are over the hips, your front knee over the front ankle, and the back heel over the ball mound of the back foot—and draw your low ribs in toward one another.
Why it’ll make your hips happy:“This is some intense toning and stretching for the back leg,” says Lyons. “...Stretchingandstrengthening the muscles helps with your posture. Developing strong hip flexors will allow you to stand up straighter, appear taller, and look more confident. If your hip flexors are tight, they’re going to pull you forward when you move.”
How to do it:From crescent lunge, tuck your back toe, firm up your back leg, and hold.
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Why it’ll make your hips happy:“This pose allows you to go a little bit deeper in the stretch than you did during crescent lunge,” says Lyons. “There’s more stretching now and less strengthening. It’s basically a modification, since you don’t need to add an element of balance. Consider it an ‘easier’ pose than crescent lunge, but it’s still super effective.”
How to do it:From crescent lunge, bring both hands to the ground on either side of your front foot. Drop your back knee to the ground, and lift your torso so your upper body is upright, placing your hands on your front leg for balance.
Why it’ll make your hips happy: “You’re getting a deep hip and back leg opening, and drawing the foot in stretches the front of the thigh all the way up into the hip,” says Lyons. “You’re hitting the stretch from all angles."
How to do it:From downward-facing dog, lift the right leg up toward the ceiling, and then draw the right knee toward the right wrist, placing it on the floor while bringing the right foot as close to the left wrist as possible. Keep the hips even and square to the front of the mat. Lean forward, keeping the feet active and the hips centered. Bend the left knee, catching the left foot with your left hand and drawing it in toward the hip, stretching the front of the thigh. At the same time, reach the left knee toward the back of the room and let your head rest on your right forearm.
Why it’ll make your hips happy:“Feel that stretch in your back quadriceps? You’re doing it right,” says Lyons. “This series strengthens and stretches your hip flexors and core muscles while opening the hips.”
How to do it:From half-pigeon, bring the upper body upright and bend your left knee. Catch your left foot with the left hand and draw it in toward the hips, keeping both hips squared toward the front of the mat. If possible, work the foot into the crux of the left elbow, and then take the right arm up and over to catch hands into a bind over your head.
Why it’ll make your hips happy:“This is an advanced pose, so proceed with caution and move into it very gently,” says Lyons. “It’s a giant hip opener—you’ll feel it.”
How to do it:Begin in hero pose, kneeling with thighs perpendicular to the floor and your inner knees touching. Slide the feet apart to slightly wider than hips-width distance apart, and the tops of the feet flat on the floor. Exhale and lower your back toward the floor, first leaning onto the hands, then the forearms and elbows. If possible, lean all the way back so your torso is on the ground with arms overhead.
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Why it’ll make your hips happy:“This extension gives you the opportunity to get a full stretch through both hips at the same time,” says Lyons.
How to do it:Kneel on the floor with knees hips-width distance apart and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Press the shins and tops of the feet firmly into the floor as you lift your heart and begin to lean back, keeping the chin near the sternum. Press your hips forward so they stay over your knees, and either keep your hands at your low back for support or grab your heels, pulling forward strongly from your hips.
Why it’ll make your hips happy:“This pose creates an extension of the spine and a push-and-pull opposition, creating stability and stretch,” says Lyons. “It’s also a time to practice your focus, drishti, and balance.” (Not to mention the fact that dancer’s pose is an Instagram fave.)
How to do it:From standing, shift your weight onto your right foot and lift your left heel toward your seat, bending the knee and grabbing the foot on the outside with your left hand. Begin to kick your left foot into your left hand to lift your leg toward the sky, reaching your right arm forward.
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