The average Americans find themselves sitting more than is really healthy for their bodies. So while you may not be an excessive sitter, you likely know someone who is. Most people will benefit from this basic hip flexor stretch that has variations for different bodies.
The hip flexors are the muscles in the front of the hip that bring the knee closer to the body when we walk, run, sit, and curl-up. The major hip flexors are the psoas and the quadriceps. A common cause of some types of low back pain is tight hip flexors. In our Yoga practice we move through variations quadricep stretches, lunges, and back bends to lengthen and release tension from these powerful forward movers. While there are dramatic poses that help expand the hip flexors range of motion, a basic thigh stretch is perfect for everyday body balance.
For a great basic hip flexor stretch, come standing on one leg (If balance is an issue – either stand and hold onto something, the wall – a chair, or sit down.)* Bend your other leg back behind you and catch your foot with your hand or a strap. Note that probably your back will arch and your hips will move forward. This happens when the psoas is tight. To stretch your psoas, which connects your thigh to your low back, you need to scoop your tailbone down, and under, WHILE keeping the vertebrae lifting up. You should have a gentle concave curve in your lumbar spine. Keep these key points in mind: tops of thighs move back, tailbone moves down WHILE the low belly and low back work to extend in and up toward each other. Breathe deep – drop judgement – encourage expansion and inner freedom to feel the Yoga at work.
*My photo posting is limited here, so pop on over to http://flourishandshineyoga.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/stand-up-and-stretch/
for the full tutorial. You’ll find both easier modifications and a few inspirations for more advanced asana practitioners.
With love and light, Kate