If you hike, ski, run, bike, walk, and/or sit at a desk, chances are that you have tight hip flexors. Hip flexors allow for forward movement and the ability to lift the leg up. They are made of three different muscles – psoas major, illiacus, and rectus femoris(part of the quads). At the end of the day, stretching is probably the last thing on your mind, but spending a few minutes in a couple of these poses will prevent injury and even boost your performance and make you feel more comfortable in your daily life.
In yoga for hips, hip openers often coincide with emotional release. The hips stabilize us in our daily life and are said to store strong emotions of anxiety, sadness, depression, and being guarded. Whether the mind-body connection is apparent to you or not, you may be caught off guard with emotional release from time to time during and after several hip openers.
Some of the following asanas are restful and I don’t want to ever move out of the pose. Others are a little more intense, my breathing rate increases, I start to fidget, and all I want to do is move out of it.
It is absolutely okay to modify these poses. If you are too stubborn to modify, try to remember the reason of doing the pose to begin with: injury prevention and release. By brutally forcing yourself into one of these asanas when the body is not ready to go there, it can and will eventually lead to injury. It is NOT a competition.
How long should you stay in a pose? Some practices have you in the poses for minutes while others are just a few breaths. To start, aim for a minimum of 7 full breaths. Breathe in to a count of 3 and out to a count of 3. Breathe through your nose and fill your lungs all the way to the bottom and exhale all the air out through the nose at the same rate you inhaled. Breathe into the areas of tension. Conscious breaths will help the body release. Work up to staying in the poses for longer. If you have a hard time sitting still, turn on some music you like or do it with a friend or spouse.
One of my favorite yoga instructors, Tunde Borrego, agreed to be my model for the poses. I take her classes at CorePower and what shines about her classes is her bubbly energy, her happiness that brightens the room, and her ability to keep it fun. Plus, she is a handstand master and is gorgeous!