Loosen Up! How Hip Openers Can Improve Your Daily Routine
Some mornings, the hilarity of how hard it is to walk downstairs to make coffee overcomes me. It can sound like Frankenstein himself is hobbling down for his morning cup. Most often this happens after a sedentary day of sitting around or working at my desk. Our bodies can become so stiff as we sit or lay down that our entire mobility is affected. We can easily go from loose and free to stiff and tight! Stress, and we all know how stressful daily life can be, can also settle in our hips and affect our hip flexor muscles.
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints as we age. When our hip flexors are tight, we can too heavily rely on our spine to carry the load, causing lower back pain. I have a distinct memory of how painful holding my infant son was after he was born. My lower back would ache so badly, I often had to pass him to another. Starting daily yoga stretches was instrumental in gaining back that strength and mobility for me and begin to enjoy holding him again. Something so simple and easy can give you such a huge reward: the ability to be comfortable in your activities of daily living such as carrying a basket of laundry, getting in and out of your car, bending to tie your shoes, or walking down the stairs. We want to move freely and pain free in our lives, right!?
You either love or dread hip opening yoga poses, but all can agree how amazing you can feel after doing them. The muscles that we work during hip flexor stretches are the psoas and the iliacus. These muscles are the first to feel stress and fear. Often they get tight and we don’t even realize it. So many yoga poses can be called “hip openers”, but there are a few that target these two muscles and are easy enough for any level yogi. They can feel amazing when done correctly and regularly.
Doing a Happy Baby pose always puts a smile on my face. Lay on your back and grab your outer feet/heels as though you were an infant first discovering your feet. Rock back and forth and release the stress. Let gravity pull your hips downward toward the mat. You too will smile when you feel this happy hip opener!
Another fun and great beginner pose is Bow Pose. It’s a great stretch for so many areas, but works deeply on the iliacus and psoas. With your abs to the mat, reach your arms back and your feet up and grab your feet on the top as though you were a bow for an arrow. Pull on your feet for an even deeper stretch.
Even the beloved Child’s Pose is a wonderful hip opener. It’s a delightful stretch that can be done at any level or flexibility. Simply kneel with your knees apart and reach your hands in front of you to the mat and inch forward, opening your hips at your stretch toward the ground. Let your belly hang down between your legs. Pure yogi heaven!
Pigeon Pose is a challenge for some, but is the king of hip openers. With your hip to the mat, place one leg behind you, toe pointed. The other leg bring forward knee first. Then place your foot at an angle towards opposite hip and press into the stretch. It feels absolutely incredible!
Performing these simple hip opener stretches will improve your daily routine in all aspects. Physical activities will seem easier, and your stress level will improve. If nothing else, doing these stretches in the morning before work or before bed can greatly increase your flexibility and improve circulation. Your spine will certainly thank you for lightening the load! Book a class at Blend Cafe & Yoga and learn how to properly do these poses with one of our incredible yoga instructors!