6 Yin Yoga Poses for Hip Flexor Stretch [Sequence Included]
Table of Contents
- Why Stretch and Strengthen Your Hip Flexors?
- 6 Yoga Poses to Stretch and Open Your Hips
- 15-Min Yin Yoga Sequence for Deep Hip Opening
- Benefits of Yin Yoga for Hip Flexors
- Wrapping Up
If your hips are tight, your entire body pays the price. Hip flexor stretch yoga targets this pivotal group of muscles that affect how you move daily.
Most yoga styles include hip flexor poses, but if you prefer relaxing, choose a yin sequence that includes restorative yoga poses for hips.
Why Stretch and Strengthen Your Hip Flexors?
The hip flexors are responsible for every step you take. They comprise a large muscle group that includes the psoas, iliacus, pectineus, sartorius, and rectus femoris. When these muscles are tight, your pelvis, groin area, thighs, and glutes can all suffer.
One of the most common complaints of tight hip flexors is back pain. Exercises to stretch and strengthen the back can help, but hip openers might ultimately bring you relief.
6 Yoga Poses to Stretch and Open Your Hips
Yoga poses for hip flexor muscles can help everyone, from brand-new yogis to advanced practitioners.
Yin yoga uses long holds to target the deep, connective tissue within the body. Yin yoga hip openers are usually beginner friendly and easily modified.
Explore yin yoga poses for hips not only to stretch your body but to find a deeper way to relax. Here are some simple yin hip openers that your body will love.
*Note: Yin poses are held longer than more dynamic yoga poses. Feel free to use blocks and bolsters to help you comfortably stay in the postures.
Low Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana)
Sometimes referred to as “Dragon Pose,” this posture opens the hip flexors by stretching the psoas, a primary muscle that runs from the spine, through the body, to the legs. Low lunge is a deeper stretch than the thigh lunge pose, in which the back knee is lifted up off the ground.
How to practice:
- Step your left leg back. Stack your right knee over your ankle. Depending on your flexibility, you may need to adjust the stance, stepping your left foot a little further back.
- Slowly lower the left knee to the ground. Feel free to lower the hands to the ground for more support. Allow the top of your left foot to rest on the mat. If your knee is sensitive, place a cushion underneath it.
- Place your hands on your right knee and lengthen your torso, keeping the breastbone lifted.
- Shift your hips slightly forward without pressing your front knee past your toes. Keep lengthening your spine and lifting your chest.
- To exit the pose, curl the left toes under, lift the left knee, and step the foot forward to meet the right. Repeat on the other side.
Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
This posture is also known as “Low Dragon Pose.” Featuring deeper hip flexion, this pose intensifies the psoas stretch in the back leg.
How to practice:
- Begin in a lunge position with your right leg forward.
- Move your right foot to the outer edge of your mat. Stack your knee over your ankle.
- Place your hands or forearms on the mat on the big toe side of your right foot. To deepen the pose, lower your forearms down to the ground. Feel free to place blocks or a bolster under your forearms if your hips feel tight.
- Pay attention to your breath and your pace — allow your hips to be heavy and gently descend to deepen the stretch. Ensure that your right knee stays over your ankle.
- To exit, bring your hands to the mat and return to the lunge. Step forward, and then switch to the other side.
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Garland Pose (Malasana)
Malasana is also known as “yogic squat.” It opens the hip flexors on both sides of the body simultaneously.
How to practice:
- Begin standing with your feet wider than hip distance apart, on or close to the edges of your mat, with your heels turned in and toes turned out.
- Slowly lower the hips down towards the mat into a squat. Engage your legs and core, so you do not collapse into the pose.
- Place your palms at your heart center, broaden your collarbones, and press your elbows into the inner thighs.
- Find buoyancy from the arches of your feet to your pelvic floor. Lengthen your spine, lifting from the crown of your head.
- You can sit on a block (or two) or a bolster if your hips are tight. To exit, press your feet and straighten your legs to stand up.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
This backbend is a great yoga hip flexor stretch that helps stabilize and open the hip joints.
How to practice:
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet placed firmly on the mat about hip distance apart.
- Line up your feet in front of your glutes. Press your arms down by your sides and your feet into the mat and begin to raise your hips slowly upwards, one vertebra at a time — lower back, middle back, and upper back.
- Use your hands, a block, or a bolster to support your body for more relaxation.
- To exit the pose, incrementally lower your spine to the floor — upper back, middle back, and lower back.
Saddle Pose (Supta Virasana)
Also called “Reclined Hero Pose,” this posture targets the hip flexors but requires great flexibility and healthy knees for full expression. Only recline as far as you feel comfortable, and utilize blocks and bolsters for extra support.
How to practice:
- Begin in a kneeling position, sitting on or in between your heels. You might sit up on a block or two if your hips or knees are tight. Start to lean backwards, using your hands on the ground to support you.
- You can stay more upright and high on your hands or lower slowly to your forearms. Only recline entirely onto your back if this is accessible for your body without straining. You might consider placing a bolster lengthwise underneath your spine for extra height and support.
- If you choose to lie all the way down on your back, you may extend your arms overhead, rest them on your thighs, or alongside your body.
- To release from the pose, engage your core and use your arms to guide yourself back up.
Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana II)
How to practice:
This classic stretch is a staple in many styles of yoga, including yin. It effectively lengthens the psoas in addition to increasing external rotation in the hip sockets.
- Begin in a low lunge position with the right leg forward.
- Start to walk the right foot towards the left side of the mat.
- Keeping the right foot flexed, lower the shin and thigh towards the mat. You may bring the foot closer to the groin to modify and lessen the intensity or keep the shin more parallel to the top edge of the mat to deepen the stretch.
- Keep the back leg extended while resting the knee and the top of the foot on the mat.
- Attentively, fold over your front leg. This increases the intensity of the stretch, so move slowly with your breath. If you do forward fold, you can rest your forehead on your palms, a block, or a bolster.
- If you experience discomfort or difficulty with this pose, consider placing a block, cushion, or bolster underneath your right hip and/or left thigh.
- To exit, come back onto your hands and curl the back toes under. Lift the back knee into lunge, step forward, and switch to the other side.
15-Min Yin Yoga Sequence for Deep Hip Opening
Unlike the fast-moving postures in an active Vinyasa practice, yin yoga poses offer long, slow, and deep holds. Use YogaGo, a yoga app, to customize your practice, or enjoy our yin sequence for hips below.
These hip openers will make you feel relaxed and open in about 15 minutes.
- Bridge Pose — Hold for 2-3 minutes
- Low Lunge Pose — Hold for 90 seconds-2 minutes each side
- Lizard Pose — Hold for 90 seconds-2 minutes each side
- Pigeon Pose — Hold for 90 seconds-2 minutes each side
- Garland Pose — Hold for 1-2 minutes
- Saddle Pose — Hold for 1-2 minutes
Advanced practitioners may double the hold times for each pose. Yin poses for hips (and most parts of the body) can be held for up to 5 minutes. Listen to your body, and be sure to modify and use props to bring a sense of ease to your practice.
If you want to practice longer with more active poses, check out this 15-minute yin-yang yoga sequence.
Benefits of Yin Yoga for Hip Flexors
There are plenty of perks to having happy hips. Practice these hip flexor yoga stretches to
- Improve overall posture
- Promote a stable core
- Reduce lower back pain
- Increase hip, thigh, and pelvis flexibility
- Support hip mobility that affects daily movements like walking, running, standing, and sitting
- Decrease risk of injury
- Improve athletic performance
You can use hip flexor stretch yoga to soothe cranky hips and feel better from head to toe.
- Active styles of yoga can target the hips, but a yin sequence will be relaxing and restorative.
- The hip flexors, which include the psoas, iliacus, pectineus, sartorius, and rectus femoris, are the muscle group responsible for hip flexion, which is any movement that brings the leg forward, such as walking, sitting, squatting, or bending from the hip.
- Tight hip flexors can cause discomfort throughout the body.
- Yin poses are long, deep stretches that are beginner-friendly and easily modified or intensified.