We all have yoga poses can be a challenge. Generally, this is due to overactive muscles. Whether just due to lack of flexibility/stretching, or from habit patterns of modern life. When coming into poses with hip extension the tight hip flexors and quads can be a problem.
The standard quad stretch (standing with one foot up to the butt) is ok for the quad. But, doesn’t really target the hip flexors. To target the hips we need more hip extension in our stretch. In this video I discuss Yoga poses needing hip extension. And, the best stretches for tight hip flexors and quads. Plus, three variations of the half kneeling quad & hip flexor stretch.
The video has all the variations of the stretch in this post. You can view the video on YouTube. Maybe add it to a playlist? Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel. I upload new videos every Tuesday and Friday. For exclusive longer format videos sign up for my Patreon community.
Why do we need hip extension?
I guess first I should talk about what hip extension is! Simply put it’s lengthening along the front of the hip. Either the thigh is opening back, and/or the torso is leaning back. We use hip extension a lot in yoga in poses like warrior 1, camel, and dancer.
It’s also worth noting that we have hip extension when we walk or crawl so it’s a completely natural movement. The problem is that our unnatural pattern of sitting for long periods of time can wreak havoc on our hip flexors.
Half kneeling stretch for tight hip flexors
The half kneeling stretch is the basic exercise for stretching tight hip flexors. This is your classic low lunge. Both knees bent, with the front foot on the floor, and the back knee on the floor. The hips coming slightly forward from that back knee. To ensure hip extension it’s important the torso remain upright.
A slightly more challenging variation would be to elevate the back leg. We can do this a few ways. I advise caution and baby steps! Begin by elevating the ankle on a block or bolster.
This simple elevation adds more length into the quad. You could also take the knee further back away from the front foot.
More challenging variations
If you’re doing ok with the low lunge then move onto a more challenging version. For this we’re going to elevate that back leg higher! I’m using a wall here, but I’ve used a chair, stool or sofa before. Anything with some height. It’s a little tricky to get into (as shown in video above) but it’s a killer stretch for the quad and hip flexor.
No wall? No worries! Can you lift and grab a hold of the back foot? If not available maybe use a strap, towel or belt. Again supporting the back knee is paramount here as it can get uncomfortable when you’re holding the stretch.
The ultimate stretch for tight hip flexors
So, maybe you found your stretch and you’re ok staying with that version. But, for those that are ready for a little more we can add in a back bend. This could be as simple as using the wall to elevate the back leg and reaching back with the hands. All the while, you’re reaching the pelvis forward.
For more length, keep the pelvis forward but reach the opposite arm overhead. Right leg back, left arm up. Because, this allows length through the diagonal fascial lines of the body.
Also, it avoids the rotation (compensation) that would happen if you took the same arm back. Our body will take the path of least resistance if you let it. And if lengthening is your goal that’s not necessarily what we want.
So those are some variations of the low lunge to help stretch tight flexors. This post is a companion piece to the “Deep Stretch for Splits” class I did this month for my Patreon community. You can get access to the video right now by signing up, plus 20 other longer format videos.
- Do you have tight quads or hips?
- What muscles are tight for you?
- Can you do the splits?