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Stretch for Self-Care: The Benefits of Hip-Opening Stretches

There are more than 20 muscles that make up our hip flexors. These muscles support us daily, giving us physical power in sports like running, swimming, and climbing, and supporting our back, taking on that load. This puts a lot of pressure on our hips every single day. By focusing on stretching our muscles and opening our hips flexors we can drastically improve our overall quality of life. Not only do opening our hips help with general mobility and circulation, but we store a lot of trauma in our hips. Opening these up can be an extremely emotional process. Physically stretching our hips helps decrease the load on our back and greatly improve our overall body feel, and emotionally, we release trauma that may be holding us back.  

Here are five basic hip flexor stretches to get focused on getting in touch with ourselves, physically and emotionally. While doing any yoga pose focus on maintaining your breathing and getting into a relaxed state. 

1. Child’s Pose

Start by kneeling on the floor with your arms extended in front of you on the ground, with your chest to the ground as well. While you are doing this bring your big toes together and spread out your knees. Bring your hips back and rest your butt on your heels.  

2. Figure 4  

Start by laying on your back. Bring your knees up in line with your hips. Then bring one ankle across to the other knee forming the figure four. Hold onto the back of the leg supporting the other and pull it towards your chest to feel the stretch. Switch sides. 

3. Pigeon

Start by placing one leg in front of you, bending at the knee across your body. The other leg should be extended behind your body stabilizing itself on your toes. Bring your chest to your thigh in front and hold the stretch here. Switch sides.  

4. Butterfly

Sit on the floor with your knees bent in so your feet are touching each other. To increase the intensity, lean forward into the stretch walking your hands out in front, or push down on your thighs slightly.  

5. Couch stretch

 Set yourself up against a wall. Put your left leg up on the wall that way it is parallel and flush to the wall. Set your right leg up in front of you as if you were doing a forward lunge, knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Lean into the stretch and switch sides.  

Our hips are associated with the sacral chakra, this is our creative center. It’s linked to how we relate to our emotions as well as to the emotions of those around us. By focusing on opening our hips and stretching them out we can become more intact with our inner selves through our emotions, and our external selves through mobility and flexibility. Hip-opening stretches can bring about a lot of emotional releases, making them a fan favorite in the yoga world. This 10-minute stretching routine has changed my life for the better! 

Holly Hanscom is a junior at Loyola University Maryland studying Communication with a specialization in advertising and public relations with a minor in marketing. In her free time you'll likely find her hiking with friends or family, reading a new book, or trying new recipes.
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