When you’re in your 20s, you may not feel the need to stretch too much since your joints are still quite flexible and well lubricated. But as you age and your activity levels go down, muscles become weaker and joints tend to stiffen up. Regular stretching helps loosen, tone, and flex the muscles around your joints. Stretching also helps keep the joint lubricated and increases their range of motion. Here are 7 yoga stretches to keep your hips flexible and active.
1. Pigeon Stretch
This stretch targets the adductors while opening the hips and lengthens the quad muscles, increasing strength and flexibility in the upper legs and hips.
Begin by kneeling upright. Straighten your right leg out behind you, keeping your knee on the floor. Place your fingertips on the floor on either side of your knees and push your hips lower toward the floor, so your groin approaches your left foot.
Hold this pose for 30 seconds before repeating on the opposite side.
2. Single-Leg Prone Split
This stretch targets the abductors and deeply opens the hips and groin while lengthening the hamstrings.
Lie on your back with your legs straight. Keeping your right leg straight, extend it up to your side, reaching hold of your ankle with your right hand.
Continue to pull your leg higher up to your right side, into a half-split pose. Hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing and attempting with the opposite leg.
3. Goddess Squat
Start in Mountain Pose at the front of your mat. Step your right foot a stride length towards the back of your mat. Turn your toes out and your heels in, so your feet land at a 45-degree angle.
Bend your knees deeply out the sides and sink your hips down to the height of your knees. Bring your arms out at shoulder height and bend your elbows so that your fingertips point skyward.
Engage your core muscles and draw your tailbone in the direction of the floor. Do not hunch forward with your shoulders; keep your spine long and your muscles engaged. Stay here for 30 seconds to one minute, then step forward to Mountain Pose.
4. Extended Four-Limbs Staff Pose
This stretch targets the abductors, opens the hips, and stretches the outer length of the legs and hips.
Begin on all fours, with your palms flat on the floor and your toes raised behind you. Extend your right leg straight out to the side, resting your right foot flat on the floor.
Press your hips down toward the floor to increase the stretch. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before releasing and performing with the other leg.
5. Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend Pose
Begin by sitting on the floor, legs far apart and toes flexed upward. Clasp your hands together, palms facing outward, and extend your arms overhead.
Lower your torso forward and rest your forehead and hands on the floor. Hold this pose for 15 seconds.
6. Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose
This stretch opens the abductors and deeply opens the hips and lengthens the adductors while improving balance.
Stand straight, holding the back of a chair at your left side. Lift your right knee into your chest, and grab hold of your foot with your right hand.
Slowly straighten your leg up along your side, into a standing split. Keep your hand on your foot and lean your torso to the left. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before alternating sides.
7. Happy Baby Pose
Keep your upper arms plugged into your shoulder sockets. Stack each ankle directly over the knee, so that your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex your feet. Draw your knees towards the floor with your hands while keeping your sacrum flat on your mat.
Your feet can push slightly into the hands to offer a bit of resistance. Your elbows will bend out to either side.