Hip Flexor Health For Better Movement

Hip Flexor Health for Better Movement

stretch

HIP FLEXOR HEALTH FOR BETTER MOVEMENT

Healthy hip flexor muscles are associated with both stretch and strength. Although we’re going to focus more heavily on strength in this article, always note that both strength and flexibility are imperative for increased health within the muscles that make up the hip flexors and the muscles overall. Unfortunately, because the hip flexors are a challenging area for many, they are sometimes given short shrift or executed with little intention in our yoga practice. Matt reminds us that the hip flexors are the initiators of forward movement, so facing the challenge is essential in order to reap the benefits.

In today’s video, Matt provides accessible options to incorporate into our yoga practice. These actions and drills, when practiced consistently over time, transform our experience on the mat and in our everyday movement.

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MOVEMENT IS A MUST

“Those who move more frequently have less occurrence of blood clots, frozen joints, cartilage degeneration, impaired digestion, metabolic disease and even skin problems”.

Humans Have a Basic Physical and Psychological Need to Move the Body: Physical Activity as a Primary Drive

We implement movement into our daily lives, so without even knowing any of the specific scientific benefits (as listed above), we still know what they are because we experience the positive aftereffects. Some of the benefits we experience include the following:

  • increased energy levels
  • better sleep
  • improved mental health

Strong, healthy hip flexor muscles literally initiate movement and drive us forward. It’s the action of hip flexion that allows us to do things like walk, run, and skip. Strengthening our hip flexor muscles will ultimately help us to move forward in a more efficient way.

WATCH THE VIDEO

HIP FLEXOR HEALTH FOR BETTER MOVEMENT: 5 DRILLS TO BUILD STRENGTH & LENGTH

DRILLS FOR PRONE PRESS AND BOAT POSE

Prone Press

The actions involved in this drill help us feel a connection to our hip flexor muscles. There are 2 variations to explore:

  1. In a prone position, we bend the first leg and press the knee into the ground. This promotes the sensation of activation. The second leg lifts but remains straight.
  2. The second variation adds more intensity by abducting the arms and lifting the torso.

Boat Pose Drills

The variations Matt teaches here offer a challenge for our hip flexor muscles.  

  1. The first one calls upon us to move in a way that forces us to be very intentional about initiating the movement with the hip flexors, as opposed to emphasizing the core.  
  2. Maintaining hip flexion while extending each leg all the way up is humbling. It’s also very telling about the amount of work that is required.
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PYRAMID & “DANDASANA-LIKE” LEG LIFTS

Pyramid Leg Lifts

If it’s a challenge we’re looking for, this is it! Once we are set up in this Pyramid variation with dorsiflexion in the front foot, we then actively lift the front leg up towards the chest. Even if there is a generous amount of strength present, it will be possible but still challenging. If we have less strength here, the front leg may not even lift up. Something important to note is that even if the leg doesn’t lift, the movement will still activate the hip flexor muscles.  

“Dandasana-Like” Leg Lifts

The variations within these leg lifts offer a nice controlled way of promoting strength in the hip flexor muscles. You’ll see in the video that a simple change in angle of the leg will help target the psoas, pectineus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, or gracilis.

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  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

STRETCH IT OUT

As much as strength is imperative for the health of our hip flexor muscles in terms of improved movement, we must also incorporate opportunities to stretch these muscles in our yoga practice, even between strengthening drills.

The delicious stretch Matt offers in the video is laid out in 4 stages, targeting first a stretch of the quadricep muscles, all the way up to the psoas in the final stage.

Selecting stages, or gradually going through all of them, can offer relief from the strengthening drills, but we shouldn’t underestimate the challenges that come with lengthening as well.

In Matt’s next workshop, Hip Release, he’ll guide us through specific postures, drills, and techniques for the hips. We’ll learn to stretch and to extend our understanding of our own bodies in order to have a greater effect on our yoga practice and to improve our movement overall.

The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Move Immersion

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Pigeon Leg Lifts

Pigeon Leg Lifts

Ignite Your Core-Hip Connection

pigeon drill

PIGEON LEG LIFTS

Pigeon Leg Lifts are the perfect example of how you can flip a common yoga posture on its head. You may have explored several variations of Pigeon Pose, but this out-of-the-ordinary drill/variation requires something quite different. Pigeon Leg Lifts boost your ability to feel how much of a role the psoas plays in how you experience your core. In fact, the psoas is considered to be part of the core, but it is not always part of the conversation. Its location in the body, combined with the knowledge of how to highlight it in your yoga practice, helps to bridge the gap between your core and hips. Tapping into this results in greater strength and stability in your yoga practice.

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  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
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  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
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THE PSOAS 

The iliopsoas (often referred to as the psoas) is actually a combination of two muscles, namely the iliacus and psoas major, but is often thought of as one. It’s unique in that it’s the only muscle in the body that crosses over between the upper and lower body. The psoas is a deep muscle that attaches to the lumbar spine and the inner thigh bone. Due to its location in the body, one of its main roles is to stabilize the lumbar spine. The psoas is both a hip flexor and external rotator of the hip, playing a significant role in how you move, on and off of the yoga mat. Contracting this muscle in Pigeon Leg Lifts promotes deeper range of motion and helps you connect more deeply with the abdominal muscles that are part of the core (i.e., rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques).

WATCH THE VIDEO

PIGEON LEG LIFTS:  IGNITE YOUR CORE-HIP CONNECTION

THE CORE-HIP CONNECTION

The psoas works in conjunction with the other core muscles. As mentioned, it’s both a hip flexor and hip external rotator, but it also creates flexion of the spine. Spinal flexion is an entry point to understanding the core-hip connection. In my previous blog, Rectus Abdominis Handstand Drill, I discussed how Matt very intentionally utilizes the activation of rectus abdominis in order to create spinal flexion. Both the psoas’s ability to create the same action and the placement of its attachment points reveal that the psoas is essentially a bridge between the core and the legs. Understanding the link between the core and the hips has the ability to transform your yoga practice.

Activation and strengthening of the psoas is not often illuminated in unique ways in yoga classes. Practicing Pigeon Leg Lifts offers the opportunity to heighten the sensations within the core and the hips.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

  • Deepen your yoga practice
  • Build confidence speaking in front of groups in person and online
  • Learn foundational class structures and templates
  • Learn techniques for a wide range of yoga postures
  • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

WAYS TO EXPLORE PIGEON LEG LIFTS

In today’s video, Matt demonstrates 2 ways to execute Pigeon Leg Lifts. In the 1st option, you’ll see that it’s almost like a “push-up” action with multiple repetitions. The pushing up, however, comes from driving your hips up as far away from your mat as possible. In both options, your arms stay straight, but the 2nd requires that after you lift your hips, you sustain and hold for a few breaths. If you’re looking to fire up the core, then Pigeon Leg Lifts will do it!  You can’t escape the intensity of what’s involved. As you lift your hips all the way up, you are simultaneously creating more spinal flexion while your front upper thigh is in external rotation to maintain the “Pigeon position.” If that’s not enough, the action of pressing down the ball mound of the back foot also ignites the psoas and the hip flexors of the back thigh.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

Master your skill set as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques, theming, yoga business, and much more!

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

WHY IS THIS USEFUL?

The strengthening of the core, including the psoas, along with deeper spinal flexion is no doubt the “show stopper” of these Pigeon Leg Lifts. Doing this drill will promote greater stability and mobility for enhanced movement on and off of the mat. What’s incredible about the way Matt teaches is that he always provides a compassionate push. In the full class, he says that deliberately engaging muscles in your practice helps you understand what you struggle with the most. Once revealed, this understanding provides opportunities to work on those areas in order to achieve fuller body participation. Within all of this physical awareness, what ends up happening is an unfolding of the mind. Your ability to confront your perceived limitations also strengthens.

Join Matt’s Breath of Fire Immersion to experience the fullness of your practice.

See you on the mat!

The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Breath of Fire Immersion

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

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read more
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Hip Flexor Health for Better MovementstretchHIP FLEXOR HEALTH FOR BETTER MOVEMENT Healthy hip flexor muscles are associated with both stretch and strength. Although we’re going to focus more heavily on strength in this article, always note that both strength and...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe, You Will Get Instant Access to

  • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
  • exclusive online course discounts
  • exclusive blogs and videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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