The Best Back And Hip Stretch You Should Be Doing

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One of the great things about yoga is that it’s an anywhere, anytime practice, so those challenging poses and feel-good stretches aren’t confined to a studio. Good news, because there’s nothing better than enjoying a relaxing pose while you’re hanging out Netflix-ing or waking up first thing in the morning—especially when that stretch is designed to help open up tight hips. Enter Happy Baby. This yoga pose is the ultimate back and hips stretch and it’s definitely worth trying.

“Happy Baby opens up and releases tension from your lower back, hips, calves, and inner thighs, while you’re relaxing in a reclining position,” says Dashama Konah Gordon, a FITFUSION trainer and the founder of Pranashama Yoga Institute. “It feels amazing and it’s accessible for most people to attempt safely while providing many benefits.”

Once you get into the pose, there are a couple of variations you can take: To focus on releasing your hips, you can hold still, says Gordon. Or, rock from side to side for a back massage that feels like you should be paying money for. You can also bring your feet together into more of a butterfly position to open your hips deeper, suggests Gordon. And if you’re extra flexible, you can straighten your legs (while still holding your feet) for a phenomenal hamstring stretch. Do it with your sneakers on or off, on a mat or while in bed—do what works best for you. Remember, if you ever feel any pain or are wondering if something will aggravate a specific injury, stop and check in with your doctor first.

Happy Baby is one of those poses that may seem weird while you’re getting into it (since, y’know, you haven’t been a baby in a while), but then again, it feels way too blissful to care, whether you’re at home or in the center of a crowded studio. Here’s how to do it.

Happy Baby

Valerie Fischel

  • Start faceup on your mat with both knees bent.
  • Lift your feet of the floor and grab the outside edges of your feet with your hands. Gently pull your feet toward your chest. Your knees will lower to the outside of your armpits. Try to keep your tailbone pressing against the floor, explains Gordon.
  • Hold here or take one of the variations mentioned above.
  • Stay in the pose anywhere from a few breaths up to five minutes, suggests Gordon. “The longer you can hold it, the greater progress you will make in your flexibility and to release stress and tension from your body,” she explains. “The ligaments and tendons in the inner thighs and hips tend to loosen gradually over time.”

One you get into the pose, you might never want to get out.

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