A blissful beach run a few days ago had my hips feeling stiff and sore yesterday morning. I took a wonderful vinyasa class sequenced just for the hips (my luck!) which definitely emphasized how un-open mine were!
No matter what your daily activities include– running, biking, or sitting at a desk– chances are you have experienced tightness in the hip flexors. The hip flexors are the group of muscles that allow your legs to lift and engage in forward movement. When this group of muscles isn’t properly stretched and lengthened, problems like back and knee pain may ensue. In addition to the anatomical focus, our hips are said to hold our stress and negative emotions (and we all have plenty of those!). Commonly referred to as “the junk drawer” or “the body’s attic,” many of us store feelings of guilt, anger, fear and sadness in the pelvis. Practicing poses that work on opening and releasing stagnant energy or Prana can help release these emotions. Here’s how to do pigeon post to make your hips happy!
Hip openers can be the most challenging of postures, but can also become some of the most rewarding and satisfying! When the pose begins to feel intense, breathe into those spaces of resistance. Instead of backing out, relax into it and see where you can soften the pose.
To begin, start in downward facing dog. Bring the right leg in between your hands and begin to move the right foot over towards your left wrist. Drop the right knee on the floor behind your right wrist and move your shin so that is it parallel (as much as possible) to the front edge of your mat. Flex your right foot to engage the ankle muscles and protect the knee. Stretch the left leg back, straightening the knee and bringing the thigh to the floor. Bring your left hip point forward to keep both hips in alignment. Position the right heel in front of the left hip.
Before folding over your right leg, sit up tall and energetically feel into the midline of your body. If you are engaging in midline energy, your hips should raise off the floor a little and you should feel stable and buoyant with your fingertips grazing the floor on either side of you.
Take a deep inhale and lengthen the spine before exhaling and laying your torso down on the inner right thigh for a few breaths. You can make a pillow with your hands for your forehead or you can stretch your arms forward. Stay here for 1-2 minutes.
Slide your hands back toward the front shin and push your fingertips firmly to the floor. Lift your torso away from the thigh and press back into a one legged downward facing dog (right leg lifts). It feels nice to take a few hip circles after pigeon to get the energy in the hips flowing and flush out any toxins (and negative emotions) that have found themselves hibernating in there!
Pigeon might be uncomfortable and challenging but I promise your hips will thank you later. See you and your happy hips next week! Namaste.