If you have ever been to a yoga practice the teacher will usually open up the session by asking for requests. I almost always hear someone in th class say, “hip openers!” Why are we so tight in our hips and what can we do to ease some of this tension?
…modern life requires sitting all day, which keeps your hips from the rotation, flexion, and extension they need to remain agile. Second, common sports such as running and cycling—and even an everyday activity like walking—demand hip strength but not flexibility. The third culprit is stress, which creates tension in your body, especially in your hip area, which is a complex cluster of powerful muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Even a little bit of stress-induced clenching can really lock them up.-yogajournal.com
Benefits of practicing this pose include increases in external range of motion of the femur in the hip socket and a lengthening of the hip flexors. Here is a great article on the debate of understanding if you can actually lengthen your muscles.
How to do Pigeon Pose:
The first stage of the pose elongates the hip flexors of your back leg and creates a mild backbend. It’s also the time to establish stability in your pelvis before moving into the second stage.
1. Start on all fours, placing your hands directly below your shoulders, and your knees below your hips. Bring your right knee forward until it touches your right wrist, keeping your right thigh parallel to the sides of your mat. Slowly inch your right shin and foot (hereafter referred to as your “front leg”) toward the midline of your body until your foot is directly below your left hip. Now straighten your left leg (hereafter referred to as your “back” leg) toward the back of your mat.
2. Instead of leaning forward, walk your hands back and lower both sides of your pelvis toward the floor. As your pelvis releases, be sure your hips don’t lean to the right. You’ll know this is happening if your left hip lifts higher than your right. You need to keep your hips as level as possible to get the full effects of the pose and to keep your lower back safely aligned. If you’re not able to lower the hips evenly (join the club!), sit on a folded blanket or a block before starting the pose.
3. As your hips continue to settle, press your fingertips firmly into the floor and lengthen the sides of your waist to help keep your lower back long and free from strain. Using your arms this way allows you to modify the intensity of the stretch.-yogajournal.com
Beginning on your hands and knees, draw your right knee forward and rest your leg on the floor between your hands. Release your right buttock to the floor as you extend the left leg behind you. Keep your hips squared to the front. Use a bolster or stacked blankets to support your right buttock. Do not strain to reach the floor. Breathe into this pose while maintaining square, forward-facing hips. Repeat on the left. If you experience any pain or discomfort in your lower back, return to a constructive rest position.-livestrong.com
Don’t get intimated by this powerful stretch and release. Find your way bit by bit, and work on it a little each day. Not only will you feel better, but your workouts may improve by letting go of this extra stress and tension you may be harboring in those hips!