I’m sure most of us forget or don’t even think about stretching our hips. But it’s important. By stretching our hips we can increase flexibility and improve range of motion in our joints. Today’s guest blogger talks and tells us how the power of one yoga pose can really help our hips.
The pigeon pose is a stretch that has the potential to change your life…or at least shorten the life span of any sciatica you may be experiencing! For anyone who sits in a chair all day, or who sits in a strange way all day – dentists especially, this pose is for you! The pigeon pose addresses so many muscles all in one shot, that it is no wonder that it is considered such a powerful pose for your hips, hip flexors and buttocks. With variations added to this pose add in the quadriceps and even the chest.
- The pose itself is done by having one leg behind you extended fully with the knee cap directly facing the floor while the other leg in front of you is bent 90 degrees. It is very easy to ‘cheat’ in this pose and lean toward the hip of the extended leg, but be mindful not to do this. Learning this pose is best done with a teacher or someone who can correct the body mechanics from the start.
- The front knee is bent and the front ankle should be comfortable and flat. Place both hands on the floor next to each hip and lift your chest up before bending forward into this pose.
- Keep both hips and shoulders squared to the center line.
- For best results inhale as you lift the chest and exhale as you gently walk your hands forward as far out as you are able without compromising the pose.
- Look down toward your bent leg and breathe slow, fluid, full breaths.
- Take at least 5 deep breaths before coming out of this pose.
If you have been experiencing pain in your buttocks, hips or hip flexors then consider staying in this pose for 1-3 minutes at a time. This pose is the absolute best stretch for a muscle in your buttocks that is a hip flexor called the piriformis. The piriformis muscle is particularly important due to the fact that the sciantic nerve runs just underneath this muscle. When the nerve becomes trapped, the muscle is too tight. Doing this pose will loosen the muscles and thus give the sciatic nerve more room to move about.
If you are familiar with the downward facing dog pose in yoga, this is the ideal pose to do before coming into the pigeon. When you are in this pose, you bring one leg forward into the bent position and it makes it much easier to line up that back leg into the proper and best position.
Photo Credit: “Stretch Therapy”
Written by: Emily Francis, Massage Therapist & Yoga Instructor
About the Author
Emily A. Francis holds a BS in Exercise Science and Wellness. She is a clinical and neuromuscular massage therapist, a manual lymphatic drainage and combined decongestive therapy therapist from the Dr. Vodder School International working on people with lymphedema or post surgery. She is a trained yoga instructor through the Universal Yoga Alliance 300 hours and has taught yoga since 1998. She is the author of Stretch Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide To Basic and Assisted Stretching.