Blue skies and a warm breeze totally motivate me to exercise outdoors, so I've been doing lots of running, biking, and hiking. My muscles are becoming stronger, but they're also getting tighter, especially my hips. If you're in need of a good hip stretch, give this Pigeon variation a try. Bending your bottom knee next to your thigh intensifies this stretch so you also feel it in your quad, shin, and the top of your foot.
To learn an easier modification, read more
Tight hips are a common complaint among active people, especially those who run, ski, or bike. Pigeon and Double Pigeon are two of my favorite stretches for opening up my hips and stretching my glutes. If you're looking for a new variation to add to your stretching routine, give this one a whirl.
- Sit on the floor and bend your left knee so it is parallel with your tummy.
- Bend your right knee and place it on top, so your ankles and knees are stacked, and your shins are parallel. You'll know you're doing it right when you gaze down and see that your legs make a little triangle.
- You may find your top knee to be way high up toward the ceiling — it's OK, it just means that your hips are tight. Working on this stretch will help to open those tight hips.
- Place your hands in front of your shins and walk them toward the right so both hands are beside your right thigh. If you're flexible, lower your forearms to the floor. To increase the twist, lift your right arm into the air and gaze at your palm while pressing your left elbow against your right knee.
- After 30 seconds or so, place your right hand on the floor, walk your hands back to the center, and walk them all the way over to the left side. To increase the stretch, raise your left arm in the air and gaze upward.
- Walk your hands back to center when you're ready and then sit up. Straighten both legs out in front of you. Then do Double Pigeon with the right leg on the bottom, and repeat walking your hands first to the left, and then to the right.
This sequence of Pigeon pose variations are sure to loosen up hips made tight from running or simply sitting all day. Begin with your right knee forward, and then repeat on the other side.
If you loved Pigeon Twist and Pigeon Crescent, then you're ready to try One-legged King Pigeon. It's a little bit more challenging than the other two, but feels great in your spine, shoulders, and hips.
|Sanskrit Name: Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana|
English Translation: One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
Want to know how to get into it? Then read more
Yoga keeps me running by restoring length to the overused and shortened muscles in my hips and legs. Hip-opening poses like Pigeon are essential if you run, bike, hike, or sit at a desk regularly – all of which apply to me, by the way. Plus, stretching out tight hips can also relieve lower-back pain. This Pigeon variation will not only open your hips, it will also stretch your quads while giving you nice spinal twist.
|Sanskrit Name: Eka Pada Kapotasana (variation)|
English Translation: One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (variation)
Also Called: Pigeon Twist
There's more to this pose than just sitting on the ground. To see what I mean, read more
Sitting at your desk for 8 hours a day is a great way to work towards tight hips. Fight back with this desk hip opener stretch.
|This is just like doing Pigeon pose but instead of lying down, you're sitting up.
Bend your left knee and place your lower leg flat on the desk (make sure to clear a spot).
Lean your upper body forward a little and try to keep your spine long. You'll really feel this stretch in your left hip and butt. I love it!
Hang here for a few breaths or more if you love it, and then carefully switch sides.
If you really love this stretch, you can work while you do it!
CAUTION: Again, make sure your chair doesn't have wheels!
Everyone can benefit from opening their hips - whether you are a runner, biker, a mom-to-be, or someone who sits at their desk all day - stretching out your hips can help prevent lower back pain, or knee or hamstring injuries.
English Translation: One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
Also Called: Pigeon Pose
Our hips tend to be really tight because our everyday activities require hip strength, but not hip flexibility. Not only does it feel good physically to stretch them out, but it is said that people hold a lot of stress and tension in their hips, so it is emotionally opening as well.
There are tons of great poses and exercises that open your hips and hip flexors (the front of your legs, just below your hip bones). Wide Squat, Dancer, Camel, Airplane (when you're on the top), and Wide-Legged Split are just a few.
But Pigeon pose is my absolute favorite. You can stay in it for a while, and as your hips begin to open, you can adjust the level of intensity to open them even further - it's relaxing yet effective.
- From Downward Facing Dog, step both feet together and bring your right knee forward between your hands so your outer right leg is resting on the mat.
- If your hips are more open, inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat. If it begins open up toward the ceiling, draw your right foot back in toward your body.
- Stay here with your hands resting on your right leg or walk your hands out in front of you, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee.
- Hold here, breathing into any areas of tightness and tension for at least five breaths.
- Then place your hands on the mat in front of you, tuck your left toes and step your right foot back. Take a vinyasa, then step your left foot forward and repeat Pigeon on the left side.
Fit's Tips: I like to get into this pose and work each side separately for about five minutes each. Obviously adjust the time if it becomes too intense for you, but the longer you hang out in this pose, the more time you'll allow for your body to settle in and really open up. After doing both sides, you'll be walking differently. Try it and see what I mean.