Upon hearing the term “muscle tightness”, many people immediately think of their inability to touch their toes. Granted, tight hamstrings can lead to tons of painful conditions and injuries.
That being said, general hip inflexibility is also a glaring issue in the average person. Tightness in this area can cause back pain, weakness, and a generally decreased quality of life.
Luckily, the cure for many cases of tight hips can be found through yoga practice. Specifically, one of my favorite yoga exercises to loosen restricted hips is the pigeon pose (AKA half pigeon pose).
Tight Hips and The Epidemic of Sitting
Unfortunately, the modern lifestyle lends itself to muscular tightness all throughout the body. The majority of us spend many more hours sitting and barely moving than we spend in any other position.
Think about it: we sit on the way to work, we sit when we get to work, we sit on the way home, and we sit when we get home. That’s a lot of hours spent sitting!
There’s nothing inherently wrong with sitting. From time to time, we should all plop down and rest. This time off of our feet gives us a chance to rest, recover, and get ready for our next activity. The only problem is that most of us rarely participate in any activities!
When we spend the majority of our lives sitting, we force our hips into a specific position that tightens our hip flexors and weakens muscles all throughout our bodies.
The Fix for Tight Hips
In general, we all need to move a little bit more to improve our posture and hip flexibility. Walking, jogging, biking, and weight lifting are all great items that should be added to our routines.
However, when it comes to the very specific issue of tight hips, yoga is king.
There are so many great yoga poses, it’s hard to choose just one! However, to isolate the hips, I tend to lean toward the pigeon pose.
Pigeon Pose for Tight Hips
Pigeon pose serves as a hip flexor stretch, a hip rotator stretch, and an all-around excellent choice for encouraging flexibility in the lower body. Furthermore, there are tons of variations that can be made to pigeon pose to make it easier or harder.
How to Perform Half Pigeon Pose
- Start in quadruped (both knees and both hands on the floor).
- Slowly, bring your right ankle forward and place it on the floor in front of your left knee.
- Next, slide your left knee as far back as you can, as you continue to inch your right ankle forward.
- At this point, your right knee should be pointing directly to your right side, and your right ankle should be pointing directly to your left side.
- After a few deep breaths, attempt to sink further into the stretch by reaching your arms forward and allowing your chest to lower toward the floor.
- Hold this position for 30-60 seconds, or for 10 very deep, slow breaths.
- Repeat the same stretch on the opposite side.
Naturally, if the pigeon pose is too much for you as described, feel free to modify it! The use of pillows and/or yoga blocks during this stretch makes it much more comfortable. Simply place one of these items underneath your buttocks while in the stretch to decrease the difficulty.
Yoga is a great practice for both body and mind. The stretching and meditative components make this form of exercise one of the best there is.
If you’re new to yoga, or pigeon pose, in particular, be sure to take your time. You probably won’t be able to stretch as far as your instructor right away. But with consistent practice, you’ll be there before you know it, and your hips will thank you!