I love all the variations of Pigeon Pose, but that’s not the reason I use some variance of it in almost EVERY yoga class that I teach. One of the major target areas in the pose is the lateral rotators of the hip. One of them is pretty famous. Have you met Piraformis yet? Even if you don’t know her by name, I’m almost positive you’ve felt her presence. Especially if you’ve ever attempted any form of #Ekapadarajakapotasana.
The reason this group of six muscles is so important is because they get a LOT of use, and not a lot of thanks. Any time that you walk, run, jump, turn a leg out, or do Urdhva Dhanurasana, you are using them. These muscles are balanced by the inner thighs, but unfortunately there aren’t as many instances where we use the inner thighs in our daily lives. (Tips for strengthening those coming soon in another post!)
Since we are so demanding of our lateral rotators, it becomes even more important to S-T-R-E-T-C-H them! All of the pigeon variations, and any other poses that include forward bending with a bent knee and externally rotate the thigh are really great for targeting the piriformis, and the other 5 lateral rotators. Baddha Konasana, Thread the Needle, and Happy Baby to name a few.
One thing to be keenly aware of as you’re attempting any of these types of hip-opening poses is the placement and actions of your feet. Keeping the front foot (or both feet in symmetrical poses) flexed and ankle(s) engaged will protect the knees from straining, so that the stretch is directed into hip. In comparison to the hip joint, which involves large bones and several strong muscles to hold it in place, the knee is a very unstable joint which is built more for agility, and not so much stability; therefore, especially when the hips are tighter, it is imperative to pay attention to the articulation of the feet!
Yoga can make such a significant, positive improvement in the quality of one’s life, but good alignment is of utmost importance. The feet play a very important role in the safety and efficacy of hip-opening asanas (postures), but there are many other pieces of the puzzle, too — like making sure that your sacrum is in the appropriate place so that you don’t injure your lower back, knowing when to sit up vs. bending forward (and how much), as well as proper action of the legs, and placement of the groins. My recommendation is that you come to a yoga class (wink! wink!). But seriously, a great yoga teacher is worth way more than the national average cost of a yoga class ($10-20)! How much do you value your well-being?
If you’d like to learn more about how Yoga can help you with hip and/or lower back pain, I would love to see you for my next Therapeutic Yoga for Hips workshop coming up…
Sunday, August 14th 3:00-5:00pm @ Sacred Space! Please call to sign up: 349-4986!
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