There’s no need to be shy; it’s not only the advancement of years that can cause stiffness and pain in the hips. The mere fact that we walk upright places a lot of pressure on the hip joints and this is exacerbated by activities such as running and cycling. Add that to the reality that a lot of people have jobs which require them to be seated and immobile for long periods of time and you can begin to see the scale of the problem. This can lead to anything from the occasional twinge to the full fledged deterioration of the joint. Hip opening poses are therefore in high demand and should be an integral part of any exercise routine. One of the best is the yoga pigeon pose.

How can the yoga pigeon pose help? Well we’ll get to exactly how it’s done in a few minutes but for now what you need to know is that it involves a great deal of internal rotation and this stretches both the flexors and the rotators in the hip. This, in turn, helps to reduce the tightness in the tendons and muscles, thereby increasing the flexibility of the hip joint. One thing you do need to be careful of is that you don’t push yourself too much and end up straining your muscles. It is easy to forget that this is an isolation exercise, but you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. The yoga pigeon pose is not a difficult one to get into, once you follow the instructions precisely:

It is very important that you use an exercise mat so you can avoid any undue injuries to yourself. Start off on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips and your hands directly below your shoulders. Bring your right knee forward until it touches the inside of your right wrist. It is important that your right thigh remains parallel to the edges of the mat. Move your right foot upwards until it is directly below your hip. Do this slowly so that you can maintain your balance. Once you’ve done this, the next step is straightening your left foot out towards the back of the mat.

What you’ve got to do now is lower your pelvis towards the mat. You may be tempted to just lean forward in order to do this, but that’s not a good idea as you can hurt yourself. It’s better to move your hands back a little and then lower the hips. Ensure that your hands are firmly seated so that you don’t cause any excess pressure on your lower back. Once you’ve gotten your hips into position, relax and take a deep breath. Now walk your hands forward and slowly lower your elbows to the floor, exhaling as you do so. This should relieve the tension in your hips but remember that you don’t want to create any tension elsewhere, so be careful if you feel any discomfort.

Remain in the forward position for 10 – 20 seconds and then transition out of the position. In order to do this you can move into the downward dog position and then repeat the exercise for the left side. A critical part of the yoga pigeon pose is keeping the hips level. If this isn’t done you’ll be creating an imbalance between your left and right sides and you’ll be negating the positive effects of the posture. With regular practice you’ll find that any tightness you may have felt in your hips will be greatly eased and you’ll have a better overall range of movement.

Sherry Holistan is a Hatha, Vinyasa and Bakti Yoga Practitioner. For excellent reviews of Pregnancy Yoga DVDs please visit

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Categories: Yoga