Hip opening can feel like a love-hate relationship because many people experience extreme tightness. So even though you may need to open up, it can be confronting, challenging and at even emotional at times.
I remember years ago I was surprised to feel tears rolling down my face during a deep hip opening class. I wasn't aware of any sadness at the time, but there was an emotional release that happened when I allowed myself to surrender. I realized that opening my hips was even more important than I thought.
When we open our hips, we can improve our overall physical and energetic experience of life by creating an easy flow of circulation between our heart and lower body. Supple hips can also help ease back pain, make standing more comfortable and can allow walking to be more enjoyable.
One of my favorite hip opening postures is Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana). This is a great intermediate hip opener that stretches the thighs, groins, psoas, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and neck. Here are five tips to make sure you're practicing the pose properly.
1. Align your right knee behind your right wrist and your right toes behind your left wrist.
2. Extend your left leg back, directly behind the left hip, keeping the front of the thigh on the floor. (Sometimes proper alignment requires a blanket or block under the right hip.)
3. Try to bring your right shin parallel with the front of the mat and flex your foot. If that’s impossible, allow the shin to come back towards you and point the toes.
4. Use your fingertips to help you lift your torso and lengthen your lower back by pressing your tailbone down and lifting the pubis toward the navel.
5. You can choose to stay elevated or lower over the right leg for a minute before pressing yourself up and back to downward facing dog.