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Many people suffer from tight hips and , in part due to sedentary lifestyles and long days sitting at desks, says Pierre Couvillion, the founder and director of Santosha School, a yoga and Ayurveda wellness center and school.
Regularly practicing pigeon pose — a type of yoga pose that doubles as a stretch — is a great way to combat those aches, since it increases hip flexibility and rotation, Couvillion says.
Warning: If you have a history of hip, knee, or back injuries, seek professional guidance before trying pigeon pose, since it can put pressure on these areas, potentially causing pain or even injury.
Here’s how to safely practice pigeon pose and why you should incorporate this move into your regular stretching routine or yoga practice.
However, that’s too much for most people in the West, who generally have tighter hips and aren’t accustomed to hip openers, Couvillion says. Because of that, he recommends starting with a version of pigeon pose that involves flexing one hip at a time.
Important: When doing pigeon pose, stop if you experience pain in the hip, knee, ankle, and low back, says Olufade. Start slow, listen to your body, and don’t push the joints too far.
Here is a step-by-step guide to doing pigeon pose:
If you haven’t tried pigeon pose before, you should start with the safest version of the pose and then work your way through the different variations until you’re flexibility allows for the full movement. Here are three variations and how to do them, in order from safest to more advanced.
This is a great place for beginner’s to start since you can tailor the intensity to your body. You don’t need any equipment for this pose, but might like a mat or towel. Here’s how to do it:
After getting comfortable with the non-weight-bearing version of the pose, you can try the Supine version next.
If Supine doesn’t feel challenging enough, you can try the seated version of this pose.
Pigeon pose is a great way to loosen the hips and possibly prevent injuries like a strained low back. Here are some of the benefits of pigeon pose, according to Oluseun Olufade, MD, a sports medicine physician and professor of Orthopedics at Emory School of Medicine:
Long days sitting at school and work mean that many people, including kids, have tight hips and low back pain.
Pigeon pose is a great way to counteract this while also improving flexibility and inducing relaxation.
However, beginners should stick to the easiest variation and then work their way up to full pigeon to reduce injury.