Yoga Wellbeing – Hip Openers

Whenever I ask my yogis before class if they have any requests, I’m asked about hip openers. Hip openers may be challenging, but they can also be incredibly satisfying, both physically and emotionally.


If you’re like most students, you probably feel as though someone poured superglue into your hip sockets. There are perfectly good reasons for this. First, modern life requires sitting all day, which keeps your hips from the rotation, flexion, and extension they need to remain agile. Second, common sports such as running and cycling—and even an everyday activity like walking—demand hip strength but not flexibility. The third culprit is stress, which creates tension in your body, especially in your hip area, which is a complex cluster of powerful muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Even a little bit of stress-induced clenching can really lock them up.

So, short of tossing out your chair (which could lead to other physiological problems), and entirely eliminating stress from your life, what can you do to unstick your hips and get them gliding freely again? For starters, you can start to incorporate Pigeon Pose into your daily routine.

This pose is perfect for tight hips because it stretches the hip rotators (the buttocks area) and the hip flexors (the long muscles that run along the front of your thighs and pelvis). It also requires substantial external rotation in the front leg and substantial internal rotation in the back leg. If you practice it consistently, you’ll notice an increased suppleness throughout your practice. You may also find that your body moves more easily even after class, since your pelvis is the central hub of movement.

All you have to do is be attentive to the many—and sometimes difficult—physical sensations that arise. Your ability to observe and be with these sensations and the accompanying cacophony of thoughts and feelings may be just as rewarding as the physical benefits of the pose.

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