By Sangeetha Saran
Tension in the hips comes from many different sources. Our hips can become tense from holding onto difficult emotions, sitting at a desk for long hours and spending a lot of time driving. The hips can also become tight from an assortment of athletic activities, ranging from running to playing tennis and skiing. When your hips are tight, there is added pressure, strain and pulling on the lower back and sacral areas. Additionally, the life force energy or prana will not be able to flow as freely throughout your body.
There are a wide variety of standing and sitting Yoga poses that help to keep the hips free of unneeded stress and tension. Standing asanas that maintain flexibility in the hips may be incorporated into a vinyasa sequence of Yoga postures that link the standing poses together through Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskars) and the breath. Entering Pigeon Pose from Downward Facing Dog is a wonderful way to deeply stretch out the hip and side torso areas. Standing twisting poses, particularly Twisting Lunge, are also very effective hip openers.
Before practicing Pigeon Pose, it is important to warm up your body thoroughly by practicing three to five Sun Salutations. If you need detailed instructions on how one should practice Surya Namaskars, please refer to a reputable book, website or visit a local Yoga studio. After you have warmed your body up, come to the front of your mat and stand in Samasthiti or Equal Standing Pose. Feel the ground below your mat and distribute your weight evenly between both feet Take a few complete Yogic breaths.
With the next inhale, you should bring the arms over your head and move through the beginning postures of the Sun Salutation. Pause when your are in Downward Facing Dog. Hold Downward Dog for three complete breaths and then raise your right leg in the air behind you. Keep your toes facing the floor and your leg in line with your hip. Slowly and with control bring your right knee to the outside of your right elbow. Repeat this leg lift two more times with control.
After the third leg lift, place your right lower leg on your Yoga mat. The goal is to place your lower leg parallel to the top of your mat. This takes a great deal of flexibility. Position your leg at the angle that is comfortably challenging for you today. Extend your left arm in front of you and to the right side of your bent knee. Place your left hand palm down on the Yoga mat. Feel the deep stretch within your hip and side torso. Hold this position for three to five full breaths. With your next exhale come back to Mountain Pose. Repeat on the left hand side.
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