Day 2: Open up + focus on hip flexibility

After a long day parked at your desk, are your hips telling you tales of tight, achy woe? Open your hips and boost flexibility with these poses.
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man in half pigeon eka pada rajakapotasana pose

Happy National Yoga Month! Celebrate with us by rebooting your yoga routine for 21 days in September. To seal your home practice habit for life, sign up for YJ's upcoming 21-Day Yoga Challenge online course, crafted to cultivate lasting commitment. Plus, enter to be on the cover of an upcoming issue in 2016. Follow #YJChallenge on Facebook and Twitter for more inspiring tips each day.

After a long day parked at your desk, are your hips telling you tales of tight, achy woe? Sounds familiar! Tight hips can feel like a pair of pants that are a size too small, reducing the range of motion in your hips, hamstrings, and spine and creating discomfort. Open this region to increase the efficiency of circulation to your lower extremities, range of motion, and sense of ease in meditation and seated postures. Try incorporating more hip-opening poses into your daily routine to keep your hips open and agile, like this Pigeon Pose variation from teacher Jason Crandell.

Pigeon Pose, variation

Place a bolster along the right side of your mat and have two blocks nearby. Come into the pose by situating your right sitting bone, outer thigh, and knee on the bolster. Align your front shin so that it is parallel to the front of your mat. To focus the action more intensely in your hip rotators (and to minimize the possibility of overstretching your front ankle), be sure to flex your front foot. Slide your left leg toward the back edge of your mat, leveling your hips and placing your hands on blocks set shoulder-width apart in front of you.

Before deepening the pose, you may need to troubleshoot two areas. First, if your front ankle is uncomfortable or if you feel too much weight on your shin, place a rolled mat under your outer shin just above your ankle. This should relieve pressure on your foot and ankle. Second, if your knee is uncomfortable or if you’re unable to place your front shin parallel to the front of your mat, pull your front heel toward your hips.

Once you settle into the pose, observe the location and intensity of the sensations in your right hip and buttock. If possible, bring your forearms to the blocks and settle the weight of your pelvis more deeply into the bolster. Root down through your arms and lengthen your spine forward while you gently draw back through your right groin and sitting bone. Complement these actions by slightly twisting your trunk to the right. This movement will create a more intense stretch in the deep layers of your outer hip. Stay for 1 to 2 minutes, breathing smoothly, before changing sides.

Why this works

This propping typically makes it easier to bring the front shin parallel to the front edge of your mat, which will encourage your thighbone to externally rotate more. Setting up this way will also give you more access to some of the deeper external rotators of your hip. Since every body is unique, it’s normal for you to feel the stretch in a slightly different place than your neighbor.

See Day 3: Sync up breath and body

21 Day-Challenge