Hips! Those darn hips! Okay, so this is definitely my achilles heal. And in todays post I’ll show you Double Pigeon Pose and the Modification to it. I have quite divided relationship to these Lovely, awful hip openers. My hips are just made of stone and steel and I work on them and then I work some more on them.
And the progress seems to be so slow. And I know why…. Do you?? Because I have been cutting down in hip openers because I did not do as I have learned. Ego…. I have forced my hip openers too hard and ended up to injure my knee even more.
So, no matter what position you struggle with, DO NOT FORCE IT! It will come when You are ready. If it ever does happen. Either way feel that it is okay. Accept the space you are in right now. Don’t do what I did… We should always remember that we always are right where we should be.
There are though some facts that affect how deep you get into hip opening poses.
The tightness of the soft tissues like muscles, fascias and ligaments
Deepness of the joints
The muscular and fascia tightness is possible and good to work with but we have to stay aware of when the stiffness is not in these tissues. Ligaments should not get stretched and by pressing into poses, that are because of your bone structures not made for you, is nothing to force into.
We all know the general area of our body we have in mind when we talk about our “hips”. Here is some actually information of ”the Hip”. To be specific, we can say that the actual hip joint is located where your femur (thighbone) meets your pelvis (hip bone). For all the anatomy nerds here, let’s be technical and define the hip joint as the place where the head of the femur (the ball-like prominence at the top end of the bone) articulates with the acetabulum, a concave hemispherical socket located on the side of the pelvis.
The hip is a joint, which means that it’s a moveable part of your body. Motion at the hip takes place when the femur and pelvis move in relation to each other. There are lots of movements available at the hip joint, including hip extension (moving the thigh behind you, as in Dhanurasana), hip flexion (forward bend – uttanasana), hip abduction (moving your thigh out to the side, like your back leg in Warrior B), hip adduction (moving the thigh toward your midline – think Eagle Pose), and internal (Shoe lace pose) and external (Lotus ) rotation. Ideally all of these motions would be fluid and easy for you all of the time, but all too often, our hip joint movement is restricted in one or more planes (or all of them), resulting in hips we experience as “tight”.
What Does It Mean to Have Tight Hips?
Even though some teachers and even therapists says that the hips movements are are not because of stiff joints but because of the tight soft tissues as muscles and fascias, the truth is that your joint itself is sometimes really the issue. Because every human being is unique in the bone structures and the hip joint is placed in different directions and ankled very different. Some have hip joints that is not to much to the front of the Pelvis and the articularis / joint is shallow, which makes most of the poses for hips easy to get into when the muscles softens up. If the joint is too much to the front and the joint is deep the bone structures from femur and pelvis will collard and it’s never good to try push beyond this point. The deepness of the joint as well as the length of the femoral neck is very different from person to person and it makes the movement of the hip unique for each and one of us. I have worked almost 10 as a Sport therapist and seen lots of these issues. But I got even better eye opener when I study to Yoga Teacher and one of our Teachers, Joe Barnett (Yin Yoga teacher) went really deep into the bone structures when he was teaching us the understanding of teaching and guiding students into poses. He learned us to understand and respect our own bodies as well others.
And sometimes actually the muscles and fascia that cross your joint that restrict your movement. And how do these tissues become tight? Your body adapts to what you do most frequently. And the one body position that we as a culture tend to assume most frequently is sitting with our hips and knees flexed at 90 degrees. Even if you don’t think you sit a lot, or if you have a job which requires you to stand, you’re probably forgetting all the other time you do spend sitting because it’s so ingrained in your daily lifestyle that you almost don’t even realize it. Fortunately many of the office working places here in Finland are having now a days adjustable tables so you can vary between sitting and standing during the working day.
The difference of the pain when it is bone structural limitation or soft tissue tightness is not always easy to tell, but if you feel sharp pain and / or hard resistance and if there is softer resistance and milder pain or more as uncomfortableness in a position is an indication of muscular / fascial tightness.
In a nutshell, our over-use of the sitting posture shortens the muscles that cross the front of our hips (hip flexors) and the muscles that line the back our thighs (hamstrings), as well as effectively inactivates our otherwise so powerful glutes, and just turns our whole hip area out of balance. So the tight and unhappy hips drive us to our yoga mats to get some relief. Just remember, that the balance is what we strive for, strengthens and releases tension and respects our body, as it is made.
Here I have a video for the SAFE practice of Double Pigeon. Both; guidance to full pose and to a modification for all the tight hips out there in the world.