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It’s all in the hips!

PHUKET: Hi there and welcome again to another yoga asana that will help you in the pursuit of a happier, healthier body.

Tuesday 17 July 2012, 03:08PM

Last month our posture focused on the abductors, this month we are going to again work on the hips. However the focus will be the hip flexor (the Iliacus and the Psoas Major. Together, they are known as the Iliopsoas).

The asana this month is called Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or one legged king pigeon. A lot of people don’t realise that the hip flexor plays a big part in the mobility and flexibility of the back, particularly the lower back.

Overdeveloped and tight hip flexors can contribute to lower back pain by causing the pelvis to tilt backward. To counteract this, you must stretch the hip flexors and strengthen the abdominal muscles. This will reduce pelvic tilt and decrease lower back pain. Strengthening the lower back can also help improve the balance between the muscles of the hip region.

Let’s get to it:

  • Stretches the entire front of the torso, the ankles, thighs and groins, abdomen and chest, and throat

  • Stretches and opens the deep hip flexors (psoas)

  • Strengthens back muscles

  • Improves posture

  • Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck

  • Opens your hip rotator muscles (gluteus medius and minimus).

  • May relieve sciatic nerve tension and ease chronic low back pain.

  • Advanced version opens your chest and shoulders

  • Traditionally thought to control sexual desire, increase circulation to urinary, digestive, and reproductive systems.


Okay, so this is how we progress through the one legged king pigeon.

  1. If you have knee issues, place a towel or soft cushion under the knee.

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  2. Make sure that the front knee is right above the ankle and does not go past this point. This alignment ensures safe and healthy knees.

  3. The back leg is about 60cm away from the front heel.

  4. In photo one you will see that the hands are resting on the floor beside the front foot. This is a great place to start if you are feeling challenged.

  5. If you are comfortable at this point that you can place both your hands on your front knee or as you can see in photo two, place your hands on the hips.

  6. The intention of the hips is to sink downward and slightly forward.

  7. The intention of the chest is to rise upward and the shoulders roll down the back. Much like a proud pigeon puffing its chest out.

  8. The front knee wants to feel like it is pressing forward away from the back knee (still remember the knee over ankle alignment).

  9. The back knee wants to feel like it is pressing backward away from the front knee.

  10. This forward and back with the knees will create a nice opening and releasing sensation in the hip flexor.

  11. Remember to breathe through the posture, always using the out-breath as a release for any tension that is felt in the body. Much like ice melting in the sun.

  12. Hold for about 20 seconds to a minute and repeat on the other side.

This posture in combination with the ‘Van Damme’ last month will have you prancing around the coop like the proud pigeons I know you can be. Happy stretching.



Kim White is the owner of Sala Suddhavasa, an in­ternal arts centre in Rawai offering private and group sessions in taiji, yoga and meditation: 086-276-9174, info@suddhavasa.com; suddhavasa.com

The opinions and advice con­tained in this column are those of the author only. The Phuket News is not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any situation.

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