Yogi Brynn Rybacek, founder of Southern California’s True Flow Yoga (certified teacher trainings, international yoga retreats and workshops), has got an easy stretch to make part of our daily routine. The pose: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, or more simply One Legged King Pigeon pose, is perfect after a long day at the office!
Brynn: In our modern world, many of us spend up to 8 hours a day in a chair at work and then come home to spend a few more hours sitting on the couch. Sitting with our legs in this position creates tightness in the hip flexors and the external hip rotators.
This is my favorite all-around hip opener as it stretches the hip flexor of the straight leg and also lengthens the piriformis of the bent leg. Begin holding the pose for 1-2 minutes on each side. Once your body adjusts to the stretch, you may hold it for up to 5-10 minutes on each side.
Begin standing on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Slide your right knee forward between your hands, resting your right shin to the floor. Be sure that your back leg is internally rotated, meaning that the front of your left thigh, knee, and foot are looking straight down to the floor as shown in the first picture. (If you are unsure, curl your back toes under and feel the front of your left leg facing directly downward, then release the top of your foot back to the floor.) Be sure that you are NOT rolling your weight onto the right hip as shown in the middle image. Those newer to the pose as well as those with tighter hips will keep their pelvis elevated away from the floor by using their hands for support, making sure to keep the pelvis squared to the floor.
On an inhalation, come to your fingertips , straighten your arms and lift your chest. Stay here for a few breaths. Then, on an exhalation, fold forward over your front leg as shown in the third image.
Be sure that your hips stay squared to the floor and try to feel how many parts of your body you can relax. Relax your fingers, toes, shoulders, and jaw. Breathe deeply.
Slowly release out and repeat on the second side.