Yoga and Lifting?
Yoga: It’s not just for your girlfriend anymore. You can also skip the yoga pants. Adding a few yoga moves into your lifting program can actually improve your gains in the gym, especially when it comes to hip mobility and pain-free squatting.
There are many different types of yoga. One type is called Anusara yoga, which comes from Iyengar yoga. But let’s drop the fancy name and call it “alignment yoga.”
Alignment yoga is based on certain alignment principles that put the body into the proper position to achieve maximum strength, flexibility, and mobility. It’s a true game-changer.
Now, you might think yoga is just about weird poses, with the goal of trying to somehow put your massive quad behind your head. (Not going to happen.) You might also think that flexibility and mobility are all about simply relaxing into a stretch and staying there for an eternity.
Alignment yoga says no. You need a combination of proper placement, active muscle engagement, and conscious relaxation to get the most out of yoga poses and “stretches.” One of the best poses for lifters? The half pigeon.
The Half Pigeon
While you may not know the name, half pigeon is a common hip stretch. It’s great for stretching your angry glutes and hip rotators. But without the hack shown below, you’ll miss one of the biggest benefits of half pigeon: stretching your hip flexors.
Your hip flexors are those muscles that run along the front of your hip, deep into your core, and attach to your low back. Your hip flexors are probably chronically tight, and tight hip flexors cause movement pattern disorders. Not good.
Half Pigeon: The Right Way
- Come into downward facing dog.
- Lift your right leg straight up behind you.
- Bring your right foot all the way through between your hands. (If this is difficult, put your right hand behind your right calf and assist it forward.)
- Put your right foot behind your left wrist and let your right knee drop to the floor, behind your right hand.
- Put your hands in front of you near the top corners of the mat. You can come up onto your fingertips if needed.
- Tuck your back toes UNDER (see picture detail) and make sure your heel is pointed straight up, not flopping to one side or another.
- Move your right hand toward your right foot to support your weight.
- Take your left hand and grab your upper and inner left thigh and rotate it clockwise (towards the sky).
- Push the top of your left shin into the ground.
- Without moving anything, lift your left knee off the ground and push your left heel back like you’re trying to crush something beneath your heel.
- Hold the stretch for two minutes. Breathe!