We know stretching is tremendously important, and typically people stretch the front and back of the legs, the hamstrings, quads and calves. What is often missing is what yoga practice refers to as hip-opening. The hips are the core of the core, meaning the hip joint and the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and tendons is (literally) the central spot of the body. Tight hips lead to a wide-range of mobility issues and pain that can extend to the knees, back, and neck.
The “king of all hip-openers,” according to Yoga Journal, is the Pigeon pose. Why is this pose such a great stretch? The pigeon pose works both the external hip as the femur bone in the front bent leg
rotates in the hip socket, as well as lengthening the muscle, the primary hip flexor, as the back leg is long behind your body.
Pigeon can be a challenging pose, and many love it while others hate it, so there is a modification called the figure-4 that targets the external hip. (see the picture below). Once you are in Pigeon with your torso upright, you can lower yourself down for a deeper stretch. Using a yoga block is also a way to achieve a partial lowering of your torso.
Here’s a great video to show you how to get into Pigeon pose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVlX5HNKamw
Here’s a video to show you how to do the figure-4 stretch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b825OX2vegM
Here’s a great blog on Yoga International about the Pigeon pose, including how to do it and how to make it safe for your body. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/seven-tips-for-a-more-pleasant-pigeon-pose