Let’s talk about tight hips and external rotation in the hip joints in yoga poses

An external rotation is when the head of the femur, or thigh bone, moves outwards from our centre line. These are poses we do a lot in a yoga class: warrior 2, triangle pose, extended side angle pose, tree pose, half-moon pose… and of course seated poses such as cross-legged or lotus and any of those leg variations including pigeon pose.

Basically, the head of the femur sits in a “socket” in the pelvis. It’s a “ball in socket joint” and could move in all different directions. Obviously, our bone structure differs as does our muscle strength and flexibility. But there is potential for lots of movement.


Warrior 2

However, most of us have a lot of tension in this area, the muscles that hold and support the pelvis, such as the buttocks (glutes), hip flexors, psoas, pelvic floor, thighs (quadriceps) and hamstrings. We don’t really create a lot of various movements here. Most of us are sedentary. But even if we move it’s often the same muscle group that either strengthens (tightness) or gets more flexibility.

Hip openers in yoga are a great way to create more variation and mobility. But we need to actually “work” these muscles, make new movements and variability. Variation is key.

The challenge is that our Ego wants us to feel and look advanced – so we “cheat” creating an illusion of going deeper rather than exploring where we need to create more openness. And our body is a creature of habit and will move what it’s used to.

Sometimes less is more

In this video, I offer instructions on how not to cheat and actually target where we can be more precise and create variation and more movement. Sometimes less is more.

We look at intense side stretch or pyramid pose, warrior 2, extended side angle pose, taking it into triangle pose and a little bit about tree pose.


Learn more about the pelvis and pelvic floor in my online course on the Sacred Pelvis here