Pigeon Pose was the first hip stretch I ever learned about therefore it is here marking the first entry in the encyclopedia. I was drawn to this yoga posture because you were encouraged to take the position and hold it for a longer period of time. I really enjoy long stretch holds because they allow me to breath more deeply into the posture and relax my frame at my own pace. This allows me to come to a greater understanding of what it feels like when I hold tension in my body and conversely what it feels like when I release. Essentially this posture taught me how I “let go”.
We can store a lot of tension and trauma in the hips so be aware that you may have strong emotions that accompany this position or come after. This is totally normal, just allow the emotions to flow out of you. When you consistently practice releasing the tension and emotions from the hips it will become easier for you to both let go and keep your energy clear.
The Benefits of Pigeon Pose:
- Stretching the Glutes, Groin, and Psoas muscles
- Stimulate Internal Organs
- Alleviate Sciatic Pain
- Relieve Impinged Piriformis
- Help with Urinary Disorders
- Improves Posture
- Releases Stress, Anxiety, Fear & Trauma
- Relieve Back Pain
- Reduce Chances of Knee Injuries
- Aids in Digestion
- Builds the Mental Strength to Endure Uncomfortable Situations
- Knee Injury
- Sacroiliac or Back Injury
- Ankle Injury
Let’s Do It:
I like to get into Pigeon Pose from a downward dog. Be sure to practice with both sides. In these instructions I’ll just describe the right side. From a downward dog, swing the right leg through between your hands and then lower your whole body while laying your right leg in front of you. Line up your right knee with your right hand. To adjust the difficulty you can change the angle of your leg by moving the ankle closer or further from your torso. Once you have found a suitable position (not totally comfortable, but not too unbearable) you can bring your arms forward and relax every muscle in your body, letting gravity do the work of stretching the hip.
You can spend some time just hanging out in this pose. I like to listen to my favorite song, which is about 3 minutes long, to time how long I should hold the stretch.
If you are not able to get completely into this stretch, use a yoga block, pillow, blanket, or whatever you can to brace your body. You don’t have to be a yoga master to get the most from this stretch. The most important thing is to go at your own pace.
Other variations are ways to make this stretch deeper. You can move your right ankle further away from the torso, bend your left leg and grab ahold of your left foot, and even lift your body up and bend backwards. All of these are different ways to get more out of pigeon pose.
In the Thai Massage practice, I perform what I call a “reverse pigeon” pose with the client. Starting with the client face up, place your right knee outside of their left hip. Create a table for their legs with your left leg. Drape both of their legs over your left leg. Then figure 4 their left leg. Create a straight line from your right shoulder, elbow, and wrist through their knee and pointing to their left shoulder. (remember not to place your hand directly on the knee. I usually place my hand just below the knee on their thigh). Lean forward and let gravity do the work of the stretch. For more leverage, you can move your anchor knee (right) further away from their body. To bring variation to the stretch for them, you can adjust the position of their ankle with your left hand. (Do not apply downward or leaning pressure with the left hand).
Let me know how your pigeon pose journey is going. Do you have any questions or insights you’d like to share? Please comment below or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org