Pigeon Pose: How to Do It for Everybody

Pigeon Pose is one of the most loved AND ‘hated’ hip-openers in asana practice. In this space, your front leg is bent at a 45 to 90-degree angle (depending on your flexibility and the shape of your skeleton), and the back leg is extended behind you while the pelvis is square and centered.

The upper body may be straight, folded over the leg in front, or bent backward. This pose can be bound with the hands reaching overhead and up for the toes on the bent back leg, as in One-Legged King Pigeon.

Props are also available. A block can be placed under the hips to help reach the floor if the bound version is unable to do so, or a belt to help get the back foot.

Regular yoga will prepare your mind and body for the Pigeon Pose. Click to sign up for our 30-day free yoga challenge. Slowly but surely, you will be able to open your hips for the perfect Pigeon Pose.

Pigeon Pose: Benefits

Pigeon Pose is a great way to improve your health. It stretches hip flexors and opens the gluteus maximus and minimus. It also relaxes the piriformis, psoas, and piriformis muscles. It stimulates the digestive organs and helps to improve digestion.

This pose tests our mental ability to deal with uncomfortable situations. It can cause emotional sobbing (yes, you can cry) because it brings up repressed fear and anger and forces us to breathe while we face those emotions.

Warnings and Reminders

This pose is not recommended at the start of class. Ideally, you should warm up your body by doing a few asanas before attempting a deeper stretch.

This pose is best done after or at the conclusion of an asana class that includes standing sequences like Sun Salutation B or A and hip openers. Try Triangle pose (Trikonasana), Tree Pose (Vrksasana), or Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana).

However, if you have a knee, ankle, or sacroiliac problem, be careful or don’t try it. Women who are pregnant should not bend their bodies over. Instead, they should remain upright.

Pigeon Poses Variations

This pose is available in many different variations. The yogi that can reach his foot up to his head will not benefit more than the yogi using a block as support for the hips.

You are doing it correctly if you feel a deep stretch in your body, and you can relax into the pose without strain. Keep in mind that your body has changed since yesterday. Respect your body by only exercising at the level you feel comfortable with today.

Asanas are a comfortable and steady posture. Please disregard the old saying that “if you don’t feel challenged, you won’t be changed” for the time being. When opening hips and hearts, slow, steady progress is the best.

It’s time to practice!

Start in either Downward facing dog (or tabletop) or Tabletop. Close the hip space and extend your right leg behind you. Bring the left foot to the right wrist and the right leg to the right. The shin may be parallel to the front edge (90 degrees) or towards the groin (45)

It depends on your hip flexibility and the shape of your skeleton. Start by settling in and adjusting your leg to prevent excess pressure on your knee joint. Bring the pelvis into the center.

Balance your weight equally between your left and right hips. Avoid having one hip above the other or one hip ahead of the other. Adjust the back leg to be extended, with the top of the foot pressed down.

Start with your hands either pressed against the front leg or at your sides. Take your variation now:

Restorative Kapotasana

Fold your body forward, starting at the waist. Bring your chest to the knees and shins, then down to the forearms. The arms will eventually extend out in front of your body and rest on the mat.

 Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Bring the heel of the back leg towards the seat. While back bending and reaching for the toe, raise your arms above your head. Hold the shoulders and roll them down and back. This will increase the stretch in the hip flexors and groin.

Kapotasana with Props

If your pelvis is too far away from the floor, it will prevent you from relaxing into the space. Under the pelvis, place a folded blanket or block. If your body is folded, you can use a blanket or block to rest your arms if it’s folded. You can use a towel around your foot or ankle if you’re trying to reach your toes when you do the bound variation.

Continue to breathe comfortably and steadily in the pose. Release any props or gently push your body up. Then, using both hands and your back toes, push yourself out of the pose. Change sides in Down Dog or Tabletop.

Additional Tips

It’s easy to get tense in this space. You may also have negative thoughts. Relax into the pose. Breathe deeply and stay calm. Find length and space with each inhale, and go deeper with every exhale.

Beginners may have their front knee bent very deeply. After some practice, you may be able to extend the heel further away and the shin parallel to the front of your mat. Continue moving in this way and adjust with props and variations to make it your own.

Practice every day. Opening the hips helps to open up the rest of your body. Be mindful, and practice ahimsa while you build patience.

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