Pigeon Pose



Quite possibly this is the one pose just about everybody from professional athletes to office workers should include in their daily routines.  This pose is a key hip opener, as well as a significant pose to reduce and eliminate negative effects of stress on the body.  We have spoken of this pose before however I think it is valuable to bring it back as an ALL STAR POSE.


How to: pigeon pose

Starting on your hands and knees, in table pose, be sure the hands and knees are in neutral and free of pain.  Slowly, bring the right knee forward between the hands, this position is a modified pigeon.  The shin is directly under the thigh.  Begin to slide the left leg back as far as your hip flexor, or front of the left hip and quad will allow.  While positioning yourself be careful to keep your hips square.  Do not list to the left or on the right hip.   

If you can start to slide your right thigh from pointing straight ahead to having the knee point to one or two o’clock.    Support your body by pressing down into the floor with your hands and lengthen your torso.  On an exhale lower down to your forearms, again be sure your hips are square.   With more practice you will be able to bring your right foot /ankle closer to the front edge of your mat, until one day your right shin is parallel to the front of your mat.

As you sink into this pose you should feel deep right glute, or hip.  Some people feel it radiate to their hamstring.  You may also feel the front of the left thigh, left hip flexor.  Stop doing the pose, unless under qualified supervision if you feel knee pain at all.  Hold form one to 5 minutes then repeat on the other side.


Benefits of Pigeon Pose

The Role of Pigeon pose is vast.  Done properly and consistently, the most noticeable benefits include:

  • Opens the hip joint
  • Is a significant stretch for opening the buttocks, gluteals and piriformis muscle, which is very helpful for sciatic problems
  • Opens hip flexors
  • Helps relieve low back pain and stiffness

For the Lay person or the Yogi, pigeon pose is a great hip opener.  Regular practice of opening the hips should be a major consideration for everybody.  The hips are the storage depot for stress, traumas, fear, and anxiety.   People suffering from any of those feelings (and who isn’t) should make a regular habit of stretching the hips.  It is a primal reaction to store those feelings in the hip area and create unbelievable tightness and resistance in that area.  If you practice this pose regularly you will realize how true this is.  Gauging how open your hips are to the tough or easy week you are currently having.  

For the Athlete, this pose is critical.  Not only is this pose great for stress relief for athletes, keeping the hips open contributes to two major factors, speed and knee health.  I don’t know of an athlete who is not interested in increasing their speed and keeping their knees free and clear of injury.  An open hip as well as a strong hip is the equation for power, increased power is increased speed.  The more range of motion you have in the hip joint the better your speed.  Probably even more important is keeping knees healthy flexible and strong.  The more open and flexible as well as strong your hips are the greater the chances of minimizing knee injury.  The reason being that any impact on the knee whether from being hit or running impact, or any excess torque on the knee due to agility moves the energy has to be absorbed through the body in some way.  If your hips are open your whole body will be more accepting to the energy exchange, however if your hips are stiff and tight the energy will go to the least resistance which is always the vulnerable, complex knee joint.  Results………….torn knees too often!!!!

Although you should always consult your physician and research a properly trained yoga instructor before starting a yoga practice, there are a few instances where you should avoid this pose entirely:

  • Those with recent hip or knee surgery
  • Those with severe sciatic aggravation
  • Those with current severe hip, knee or low back pain

Have fun exploring this pose and learning about your body


About the Author

Gwen Lawrence has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990. Her current practice includes private yoga training, class instruction and her sport-specific Power Yoga for Sports training program www.poweryogaforsports.com. Gwen’s unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience, coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy,and nutrition, provide her clients, and athletes with overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga coach for several New York Yankees baseball players, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, New York Rangers, several major college teams,including Yale and UNC, and  many youth teams in a variety of sports. She is also the official spokesperson for AFRIN PureSea, and ambassador for Lululemon, her writing appears in Men's Health, Women's Health, Fitness Magazine and shape.com.  She has made appearances on NBC TODAY show and many TV news and national radio shows. Gwen also owns her own Yoga School where she trains people to teach the power yoga for sports system.

Gwen lives in the New York tri state area with her Husband, and three teenage boys.