April Fools! (It can’t really help us fly. But we can imagine pigeons in flight as we take Pigeon pose and we can imagine ourselves flying – expanding in whatever ways feel good to us right now.)
And Pigeon has other benefits. Almost every time I go into it, it’s different – more so than with other poses. Sometimes, it feels like a wonderful stretch, exactly what’s needed. Other times, torture. Not months or years apart but day to day. Sometimes even the same day.
With what we now understand about the fascia (that thin membrane that covers our entire bodies just below the skin) holding emotional memory, it makes sense that Pigeon pose is one of the best for releasing some of those blocked emotions. In this part of the world, our hips aren’t as flexible as in parts where people routinely sit on the floor more often.
Still, as with all yoga, use it as an opportunity to become friendlier with your body and mind. If it ever feels like torture, come out of it immediately. Allow yourself to go to your edge, offering your body stretches you don’t often benefit from but work within what’s comfortable, even yummy, for you.
From sitting on your mat, you can get into Pigeon by taking the right foot to the left side of the mat and the right knee at the right side. For a more gentle variation, point the toes towards the left hip. Keep the ankle muscles active.
Lengthen the left leg back behind you by ‘walking’ the knee and toes backwards (am now imagining little disembodied knees and toes, walking on their own but you know what I mean) until you’ve dropped your pelvis down to feel a comfortable stretch. Enjoy that sense of grounding it can offer.
Keep the left hip neutral. Fold forward, keeping the torso aligned, to whatever degree feels good for you.
To come out, place your hands under the shoulders and push up. You can imagine yourself taking flight in the backbend version, pausing for a while there, if that feels good. Maybe even imagining yourself as a beauteous, open-hearted pigeon, taking flight in life. Expanding.
In the forward fold version, it allows us to deepen our belly breath and elongate the exhalation even more, cooling and calming the autonomic nervous system.
In the backbend version, we can deepen our thoracic breathing.
What’s your favourite variation of Pigeon?
Which poses vary the most for you, day to day?
Feel free to comment below.
IF YOU’RE NEW TO YOGA AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THESE POSES, GO TO A YOGA THERAPIST OR INSTRUCTOR. IF YOU’RE NEW TO EXERCISE, CONSULT YOUR GP BEFOREHAND. ALWAYS HONOUR YOUR BODY’S OWN WISDOM