This pose is a deep hip opener that stretches the buttocks and the psoas of the back leg. It will teach you how to find your edge and explore it. Use your breath to surrender during these poses and try out these 10 variations to spice up your time on the mat!
1) Classical Pigeon Pose
- From Downward Facing Dog bend your right knee and draw it into your chest as you float your shoulders over your wrists.
- Turn your right knee so that your shin is parallel to the mat and your right knee is close to your right wrist.
- Walk the left toes back to extend your left leg behind you.
- Set the right shin down. The more flexible your hips are the more parallel your shin will be to the front of the mat and further away from the body.
- Keep the hips level as you gently lay down your back left foot. Keep it extended away from the body.
- Bring your fingertips to your mat next to your hips and press into them, lifting the chest up and expanding your heart open (if you feel off balance, place your hands on blocks).
2) Pigeon Pose with Forward Bend
- From Classical Pigeon pose, keep your hips level and your chest lifted as you gently begin to walk your hands to the front of the mat.
- Leading with the heart, begin to extend your arms straight out and walk them as far as they can reach while gently guiding your chest and forehead towards the earth. If your hips feel tight, rest your forehead on a block instead of the floor.
3) King Pigeon with Strap
- From Classical Pigeon Pose, grab a strap and loop it around the top of your left (back) foot just underneath the toes.
- Grab both sides of the strap in either hand and begin to pull the strap towards your head as your left foot floats off the mat.
- Inhale and lift the chest.
- Exhale and pull the strap so that the foot reaches towards the head. Simultaneously, begin to open the throat by tilting your head back to meet your foot.
4) One legged King Pigeon
- From Classical Pigeon Pose, gently reach back with your left hand as you lift your left foot off the ground.
- Grab hold of your left foot with your left hand.
- Begin to wiggle your foot into the crease of your left elbow.
- Engage your core muscles to hold you up as you take your right hand and extend it in front of you.
- Bend the right arm over your head as you reach for your left hand. Interlace the fingers and breathe. Try to keep the hips level, the ribcage tucked into the body, your chest lifted and a smile on your face.
5) Full Pigeon Pose - Kapotasana
- Start in Supta Virasana.
- Stretch the arms overhead and bend the elbows so that your palms come to the floor by your ears; the fingertips are pointing towards your body.
- Press into the palms as your exhale and push your arms and thighs straight, lifting and arching the body.
- Join the knees together.
- As you stretch the entire spine, bend the elbows and gently walk the hands to grab hold of the toes.
- Rest your elbows on the floor.
- Gradually bring the hands closer until you can hold on to the heels — this will bring your head closer to your feet.
- Gently rest the crown of your head on the soles of your feet.
6) Supine Pigeon
- *This is a great alternative to pigeon pose for those who have very tight hips or can’t lay on their stomach.
- Begin by lying on your back with knees bent and your feet on the ground.
- Place your right ankle over your left knee and lift your left leg up.
- Slide your right arm through the space between your right and left thigh.
- Interlace your left fingers with your right by taking your left hand to the outside of your left thigh and grabbing hold of your right fingers behind your left thigh.
- Use your right elbow to gently press into your right thigh to open up the hip.
- Straighten your left leg into the air get to a deeper stretch in the hamstring or allow your left leg to be parallel to your left knee for a gentler stretch.
7) Pigeon with Upper Body Twist
- Begin in Full Lying Down Pigeon Pose
- Gently begin to walk your hands to the left.
- Without moving your hips allow your upper body to twist towards the left.
8) Pigeon with shoulder opener
- Begin in Full Lying Down Pigeon Pose
- With hands extended in front of your body, gently walk them back towards your body until you’re up on your fingertips.
- Inhale as you raise your right arm into the air.
- Exhale and thread it under your left arm coming onto the right shoulder.
- Walk the left hand out and fully extended from the body.
- To deepen the stretch lift your left arm up, rotating your left shoulder so that your palm faces the sky as it extends out in a “T” position from your shoulder.
- Gently bend the elbow to allow the left arm to rest on the low back.
- Gently let the left shoulder rest towards the earth.
9) Arm balance pigeon
- Begin in Tadasana.
- Shift your weight onto your left foot as you bring your right ankle to cross over your left knee.
- With your hands at heart center begin to lower down towards the earth by bending the left knee while keeping the spine straight.
- Gently place both of your hands on the floor a few inches away from your body.
- Bend your elbows so that your shin can rest on the back of your arms.
- Engage your core muscles as you lift your left foot off the ground.
- Extend your left leg straight out behind you.
10) Aerial Yoga Pigeon
- Begin in Downward Facing Dog in your hammock.
- Walk the hands out as you lift your feet off the earth.
- Allow the hammock to fall from your waist down to your shins or ankles.
- Keep your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
- Putting weight into the left foot, lift the right foot out of the hammock and bring the knee towards the right wrist.
- Gently lower down the knee to the earth with your shin facing parallel to the mat.
- Keep weight in your left foot on the hammock.
- From here, either a) place your hands at your sides and come into pigeon pose with your hands by your ribs, chest lifted, and your gaze at the horizon or b) walk your hands until they are extended out from the body. Leading with the heart, allow your spine to lengthen as you slowly lower yourself toward the mat. Allow the head and neck to fall last.
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