Pigeon Pose; its a little bit like Marmite you will either love it or hate it, however hate is such a strong word to use as a nature loving hippie Yogi so let me rephrase that – Pigeon Pose will grow with you over time throughout your practice, in the beginning there might be a feeling of exploding knees and glutes, but as time passes and your practice deepens Pigeon Pose will slowly creep in and become a posture that can give you the most wonderful release, both mentally and physically.
Don’t be too eager to bend your body into postures it’s not ready for, remember the human body is like iron – the warmer it is the more flexible it can become. Before you turn your body into a little pigeon make sure you warm up with some Sun Salutations, if its your first time trying this posture i would recommend a couple of blocks to give your body some support.
Make sure your back leg is extended straight down your mat, then pop a block under the glute/thigh of the bend leg, the further away from your body you have the foot of the bent leg the more intense the pose will be. Try to lift and move your hips so they are sitting square as appose to falling to the side. Finally extend your hands forward laying your chest over the bent leg, use a block under your forehead if needed before using every exhale to relax your body deeper into the pose. Repeat on the opposite side.
Next gently start to remove the blocks whilst being mindful of any discomfort in the knee, keep the extended leg straight back down your mat and the hips square. Extend your hands forward and rest your forehead to the mat. Depending on your body and level of practice hold this posture for 5-10 breathes. Repeat opposite side.
Once you become comfortable in the above postures you can start to bring Pigeon Pose into a heart opening posture too. You will need to be able to sit up and take your hands off the ground whilst keeping your hips square. Keep pushing your glutes down to the ground as you bring the back foot up, from here place the top of your foot into the elbow crease of the same arm; for example if you look in the picture my right foot is snuggled in to my right elbow joint. Finally begin to lift and open the chest bringing the other arm behind you to create a bind. Avoid any strain on the neck by keeping your gaze straight forward. Repeat opposite side.
Don’t underestimate this posture or any heart opening asanas, they can release all sorts of emotions; i can end up quite teary – not because i’m in any pain or discomfort its more a sense of total release and openness. There are a couple of different ways to achieve One Legged King Pigeon Pose; if you have open shoulders and thoracic try bending your back leg bringing the foot off the ground, then as you inhale reach the hands up and back finding your foot. Keep your breath deep but steady as you allow your head to drop back guiding your toes to your forehead. The other way to achieve this posture is by “flipping your grip”, bend the extended leg and take hold of it with your right hand (i’ll use my photo as an example), start to change your grip by directing your elbow up and back – guide your foot to your forehead and once there bring your left hand back to meet your right. Whichever way you choose to enter this asana keep lifting the rib cage, opening the heart and releasing the entire spine. Rest your body in Pigeon Pose before repeating on the other side.
If you’re a pigeon with blocks or a crown, enjoy either way.