A couple of years ago, about 16 months or so after I suffered from a stress fracture in my pelvis (caused by running), I found myself back in physical therapy because the pain had spread--I was no longer feeling pain just in the hip region, but also in the lower back and hamstrings, shooting down the leg. Although they still weren't sure exactly what was going on in my body, one of my "exercises" that I was given by my PT was pigeon pose. Imagine how happy I was to received this pose as a treatment for my pain! Although I had already discovered the pose through yoga, I was happy to have another reason to come into it on a daily basis, and it reiterated my feeling that this pose was good for my body.
In my own life, I've found pigeon pose to help with my lower back pain (often, loosening my hips can help to the release the pull on my lower back), sciatica-type pain, IT band issues, piriformis syndrome (which I am CONVINCED I have!) and psoas pain. Whenever I feel tightness or pain in any of these areas, which I often do due to my old injuries, I come into pigeon, and it is always a big sigh of relief for my body. I just can't get enough, and I know that there are a number of you out there who feel the same way, since it won in my pose poll for most popular hip opener (80% of the votes!).
New to the pose and want to try it? For detailed directions on how to come into pigeon pose, see Yoga Journal's description of the pose, here.
A few of my favorite tips are below:
For those who would like to take pigeon even deeper or add a variation, you can add a twist--again, see picture on the left. To find the twist, thread the arm that is on the same side as the extended leg underneath the shoulder of the opposite arm. Then reach around the back with the opposite arm for the big toe of the bent leg. Ahhhhhh, feels amazing.
Two things to be mindful of in pigeon:
-Often, when we come into pigeon pose we send the tension from the hips into another part of the body. For instance, we'll clench the jaw or tighten the shoulders without realizing it, since we're trying to breathe through the deep sensations in the hip. So, I recommend doing a quick scan of the body each time you come into this pose in order to release anywhere else in the body that you might be holding tension.
-Typically, we hold a lot of emotions in our hips, so it's not uncommon when we start to open them to feel some sort of emotional release. Some people cry while in this pose, some laugh, some do nothing at all, but know that it's completely normal if you feel an emotional response to the pose. Letting go can be GREAT!
Benefits of pigeon pose (taken from Yoga Journal):
-Stretches the thighs, groins and psoas, abdomen, chest and shoulders, and neck
-Stimulates the abdominal organs
-Opens the shoulders and chest
Contraindications and Cautions (again, from Yoga Journal):
-Tight hips or thighs
Now, check out this gorgeous photo of pigeon (upright variation)!
I know, simply beautiful. And, since I could write about my love for pigeon pose all day long, I'm going to cut myself off right now. Do you, too, love pigeon? If so, share!!!