Pigeon Pose is one of the most widely loved postures in the yoga practice across a multitude of styles. Fortunately its for a good reason, however the issue I see is that most of the time this posture comes with little guidance as to how to activate your muscles and align your bones and joints. In this video I share my top three steps to a deep stretch in the hips without compromising the knee joint.
In my most recent online workshop, "Hips: Rock and Unlock Em" I go over some key actions in detail and guide students into one of my favorite variations of pigeon posture, so if you like what you get in this video definitely check out that full 2 hour workshop that goes over all you need to know about hip opening.
The key point that I go over in the video above and in the online workshop is that many of the hip muscles cross the hip joint AND the knee joint, and so when we stretch the hips we quite often are stretching the knee. One of the techniques I personally use is something called a Facilitated stretch in order to target the belly (middle) of the muscles rather than the attachment points near each joint. Facilitated Stretch simply means an activation of the same muscles that are stretching. In the case of pigeon I aim for the activation of the buttock muscles.
The Gluteus Maximus in particular is my focus because it feeds into the IT band, and the IT band connects to the knee joint. Any stretch of the buttocks could result in a straining of the knee. I find it incredibly helpful to activate the buttocks in order to ground and stabilize the knee joint. In addition I also offer an activation from the other surrounding joint - the ankle. By activating certain muscles of the ankle I have found more access to spaciousness in the knee.
To be fair nothing is full proof, however I have tested these techniques amongst various body types over the past ten years and I have found it to be incredibly effective for most students. The result is deeper stretch in the hips and less or no strain or pain at all in the knee. That being said this is your body and you have the greatest understanding of it when you tune in to how you feel and what you feel. The online Hips workshop is designed to help you with exactly that - Learn to feel your body on a more specific and nuanced level. Enjoy this free tutorial and as always let me know if you have questions about your body or your practice. If the video is helpful please share it!
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