Pigeon Pose

without Knee Pain

Why Stretching your hips might cause knee pain

Pigeon Pose is one of the most widely beloved postures in the yoga practice across a multitude of styles. This is for good reason. However, the issue I see most often with this posture is that it comes with little guidance as to how to activate your muscles and align your bones and joints, and as a result many people experience pain in their knees or quite simply never find an increase in hip mobility.  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 below and in the online workshop is that some of the hip muscles cross both the hip joint AND the knee joint, and so when we stretch the hips we are also stretching the knee. In addition, many hip stretches require putting pressure on the knee joint in order to rotate the thigh bone in the hip joint. 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 fool proof. I have, however, tested these techniques among 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!

Facilitated Stretching

Increases your range of motion while maintaining muscle integrity. Facilitated stretching is the activation or engagement of the muscles that are stretching. Activating the muscle while stretching causes the Golgi tendon organ to send a signal to the spinal column, and the spinal column speaks back, telling the muscles to relax.

yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes [backbend technique to relieve back pain "bowing the spine']

HIPS AND HAMSTRINGS IMMERSION

  • Increase range of motion of your hips and hamstrings
  • Learn techniques such as facilitated stretching
  • Release stress patterns, discomfort, or pain in your hips, back, and knees
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Learn postures: Pigeon, Lizard Variations, Lotus, Eagle, Hanuman, Fire Log, Seated Straddle Splits, and more!
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

3 Steps for Pigeon Pose

Step 1 - Evert the ankle

Everting at the ankle joint aligns the shin at the knee joint, and activates the outer shin muscles (fibularis muscles). In addition, when in pigeon pose, it supports the external rotation at the femur bone (front leg) in the hip socket. When everting, you can try rolling the calf muscle forward toward the front of your mat to initiate external rotation at the knee. This can help to open the inner portion of the knee.

Step 2: Press outer Front knee Down

From your buttock muscles, press the outer front knee down and as a result, you should feel your hips lift up a little bit. If you don’t feel this you may have to think about pulling your front knee toward the back knee. Once you get your buttocks to activate, your femur (thigh bone) will begin to externally rotate. This action supports more congruency (more space) at the knee, and begins a facilitated stretch.

Step 3: Rotate The back Hip inward

Rotating the back thigh bone will help to rotate the pelvis toward the earth. Because the muscles of the front hip are connected to the pelvis, if you rotate the pelvis it lengthens the muscles causing a deeper stretch. I only recommend this if you are feeling at ease in the front knee. If so, go slow because it is very easy to lose what you have already created in step 1 and 2.

ONLINE TEACHER TRAININGS

 

GET CERTIFIED AT THE 200 OR 500 HOUR LEVELS

  • 200 Hour Training: Get certified to teach yoga
  • 300 Hour Training: Take your certification to the 500 hour level
  • Recognized globally by Yoga Alliance 
  • Take your practice to the next level
  • All levels, ages, and experience welcomed

Sit, Stand, Walk.

Keeping the buttock muscles healthy and supple can really help in finding comfort when sitting, standing, or walking. Since most of our day is spent doing one of these three things, I highly recommend taking the time to do postures like pigeon pose, and do them well.

Listen To Your Body

Alignment cues and muscle engagements can be highly beneficial, so take the time to feel how they land in your body. There is no magic action or alignment for everyone, so I really encourage you to explore these actions while truly listening to your body. This particular set of cues might be what creates an “aha” moment for you, or it could be the complete opposite, so try them and ask yourself what you feel and what your experience is. Try to dissociate feeling bad with effort, and good with doing nothing. They sometimes correlate and sometimes not. If these actions wound up being right for you then I recommend practicing them whenever you are doing pigeon, and always maintain awareness of what your body is feeling. Through deep focus and exploration you will be able to collect the right actions for you.  If you found this useful, please share this post and if you are wanting to increase strength and flexibility of your hips and hamstrings check out the Hips & Hamstrings Immersion

4 Comments

  1. naama hadar

    Hello
    My name is Naama, I’ve been following you and I think you’re absolutely great and I hope I’ll get to participate in one of your YTT when my girls grow up a bit..
    Ive been practicing yoga for years now in studios, I did a YTT and during the last year practiced via alomoves .. I feel kind of stuck as if I lost my way and my propioception, my intuition.. I want to improve my general practice, flexibility and arm balances as well as my pranayama, meditation and anatomical knowledge… I am looking for a online program that will be both fundamental and give postural guidelines but that will also be intensive and long enough so that I could consider it my routine daily practice …
    Is there a program you can recommend?
    Thank you so very much ?

    • Matt Giordano

      Hey Naama, I would highly recommend the Hips: Rock Em and Unlock Em workshop on here, this is a two hour workshop and you can practice the first 30-40 minutes daily, and when you have the time get into the second half of it. Its lacked with techniques to expand your practice. In addition you might like The essentials of yoga available on http://www.Tintyoga.com/Matt

      I would recommend both for your purposes.

  2. Olga

    Hi, Matt. I think your cues are really helpful, but my question is what can you do when you have already damage your knees trying the splits. Are there some poses or drills we can do to help healing the knee ? Is there something that we must avoid? Or just stop reti g the splits? Thanks a lot.

    • Matt Giordano

      It really depends on the knee issues you are having. if the issue is coming from a muscle imbalance which is throwing off your alignment than there is a lot you can do and I would suggest my workshop – Hips: Rock Em and Unlock Em available on theyogimatt.com/shop. if it is internal damage of the meniscus than you will need to consult a specialist. I would advice seeing someone regardless so you can get an accurate understanding of what is happening. Where do you feel the pain exactly?

Submit a Comment

🆕 NEW RELEASE 🆕

YOGA AND THE YOGA SUTRAS

YOGA & THE SUTRAS

February 2022 Immersion

  • Refine Your Yoga Practice
  • Move, Sweat, Breathe, Flow
  • Inspired Themes From The Yoga Sutras
  • Full Spectrum Immersion: All Pose Categories
  • Arm Balances, Heart Openers, Shoulder Mobility
  • Hip Openers, Single Legged Balance’s, Strength Building

$148.00 $98.00

Vinyasa: 12 Class Online Immersion

VINYASA IMMERSION

January 2022 Immersion

  • key techniques to deepen & expand your vinyasa practice
  • Refine The Classic Postures
  • Access Popular Peak Posture
  • Master Your Transitions
  • All Levels Appropriate
  • Dancer, Side Plank, Extended Vashistasana, Wheel, Flying Pigeon, etc.
  • Wide Range of Posture:

$178.00 $148.00

Online Yoga classes to learn inversions

INVERSION IMMERSION

December 2021 Immersion

  • Build courage and technique for inversions
  • Learn foundations and preparatory postures
  • Handstand, Headstand, Shoulder Stand
  • Forearm Stand, Chin Stand, Scorpion Progressions
  • Step-by-step methodology
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$198.00 $148.00

 🔥  MOST POPULAR IMMERSIONS & PROGRAMS 🔥

Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

Hips & Hamstrings

RECLAIM YOUR ELASTICITY

  • Learn over 12 hip openers
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Lotus, Flying Pigeon, Splits, Straddle
  • Pigeon, Eagle, Fire Log, Lizard
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$198.00 $148.00

Arm Balances

ARM BALANCES

FREEDOM OF FLIGHT

  • Learn over 12 arm balances
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Crow, Side Crow, Titibasana, Ashtavakrasana
  • Forearm Stand, Koundinyasana 1 & 2, Handstand
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$198.00 $128.00

yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes

HEART OPENERS

DISCOVER THE JOY 

  • Learn over 12 backbends
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Bow Pose, Camel, Dancer, Full Wheel
  • King Cobra, King Dancer, King Pigeon
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$198.00 $148.00

Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

SHOULDER REVELATION

STRENGTH • MOBILITY • BIO-MECHANICS

  • Increase strength and flexibility
  • Decrease risk of injury
  • Release shoulder tension
  • Learn anatomy and biomechanics
  • Access a wider range of postures
  • Stabilize the rotator cuff muscles
  • Learn binds, heart openers, and arm balances
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$198.00 $138.00

Vinyasa and Meditation Yoga Immersion

HANDSTAND TRAINING

2 ONLINE COURSES

  • Part 1: Strength and foundations
  • Part 2: Learn to balance
  • Most effective and efficient handstand drills
  • Build strength, confidence and body awareness
  • Safely increase mobility
  • Learn anatomy and biomechanics
  • 2-part training with tons of videos
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Buy each part separately or both together

$298.00 $148.00

Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

MOVE•BREATHE•RELEASE

YOGA • BREATHWORK • MEDITATION

  • Asana: Transform your body
  • Breathwork: Rejuvenate your energy
  • Meditation: Awaken your mind
  • All 3 essential yoga practices in every class
  • Most powerful tools for physical and mental well-being
  • Yogic principles for mind-body awareness
  • Step-by-step guidence
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$298.00 $128.00

Continue Learning

reverse warrior for better back bend flexibility

reverse warrior for better back bend flexibility

REVERSE WARRIOR INCREASE BACK FLEXIBILITY WITH THIS PARTICULAR ALIGNMENTREVERSE WARRIORREVERSE WARRIOR: PREPARE FOR BACKBENDSFull expansion, widespread freedom, release, and openness -- this might describe what we feel as yogis when it comes to the shape of a backbend...

read more
Deeper Forward Folds with TFL Technique

Deeper Forward Folds with TFL Technique

TECHNIQUE FOR DEEPER FORWARD FOLDS ACTIVATE TFL & RECTUS FEMORIS TO INCREASE HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITYFORWARD FOLDSDEEPER FORWARD FOLDS: PRASARITA PADOTTANASANAIt’s not unusual to feel “stuck” in our yoga practice at times. We may come to a place in our physical...

read more
side crow tutorial

side crow tutorial

SIDE CROW: POSE TUTORIAL UNLOCK YOUR ARM BALANCE PRACTICESIDE CROWSIDE CROW: POSE TUTORIALSide Crow is a challenging yoga posture but is more accessible than most people think. There are ways of “cheating” the posture that can make the shape more attainable such as...

read more
HEALTHY HAMSTRINGS

HEALTHY HAMSTRINGS

HEALTHY HAMSTRINGS FACILITATED STRETCH TECHNIQUE Hamstrings   Hip And Hamstring Flexibility Why Is Hip Mobility Important? Tight hamstrings are a common complaint. It may be because it’s one of the most noticeable things to show up in our yoga practice and in our...

read more
Yoga Jump Backs and Jump Forwards

Yoga Jump Backs and Jump Forwards

YOGA JUMP BACKS & JUMP FORWARDS  THE DREAMY, MYSTICAL FLOATSIDE ANGLEdreamy yoga jump backs and jump forwardsWe’ve all seen those yoga teachers and/or practitioners who float through the transitions of jumping back from Uttanasana to Chaturanga and/or jumping...

read more
Side Angle Self Adjustment for Hip Strength

Side Angle Self Adjustment for Hip Strength

SELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE  ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINSSIDE ANGLESELF ADJUSTMENT IN SIDE ANGLE POSE -- ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES FOR GREATER GAINS Glute gains! Who doesn’t want those, right? When we think about glute gains though, our minds may go...

read more

TOP RECOMMENDATIONS 

Handstand Training

Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This 2 part course consists of the top most effective exercises will increase your strength and technique so you can easefully balance a handstand.

View Details

SHOULDER REVELATION

In this 12 class immersion  you will practice specific techniques to strengthen and unlock your shoulders. Each class focuses on a specific joint articulation and muscle group so you gain mastery in the shoulders.

View Details

HEART OPENERS

Finally, a 12 class immersion designed specifically to help you discover the freedom of heart openers. Learn how to avoid uncomfortable compression, and awaken your true range of motion in a step by step manner.

View Details

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

  • The Technique Pack: 15 Yoga Pose Breakdowns
  • Exclusive Online Course Discounts
  • Exclusive Blogs and Videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Contact Matt

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Thank you! check your email for your free training and be sure to put matt@theyogimatt.com in your VIP or drag emails from me from your spam or "promotions" folder to your Inbox folder. This is where you will receive your FREE videos!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This!

Hey. thank you for reading. If this is helpful please share it!

Shares