Pigeon Pose Possibilities

Pigeon Pose Possibilities

Actionable Steps to Refine Your Alignment

kapotasana

PIGEON POSE

The word “possibility” is so powerful—it’s deeply connected to the word “hope.” Possibilities is an even better word because that means there are multiple options, with more opportunities to find what aligns with you. Hearing this in a yoga class can really support your ability to be more at ease; there may just be an option that will assist you in your desired pursuit within a specific practice, which may turn into a favorable experience you weren’t even expecting. In Matt’s classes, you’ll find an abundance of possibilities to completely transform your asana practice in the most positive way. This can be attributed to the fact that he breaks down each posture in great detail. In today’s Pigeon Pose tutorial, you’ll come away with the knowledge of how to make appropriate adjustments for your body in various stages and variations of the posture.

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ALIGNMENT

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ANKLE DORSIFLEXION

Pigeon Pose is an excellent hip opener, no doubt about that, but can we even enhance this effect and increase the benefits? There are some alignment cues that can help! For example, Matt directs you towards the articulation of the ankle. You’ll see in today’s video that he instructs you to dorsiflex both feet. You might also be propped up on 2 blocks, one under the front shin and one under the buttock of the front leg, with the front foot hanging just off the block to make room for maximum dorsiflexion. If you take your attention to the back foot, this is where you can increase the stretch in the front hip. It’s the dorsiflexion of the back foot—pressing the ball of the foot down, lifting your hips up, and pulling yourself back—that creates the deeper stretch.

WATCH THE VIDEO

PIGEON POSE POSSIBILITIES: ACTIONABLE STEPS TO REFINE YOUR ALIGNMENT

PIGEON POSE CHAIR VARIATION

Grabbing a chair and incorporating it into your Pigeon Pose practice can really revolutionize your experience. A good place to start might be to sit on the chair and cross one ankle over your knee. Leaning forward in that shape can boost the stretch sensation.

Let’s look at the other possibilities Matt offers. There’s a lot to explore. Other variations with the chair offer options if you need to be higher off of the ground. At the same time, this setup presents opportunities for you to achieve greater range in your hips. By adding blocks in your setup, you can achieve significant range while respecting various progressions. 

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PELVIC ROTATION FOR DEEPER STRETCH

Even though “getting a deeper stretch” is associated with being the “goal” when it comes to a hip-opening posture like Pigeon Pose, it’s important to be discerning when it comes to what is appropriate for you at a given time. Going into deeper range should only be considered when you can maintain a level of strength and stability in your positioning.

In the last variation, you are shown how to gradually and safely explore the range. As in the first variation, the back toes are curled under and you lift your hips up to more easily manipulate the movement of the pelvis. At this point, you rotate your pelvis towards the midline, which creates more of a twist and that deeper stretch.  

In this and any variation, you can decide how much is appropriate.

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INCREASED HIP HEALTH

Understanding hip health begins with increased awareness of your body. As previously mentioned, taking your time as you explore alignment and range in each variation can provide you with a lot of feedback. What is presenting itself? Is it hypomobility or hypermobility? 

Healthy hips are made up of strength, mobility, stability, and flexibility. If you tend to be hypermobile, for example, incorporating strength into the ranges you explore can be extremely beneficial. On the other hand, hypomobility doesn’t mean that you neglect strength, which in this case may also be extremely beneficial. The key is to be even more cautious and patient when it comes to increasing stretch sensation and range.

In Matt’s Alignment Immersion, you’ll discover much about Pigeon Pose while building a deeper connection to your body.

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Alignment Immersion, Splits Immersion & Hip Mobility Immersion

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Pigeon Leg Lifts

Pigeon Leg Lifts

Ignite Your Core-Hip Connection

pigeon drill

PIGEON LEG LIFTS

Pigeon Leg Lifts are the perfect example of how you can flip a common yoga posture on its head. You may have explored several variations of Pigeon Pose, but this out-of-the-ordinary drill/variation requires something quite different. Pigeon Leg Lifts boost your ability to feel how much of a role the psoas plays in how you experience your core. In fact, the psoas is considered to be part of the core, but it is not always part of the conversation. Its location in the body, combined with the knowledge of how to highlight it in your yoga practice, helps to bridge the gap between your core and hips. Tapping into this results in greater strength and stability in your yoga practice.

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THE PSOAS 

The iliopsoas (often referred to as the psoas) is actually a combination of two muscles, namely the iliacus and psoas major, but is often thought of as one. It’s unique in that it’s the only muscle in the body that crosses over between the upper and lower body. The psoas is a deep muscle that attaches to the lumbar spine and the inner thigh bone. Due to its location in the body, one of its main roles is to stabilize the lumbar spine. The psoas is both a hip flexor and external rotator of the hip, playing a significant role in how you move, on and off of the yoga mat. Contracting this muscle in Pigeon Leg Lifts promotes deeper range of motion and helps you connect more deeply with the abdominal muscles that are part of the core (i.e., rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques).

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PIGEON LEG LIFTS:  IGNITE YOUR CORE-HIP CONNECTION

THE CORE-HIP CONNECTION

The psoas works in conjunction with the other core muscles. As mentioned, it’s both a hip flexor and hip external rotator, but it also creates flexion of the spine. Spinal flexion is an entry point to understanding the core-hip connection. In my previous blog, Rectus Abdominis Handstand Drill, I discussed how Matt very intentionally utilizes the activation of rectus abdominis in order to create spinal flexion. Both the psoas’s ability to create the same action and the placement of its attachment points reveal that the psoas is essentially a bridge between the core and the legs. Understanding the link between the core and the hips has the ability to transform your yoga practice.

Activation and strengthening of the psoas is not often illuminated in unique ways in yoga classes. Practicing Pigeon Leg Lifts offers the opportunity to heighten the sensations within the core and the hips.

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WAYS TO EXPLORE PIGEON LEG LIFTS

In today’s video, Matt demonstrates 2 ways to execute Pigeon Leg Lifts. In the 1st option, you’ll see that it’s almost like a “push-up” action with multiple repetitions. The pushing up, however, comes from driving your hips up as far away from your mat as possible. In both options, your arms stay straight, but the 2nd requires that after you lift your hips, you sustain and hold for a few breaths. If you’re looking to fire up the core, then Pigeon Leg Lifts will do it!  You can’t escape the intensity of what’s involved. As you lift your hips all the way up, you are simultaneously creating more spinal flexion while your front upper thigh is in external rotation to maintain the “Pigeon position.” If that’s not enough, the action of pressing down the ball mound of the back foot also ignites the psoas and the hip flexors of the back thigh.

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WHY IS THIS USEFUL?

The strengthening of the core, including the psoas, along with deeper spinal flexion is no doubt the “show stopper” of these Pigeon Leg Lifts. Doing this drill will promote greater stability and mobility for enhanced movement on and off of the mat. What’s incredible about the way Matt teaches is that he always provides a compassionate push. In the full class, he says that deliberately engaging muscles in your practice helps you understand what you struggle with the most. Once revealed, this understanding provides opportunities to work on those areas in order to achieve fuller body participation. Within all of this physical awareness, what ends up happening is an unfolding of the mind. Your ability to confront your perceived limitations also strengthens.

Join Matt’s Breath of Fire Immersion to experience the fullness of your practice.

See you on the mat!

The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Breath of Fire Immersion

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

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Pigeon Without Knee Pain

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.

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HIPS & HAMSTRINGS

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  • Active, passive, and isometric stretching
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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.

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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

Continue Learning

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana Hints

Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
Postpone The Stretch Sensation

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Wake Up Your Wheel Poseheart openerWAKE UP YOUR WHEEL POSE We don’t have to question it—we know whether or not we’re feeling open, free, and strong in Wheel Pose. There’s a lightness and expansiveness that takes over when everything falls into place: From the initial...

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Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

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Steps to Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion Pose. We can also use words such as grounding or even relaxing, which might initially be considered strange descriptors. When we...

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