Pigeon is a great restorative pose for the hips and glutes. The deepest stretch is felt in the gluteus maximus. It can be a very difficult pose at first if you don’t have the flexibility in the hips or if you’re unfamiliar with the pose, but it is an extremely useful restorative pose. Learn how to correctly get into pigeon pose and what to engage here.
You can move into pigeon from down-dog or from a prone position. From downward-facing dog, bring your right knee to your right wrist, and your right foot across the mat toward your left hand.
The closer the left foot gets to the hand, the deeper the stretch will be. The smaller the bend in your right leg the easier the stretch. (A 90-degree bend will be much more difficult than a 45-degree bend).
Slowly rest your right leg onto the ground, resting on the outside of the leg. Use the top of your left foot to edge your left foot closer to the back. This will also create a deeper stretch. Then, walk your hands back so that they are either side of the hips, and pull your hips forward.
Relax your right hip and glute toward the ground. Keep the right foot flexed.
After this, walk your hands forward, and lower your chest and head to the ground.
This is where it can get difficult, so just remember to breathe easy and let gravity do its thing. Keep the right foot flexed to prevent any risky tendon business in the right knee. To get out, walk your hands back to where they would be for downward-facing dog, just in front of the outstretched right leg, root the back foot by bringing the bottoms of your toes to the ground, and reach your right foot back.
Tip: JUST BREATHE. It can be a very intense stretch, but if you can control your breathing, you WILL make it through the pose.
Modification: Eye of the needle. (Or as I like to call it, eye of the storm). From a supine position, bring the outside of your right ankle to the left thigh, just above the knee. Dorsi flex the right foot. Reach your left around the outside of your left leg, and reach your right hand through the gap between your legs, and then interlace your fingers. Pull your left thigh closer to your body. Same muscles being stretched, less stress on the knees, but also a less intense stretch.
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About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
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