Pigeon stretch is a yoga posture or asana that helps to reduce lower back pain. In addition, this posture can increase the flexibility of your muscles. And, one should keep in mind that this asana can cause injury or pain, so it should be done under the supervision of an expert.
Basically, pigeon stretch is a set of asana that is performed as a warm-up for the posture ‘Eka Pada Rajakapotsana.’ It includes a one-legged King Pigeon Pose, in which you bent your back legs to stretch your spine deeply in an advanced posture to bring the foot near the head.
Pigeon posture is difficult to attain because one has to keep one leg forward, another one backward, and bend his back. Therefore, initially, one should go ahead with gentler options like restorative yoga and later on shift towards pigeon posture.
Effects of Pigeon Stretch on Your Body
When it comes to hip flexibility, people who do yoga, instantly recommend Pigeon stretch. It is a usual but admirable approach to muscles connecting the leg and pelvis. These muscles can become stiff due to the modern setting, working, and driving practices.
Pigeon stretch has unlimited benefits on the body. First, this pose provides flexibility to your back muscles, which become stiff due to prolonged sitting in one position. This ultimately leads to mobility and flexibility in your whole body.
Another major benefit from Pigeon stretch is related to the abdomen. The gentle stretching of the lower abdomen supports the digestion process. Lastly, Pigeon posture is also known to reduce fear, sadness, and stress.
Nevertheless, pigeon stretch is a very intense posture. However, the variations of this asana help an individual to approach the Pigeon stretch in a safe manner by reducing any fear in those who are attempting it for the first time.
Types of Pigeon Stretch
Pigeon stretch has four variations. Some of these variations are easy, while some are even more difficult than the main pigeon king posture. Here are 4 types of pigeon posture:
- Classic pigeon stretch pose.
- Resting pigeon stretch pose.
- King pigeon stretch pose.
- Flying pigeon posture pose.
Let’s move towards Pigeon posture but before that let’s do a little warm-up.
Warm Up for Pigeon Stretch
One should start warming up for the Pigeon posture with the eye of the needle pose. Though this posture may look different from a pigeon stretch, it is accessible for most people. If you are not a regular yoga doer, then this is a good posture to start with.
- Lie down with your backside on the floor. Bend both your knees towards the ceiling and keep your feet on the floor.
- Bend your right leg and place the ankle on top of the left thigh, while your knees should point outside.
- Lift and keep your left foot at the parallel of your knees.
- Clasp both hands around your left knee with your right hands crossing under the right leg.
- Bring the left knee towards your chest while your right knee moves away from the chest.
1. The Classic Pigeon Stretch Pose
Now that you are warmed up and ready for the pigeon stretch, let’s start with the simple and basic classic pigeon stretch pose.
- Place the yoga mat on the floor and put your both hands and right and left knee on the mat. Keep your palms down and press them. Move your back in the upward direction and bring your feet down on the floor such that your body is in the opposite V position.
- Put up your right leg off the floor and bring your right knee closer to your right wrist (as close as you can). Rotate the right shin to bring it to parallel to the floor.
- Place your left leg stretched as it was.
- Move your right knee outward and farther from your right back and keep your right foot dorsiflexed towards the shin. Lower your right back gently towards the ground and ensure that your weight is equally distributed. If you feel any difficulty, then put a towel beneath the right back.
- Elongate your spine by placing both hands under the shoulders and pressing gently into the palms. Pull up your head to look straight forward and stretch the spine. This posture is the classic pigeon stretch.
- Take a deep breath and exhale. Cross your forearms in front of you and stretch your arms while you keep your elbows bent. Place your forehead on the crossed forearms in front of you. If you begin to feel uncomfortable then don’t do this, instead reach forward as much as you can.
- Move away from your shoulders, from your ears, and bring them into a relaxed state.
- Hold the position for 10 slow deep breaths.
- Repeat with the left leg.
Let’s move on to the resting pigeon pose.
2. Resting Pigeon Stretch Pose
The resting pigeon stretch pose is tougher than the classic pigeon pose and is recommended to do after accomplishing the classic pigeon stretch pose.
- Place a yoga mat on the floor and sit on it with your straight palms and knees bent.
- Bring your right knee behind your right palm wrist.
- Place your left leg on the floor and stretch it long behind you.
- Keep your feet parallel to the ceiling.
- Move your right shin and bring it to parallel to the yoga mat.
- Make sure your right knee is flexible.
- Inhale and then exhale.
- Stretch your hand in front parallel to each other.
- Rest your head on the ground or your forehead.
- Gradually bring your upper body back into the straight position.
- Rehearse the process with your left leg.
3. King Pigeon Stretch Pose
The resting pigeon stretch pose brings you closer to performing the King pigeon pose. It makes your body flexible enough to perform this pose. So let’s begin with the following pose.
- Place a yoga mat on the floor.
- Sit in the downward-facing dog position
- Make the opposite-V shape
- Bring your right knee near the right-hand wrist, keeping the feet inward.
- Now sit down with your right leg bent forward and your left leg stretched backward.
- Keep your hand straight on the floor.
- Bend your left leg upwards.
- Bend your spine backward and try to touch your feet with your head.
- Maintain this position for 5-10 breaths.
- Do the whole process again with the right leg.
4. Flying Pigeon Stretch Pose
Flying pigeon stretch is the most difficult pigeon stretch, but also the most beneficial pose. You should try to do this pose only after you have successfully completed the king pigeon pose. As the name suggests, this is a flying pose where you keep your weight and balance on the forearms.
- Place the yoga mat and attain the opposite V position.
- Lift up your right foot and hold it as vertical as you can.
- Place your weight on the right and left arm.
- Lift your left leg and bend it inwards.
- Place the left leg on the elbows.
- Now you have attained the flying pigeon pose.
- Hold this position for 10 breaths.
Risks Associated with Pigeon Pose
Pigeon pose is a tough yoga asana but incredibly beneficial for spine straitening. If you can’t do it properly. then you may end up hurting yourself. Here are the things you need to consider before doing the pigeon pose.
- If you have chronic back, lower back, or hip issues then you should avoid the pigeon pose. Similarly, people with musculoskeletal injuries should not perform pigeon stretch without consulting their doctors. And, pregnant women should not do the pigeon pose.
- If you are facing a problem with bending the knees appropriately then avoid the pigeon pose as bending the knee in the wrong way would cause knee injury in the long run.
With some tips, you can overcome the risks, like if you place a folded towel beneath your right back and thigh to improve the positions of your hips and knees. This will reduce pressure on the knee and hence the risk of injury too.
The best attempt at doing the pigeon stretch is in the care of a trained yoga instructor. That is not only safe but also you will be able to perform the pose in the right manner.
The Last Word
Pigeon stretch is a complicated yoga pose that can bring flexibility to muscles and reduce lower back pain if done properly. The posture is extremely beneficial and should be done in the care of a yoga instructor who will take you through a series of warm-up postures before the pigeon stretch.
The benefits of Pigeon stretch are countless and they include improvement in stiffness from prolonged sitting, supporting digestion, curtailing grief, fright, and anxiety. There are 4 major types of pigeon stretch – classic, resting, king, and flying, in the increasing order of difficulty. People having back pain issues, musculoskeletal injuries, knee issues, and women who are pregnant should avoid pigeon pose.