“bringing your right leg forward, fold into pigeon.”
words that used to cause me great stress and anxiety, but now might be the most soothing string of syllables in the entire class. Pigeon, a beautiful pose of relaxation, re-centering, and some refreshing hip opening. My safe haven.
What is pigeon pose? First and foremost, it’s a hip opener, and an extremely good one. It works to increase the outward rotation of the femur in your hip socket, and helps to lengthen the psoas, which is a primary hip flexor.
Even if you aren’t as deeply refreshed by taking pigeon as I am, here are some great reasons to start giving pigeon a little bit more love in your daily practice:
1. It stimulates the internal organs, activating the gastrointestinal tract.
2. It opens the shoulders, chest, and lungs, increasing the lung capacity.
3. It lengthens the hip flexor, which is what attaches your femur to your pelvis and lower spine, allowing you to move your knees to your chest and your legs back and forth. Sitting constantly can really damage the flexibility of this muscle group, so if you have a desk job or are a student, make sure to squeeze some pigeons in on your lunch break!
4. It improves posture and alignment.
5. It diminishes lower back pain and stiffness.
6. Since stress and anxiety are often stored in the hips, opening them is thought to release negative feelings and undesirable energy stored in the system.
7. It increases circulation in the urinary, digestive, and reproductive tracts.
8. One of my personal favorites, it helps stretch out the IT band, which may be a little bit sore if you took my previous article about the benefits of running to a new extreme (or if you’ve already started training for SeaWheeze!)
9. Finally, it is an incredibly grounding pose. You’re completely folded over yourself, still and focused in your breath, and grounded to the earth from nearly every point in your body. So wherever your pigeon may take you, try to center yourself in it, find your breath, connect with your mat, and accept within your body all of these beautiful benefits that the pose has to offer you.
*a million thanks to Bonnie, from Village Yoga in Winston, for modeling pigeon pose for us! This shot was taken in her beautiful studio, after a fun and challenging six am class on monday morning.