Why you should do pigeon pose daily


Jacklyn Wassell, Fitness and Sports Instructor

Pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), a pose used in many yoga classes to open the hips, can benefit more than just the avid yogi. Everyone from the sedentary office worker to the high performance athlete can benefit from adding pigeon pose into their daily routine.

Many people carry tension in their hips. Many jobs require sitting all day, which keeps your hips from the movements (flexion, extension, rotation) they need to remain agile. Activities such as running, cycling and even everyday walking require hip strength, but not flexibility. And stress can create tension in the whole body, especially in the hip area.

Pigeon pose is the perfect pose to release tension and maintain hip flexibility because it stretches both the hip rotators (buttocks area) and the hip flexors (the muscles that run along the front thighs and pelvis). External rotation of the front leg as well as internal rotation of the back leg are required, making this a multi-muscle hip stretch.

Pigeon pose helps to elongate the back, open the hips, groin and hamstrings, can alleviate pressure on the low back and decrease symptoms of sciatica. The hips are central to proper body functioning and can affect posture, alignment and overall flexibility, all of which are improved when the hips are flexible and loose. Open hips can also release negative energy and feelings from your system as tension, stress and anxiety are often stored there.

Pigeon pose is critical to athletes for their overall health, speed and agility. Stress in the hips is often transferred
to the knees, which can affect an athlete’s ability. Open hips lead to less knee strain which means a greater range of motion. This is especially beneficial to tennis, basketball or soccer players, who do a lot of pivoting.

Flexible hips can also reduce the risk of an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Open hips allow for full range of motion in the back, decreasing lower back strains. Runners can benefit from pigeon pose, as open hips can lead to better form while running and reduce the risk of injury.

When done correctly, pigeon pose can stimulate the internal organs, stretch the deep glutes, stretch the groin and the posts, relieve impinged piriformis, alleviate sciatic pain and help with urinary disorders. There are a few instances when pigeon pose should be avoided, including sacroiliac or back injury, ankle injury, certain knee injuries and extreme tightness in the hips.

See the instructions below to get started. If you have any questions feel free to ask the fitness staff at the Col JJ Parr Sports Centre.

1. Start either in downward facing dog or on all fours.

2. Slide the right knee forward toward your right hand, with the knee at an angle

3. Slide your left leg back as far as your hips will allow. Your right ankle will be angled into your left groin.

4. Keep your hips square to the floor to keep your back safe, and open your hips to their fullest ability.

5. You can either stay upright in this position supporting yourself with your hands, or begin to fold the upper body, resting your head on your hands, a pillow or a yoga block.

6. To get full release of the hips, breathe deeply and release the belly.

7. You can stay in this position from 10 breaths to five minutes.

8. To advance this pose if you are not feeling a stretch in the right buttocks area, slowly inch your right foot towards your left hand until you begin to feel a good stretch, always keeping your hips squared to the floor.