Pigeon Pose modifications
July 2, 2023
Pigeon Pose modifications
Written by : pathofyoga
Pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) helps to release tension in the hip flexors, glutes and piriformis, by gently stretching these muscles and encouraging hip flexibility and relaxation.
In its traditional form, the pose may be inaccessible or challenging for some students. Offering modifications can be a safe, attainable and personalised solution; allowing students of diverse needs and abilities to experience the benefits of pigeon pose.
Here are a few variations for pigeon pose that can be used to accommodate different levels of flexibility and specific needs:
Pigeon Pose with Props: For students who have tight hips or struggle to find stability in the pose, you can suggest using props. Placing a folded blanket or bolster under the stretching hip provides support and elevates the hips, reducing strain. This modification allows the student to relax and gradually work towards a deeper stretch.
Seated Pigeon Pose: If getting down to the mat is challenging for a student, they can perform a pigeon pose in a chair. To begin, they cross the right ankle over the left knee, keeping the foot flexed. Encourage them to gently press the right thigh away from the body while maintaining an upright posture. This variation provides a hip stretch while maintaining stability and comfort.
Thread the Needle: This modification is suitable for students who have difficulty with kneeling or need a more supported variation. To start, students lie on their back with their knees bent, then cross the right ankle over the left knee, flexing the right foot. Encourage them to gently press the right thigh away from the body, until they feel a stretch in the right hip. They can use their hands to hold the left thigh or shin for support. This variation provides a similar hip-opening effect while reducing pressure on the knees and wrists.
The 90/90: Also known as Figure-Four or Square Pose, this is a modification of pigeon pose that provides a gentler stretch for the hips while protecting the knees. Students start seated on the mat, and begin by bending their right knee and aligning their shin with the front edge of the mat. The left knee is then bent, and the left shin aligned with the side of the mat, creating 90 degree angle in each leg, and in the space between them. From here students can gently lower forwards, and explore moving the torso to the left and right to find a hip release that suits them.
Shifting the focus towards honoring the body’s current limitations, and finding a variation that feels appropriate for the present moment, empowers students to cultivate self-awareness and make conscious choices. Ultimately, the intention behind yoga is not to force the body into a predetermined shape, but to create an environment of self-acceptance and inner exploration.
We are all unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another. By listening to their body and embracing modifications, students can adapt poses to their current abilities and energy levels – which will change each day! This mindset helps to develop a sense of self-care and self-compassion and encourages a sustainable and mindful approach to yoga, reducing the risk of injury and creating space for a more enjoyable and nourishing practice.
Path of Yoga is a Yoga Alliance certified 200 hour and 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training school.
We hold Yoga Teacher Trainings throughout the year in Thailand (Chiang Mai), India (Rishikesh) and Peru (The Sacred Valley).
You can find out more about Path of Yoga and our YTT’s here.
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