Pigeon is a yoga pose we all love to hate. Its dynamics are intense and liberating at the same time.
Pigeon can aid in a laundry list of issues and symptoms, but for many, pigeon is a pose that we often just flop into with no real direction or understanding of how we should position our body and why.
Pigeon is about unlocking our deepest fears, traumas and anxieties, a pose that releases the pressures put on our lower two chakras.
These lower two chakras, the root and the sacral; house our relationships with ourselves and our relationship between you and me (one on one).
It’s our grounding potential: our needs for survival, intimacy, trust and stability reside here.
Furthermore, it's been my observation that we're a society in dire need of grounding, releasing and developing trust. Moreover, it will be difficult to trust others if you don't trust yourself.
Having spent most of my life in recovery, I never really understood what that meant until I myself realized that I did not trust myself, honor myself and (to be blunt) like or love myself in any shape or form.
The anxiety I'd feel in pigeon was the same anxiety I was feeling in life, in those tight uncomfortable situations, and as I practiced and journeyed down the road of recovery I began to notice a huge parallel in the two experiences.
To me a big part of yoga is allowing yourself to feel, and what I mean is not just coming into class, flying around your mat for 75 minutes and then laying down and calling it a day.
Feeling on your mat means that yes you get in touch with your emotions, but also feeling in your body what is actually going on both on a physical level and an internal level. As we better understand what a pose is trying to offer us we can then better appreciate the need for it and maybe even sustain a longer period of time in the pose.
For many people their pigeon is lost from the nest with little awareness as to where to go, they are just mimicking the gestures of the other pigeons hoping it is right and being guided with few words (which is O.K.) as to the release is in the hips. There is a lot of hip in a person’s body, a lot of territory one can experience the pose when the direction is given stretch in the hip.
Most teachers guide students into pigeon, if the right leg was coming forward then the right knee would pull to the right, followed up by dragging the right heel over towards the left hip and then possibly forward as far as they can. For many years this is how I taught pigeon.
Following this alignment the student either tries to come upright and because the hip flexors and quadriceps are tight and abdomen possible weak, the pelvis won’t move so instead they jar they upper torso back to make it feel like a stretch. After a few breaths there, they fall forward and sag to the mat waiting for the cue to come out of the pose.
When understanding more about the body, especially the hips you being to understand and appreciate that not all poses are created equal, and when you understand that if your body can’t do something you want it to do, it will compensate with another body part, taking my example of the torso being upright in pigeon, the pelvis is fixed and doesn’t move due to restriction so the student finds the more mobile body part to still come upright at the suggested height, not realizing they never really moved the restricted area in the first place.
So I love to know why, and in addition, I like to make sure students are very clear on understanding why they are doing what they are doing and what they could be possibly feeling.