Greetings body positive yogis! I’ve received several questions lately about pigeon pose. Most of the trouble in pigeon pose seems to stem from one of the following:
- Knee pain or pressure
- The hip of the bent leg not grounding/touching the floor (feels unstable, like you’re hanging in your joints)
- Uncomfortable to be on hands and knees to even set up for pigeon
I made this video to address these issues.
The main thing I can stress is that if you’re having knee pain, first prop your hip (as I demonstrate in the video), then try adjusting the angle of your knee by bringing your foot closer to your groin. If that doesn’t work, bring your foot closer to the front of your mat. Still feel weird? Try moving your knee toward the outside of your mat. Now adjust your foot again. Every body is different, and even from side to side within our own bodies, we are different. Prop first, so you feel supported, and then experiment!
Another idea is to try “dead pigeon” against a wall. You can press the foot of the lifted leg against a wall for more support and a deeper stretch (since you aren’t holding the weight of your leg as much). Keep pressing the bent knee toward the wall, away from your face.
Two more options I didn’t cover in the video are seated pigeon in a chair and standing pigeon at a desk or table.
Here is the cotton yoga bolster I used in the video. It’s about $35 and one of my favorite yoga props. This is the shirt I’m wearing, and if you’re interested in weightlifting, Lift Big Eat Big is legit, check out their blog and other kickass shirts (this is another personal fave). Oh, and my obnoxious purple pants are from Athleta (size 2x). They are super high quality and I recommend them wholeheartedly.
What do you think?
Thanks for your patience as I figure out my video and audio setup. Still not happy with it, but working towards decent! Did any of the modifications work for you? Do you have another pigeon that we should all try? Tell me in the comments!
Where were you when I first began yoga? Seriously lol. Being an avid yoga student for numerous years I have had to go through trial by error to find modifications that make things easier for me. It’s amazing how many of those modifications show up in your videos. I love it! I mostly use blocks for my wrists and a bit wider stance. For pigeon pose I do option one without the block under my butt but I do prop my arms on two blocks side by side on the lowest “setting”. Pigeon pose is one of my favorites! Hopefully this video will help it become other people favorite as well 🙂
Just a quick note to say thank you a million times for these videos. I’m a teacher who’s definitely a willowy body type, and I often see that my students who have a larger body type are struggling with some of these poses. Your videos have given me a greater understanding of how to help those students modify the asana to suit their shape, which is so valuable when my body shape means the experience is so different for me. And it’s the experience that matters, of course, not what it looks like fro the outside—and that’s true no matter what size or shape we are.
I’m sure your videos have already made me a better teacher. Thank you again.
Thank You Amber! I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to answer my questions on this pose. Your video gives clear and simple instructions on how to modify pigeon, I think my student will love the chair and bolster modification:) Thanks also for responding so quickly to my email. Your beautiful spirit shines through in your work here and I look forward to following your blog.
Thank you – these modifications are so helpful to me – I appreciate your clear and encouraging explanations!
I enjoy your video’s so much! I am a lage-body yoga student (now second year of a 4-year teacher course) . I would like to specialize in yoga for bigger bodies and always on the lookout for modifications, but since I am not teaching yet and my classmates are mainly thin bodied-students, my own body is the only bigger reference I’ve got. Therfore it is great to watch you and see you adressing both similar and different challenges as the ones that I meet in my practice! I surely will keep following your site, it will make me a better teacher within the next years! So tnx, Colette
Just found your blog via The Hairpin – I started doing yoga this past February and it has changed my relationship with my body so much for the better! I was so intimidated by yoga because I had this false notion of who could and could not do it – boy, was I wrong! Yoga is for everybody and every body, no doubt. It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
I will be following your posts regularly now – your blog is lovely both in design and spirit!
Thanks…found you via The Clothes Make the Girl and I’ve been following ever since. (Love the emails, too…I’m always behind on my blog reading, but keep up with emails!) Anyway, thanks for the modifications. I’m crossfitting and find that lots of things are “tight” that I never knew were tight. Can’t do overhead squats to save my life…even after 18 months of CF…apparently my shoulders are tight. Who knew? I’m looking forward to more tips and suggestions. Thanks so much for keeping it real!
Thank you SO much, Amber! I love your blog and appreciate your modifications so much. I’ve suffered from chronic lower back pain for years (and actually, I had surgery to remove a herniated disk a couple of months ago, to not much effect), and I have been searching for stretches to do to strengthen my back, or at least lead to less pain. I tried the Dead Pigeon today, along with the Penguin pose you shared on FB, and WOW. I feel so, so, so much better. I am keeping those asanas in my repetoire. So thank you for that. And I love your body positive approach, it’s wonderful. WONDERFUL. If you can find a way to share any more poses to help with lower back issues, that would be great, but you’ve already been a lifesaver already. Thank you SO much!
Thanks Amber – once again, doing the pigeon pose and “relaxing” seemed impossible. I’m going to try option 1 next time. Only my dog will know 🙂
Amber – tried the option 1 and it worked really well for me! Thanks so much for the suggestion and so happy I found your site!
hey lady! i was searching for something about pigeon and google brought me here. love the concept of your blog i am just starting something similar based on height. to that, i bought myself an extra tall and extra wide mat which arrived just yesterday. it was embarrassingly wide so i cut the width. but finally all of that length?! it actually made a difference in my practice. the standard sized mat made me have to pick if it was my feet or face that would be off of the mat. i found one pretty inexpensive online and for the non-average sized of us i really feel like having the right proportion mat is the same as rockin’ the right sized shoes or bra. plus, i felt great finally having a mat that was the right size for me even though i didn’t think it would make that much of a difference.
Thanks a ton for this video. I could not do pigeon pose to save my life. Now I am ready to grab some blocks and try again!
Thanks so much for offering all these variations and for making a difference in making yoga more inclusive. You rock!
I have just found your blog. Brilliant! Well done!! I teach yoga and my main aim is to promote health and well being through yoga to everyone. I will follow your blog with interest as we both have similar goals. Keep up this great job.
Absolutely awesome video. Can’t wait to try this in class with students who need it!
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Great post on pigeon. Try having the “grounded” leg on the wall with the other crossed over the knee as you have shown. Then as your hip relaxes bring the foot down the wall slowly giving a greater stretch each time the shin come closer to parallel to the floor. Sometime holding a strap creates tension in the shoulders. I hear this especially from some of our heavier students.
Keep the great ideas coming. Many of my students are over weight and older.
Wow thanks for awesome help with pigeon. I am home due to back issues, trying to work on stabilizers for my back and releasing of my many twisted hip muscles. I took your pigeon two and added two blocks under my flatter yoga bolster to raise my pelvis and help my knee and groin relax. Thank You! I can’t wait to see your other videos and helpful strategies.
You are fabulous! Thank you!!!! I am a yoga teacher who wants to be knowledgeable about how to teach EVERY body. I am body positive but didn’t know about these modifications. You are the best!
thank you for this!