This pose is a deep backbend that pushes out the chest. When done properly, the King Pigeon is one of the most graceful poses. To achieve King Pigeon, also known as just the pigeon pose, takes practice and dedication. Even with practice you might only achieve this pose on a good day. With this in mind, keep a calm and kind mind and begin steadily, using a band to help you grasp and hold onto your ankle. You should also undertake a serious warm up before trying!
This is an important pose for all of us who exercise a lot, as well as those of us with a more sedentary lifestyle. When running a lot our hips can tighten, as much as when we sit a lot. Therefore, this pose will help to open out the hips and offer more flexibility.
This pose is an excellent stretch for much of the body. It is particularly effective in stretching the thighs, groins, abdomens, chest, neck, and shoulders. The best thing about this pose is that it stimulates the abdominal organs – so it will help to stimulate and regulate digestion.
You will feel it mostly deeply in the upper leg – but the most important benefit is its restorative effects, helping to relieve stress and anxiety, and helping to counter fatigue.
Remember to breathe evenly though the pose, especially if you feel some discomfort.
Avoid this pose if you have any knee or ankle problems. You may also want to avoid the pose if you are pregnant.
The King Pigeon is an advanced pose; therefore, it should first be done under the instruction of a yoga teacher. Remember to ease into the advanced pose, using props to begin with. A block, blanket and a band are all useful when working towards the full King Pigeon pose.
The king pigeon pose is a particularly intense pose and it is a good idea to listen to your body and adapt the pose if necessary. There are many ways to vary the pose to make the best position for you.
First, your hips may be a little tight and your front hip might not come off the floor. You could use a yoga block, or maybe a blanket or pillow, under the hip of your front leg. This should give you some extra support. It is likely that your front shin might angle back. The aim is to work towards ensuring your front shin is parallel to the front edge. This is not likely to happen at first but is part of the journey to attaining the perfect king pigeon pose.
If you want to use this pose to recover and restore, then you can lean over the front leg and drape towards the floor. Stretch your arms forward and work towards placing your head onto the map.
There are also modifications for advancing the pose. It is possible to raise the intensity of the stretch by deepening the backbend. Then, reach your left arm back and hold onto the inside of the left ankle. Make sure your shoulders are square to the front of your mat. Hold the pose and then slowly release, before repeating this variation with the other leg pushed forward.
To perfect the pose, you need to be able to seek alignment and maintain a calm mind in the process. This, as with everything in yoga, will be a journey of exploration. To attain this perfect alignment, with a calm mind, be mindful as you focus on these details.
First, look to your front heel. The further forward this heel the more intense the pose. To begin with you can bend this knee deeply. As you progress, and your mind settles, edge your shin to be more parallel to the edge of the mat.
Next, keep your front foot flexed, this will protect you knee. Your back thigh should be internally rotated and make sure all five toes of the back foot are rooted into the mat. Remember, each time you move to a new part of the alignment, move your mind to that detail too. Focus on the sensation in this part of the body.
Ultimately, to remain calm and present whilst doing the King Pigeon pose, you must work slowly. Beginning with a less intense version is fine if you are exploring your body with your mind at the time to find the perfect alignment. Remember to use your breath, inhaling and exhaling, and moving through potential frustrations.
The key to the perfect pose will be in the flexibility of the hips. Therefore, stretching your hips each day will help you to extend the pose further. This pose takes time to perfect, as your muscles need time to relax and to lengthen. The process of attaining the pose will eventually benefit the whole body.