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Extended one-legged Pigeon: Animal Yoga Pose Series

UTTITHA EKA PADA KAPOTASANA (PREP)

Level 1: Beginner

Benefits:

  • Stretches the piriformis and external hip rotator muscles in the bent leg (hip opener)
  • Can reduce sciatic nerve pain by reducing compression/irritation by the piriformis
  • Lengthens the IT band in the bent leg
  • Gentle stretch of the psoas in the straight leg
  • Activates core to level the hips
  • Can be calming for the mind

Contraindications/Cautions (consult your physician):

  • Knee injuries/inflammation
  • Hip injuries/inflammation
  • Sciatica (may help but consult your doctor/physio first)

 

Pigeon stage 1
Keep the shoulders relaxed down and away from the ears, and do not lock the elbows (steps 1-5).

 

  1. Begin in all-fours or downward facing dog. Inhale.
  2. Bring the right leg forward on the exhale, bending the knee so that the right ankle is in front of the left hip, and the right ankle is dorsi-flexed.
  3. Straighten the left leg out behind you as you inhale, keeping it inline with the body, so that the top of the foot is pressing down into the floor, sole of the foot facing upwards.
  4. Exhale and lower the hips towards the floor, keeping them level by engaging the core. Try gently drawing the legs together to square them.
  5. Stay here and breathe for 5-10 deep breaths, or for the entirety of the posture if the hips are tight. If this is your limit that is ok, just repeat steps 1-5 with the left leg bent and the right leg straight.
  6. If possible, extend the arms forward and lower the torso down, keeping it inline with the body, and the neck neutral. Depending on your personal range of movement, you may want to come to your forearms and breathe here, or lower all the way down to the floor with the forehead resting on the mat, and breathe here.
  7. To come out of the posture, bring the arms back towards the body and gently push back up so you can release the bent leg, and step back to all fours or downward facing dog.
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 with the left leg bent and the right leg straight.

NOTES:

  • You may find you have different experiences with each hip; you may be able to go deeper on one side than the other, this is ok.
  • Keeping the ankle of the bent leg flexed helps to relieve some of the pressure from the knee.
  • You can adjust the intensity of the posture by sliding the bent leg closer to the body to find relief in the posture, or away from the body to deepen the stretch in the hip flexors.
  • Use props to help with alignment if required- a blanket may be placed under the bent hip to help square the hips, or in step 6 you can rest the forehead on stacked fists/a block if the floor feels too far away.
  • Pigeon prep pose can be incorporated into flowing vinyasa practice, or held for longer as part of a restorative practice.

 

Pigeon with forehead on block
Use a block under the forehead to aid alignment if required. Note the squareness of the hips.
Pigeon with forehead to floor
If possible, lower the forehead to the floor and relax down into the mat. Breathe!

IMG_3035

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