Alternatives to Pigeon Pose

Alternatives to Pigeon Pose

Alternatives to Pigeon Pose

You are in yoga class and the teacher asks you to move into pigeon.  What if your hips aren’t that open today?  What if you have knee pain in this pose?  What other options do you have?


First of all, you do not want to skip your hip openers.  Hip openers release stored emotions in the body.  The emotions most closely related to the hips are anger and aggression.  This is why you move into pigeon and your hands tighten or your jaw constricts.  If that isn’t enough, your mind takes over and you start replaying something that happened years ago.  Story lines pop up in your head to take you anywhere but here.  Release the hips with breath and the jaw problems lessen and you can learn to stay present.  Time, practice and patience.  If pigeon is not accessible to you yet, try one of the following variations.

z pose

We call this first one “z pose”.  The front leg is similar to pigeon with the shin parallel to the front of your mat.  The back leg bends in like a z.  You can stay upright here, take a twist, or begin to fold forward.  This pose eliminates all knee pain and can keep you safe while you release the hips.

sleeping pigeon

The next one is called “sleeping pigeon”.  Lay on your back and place the right ankle on your left knee.  Take your right hand through the hole formed by your legs and left hand on the outside of your left leg.  From here, draw the legs toward your torso until you feel a stretch.  Be sure to change sides.

Whatever variation you chose, practice it at the end of your practice just before savasana or seated meditation.  Do these poses with deep breathing and watch how things begin to unfold with time, patience and practice.


Elizabeth Delaney