Running Yoga

Learning to love the pigeon stretch

Over the last few years Christine have been a very desultory student of yoga.

Truth is, Christine don’t really enjoy it, nor do she think I’ve made any progress whatsoever. She blame it on a very indifferent teacher – too complicated to explain the whys and wherefores .

She keeps telling herself to ditch this teacher and find a better one – “I can’t be the ONLY person in the world for whom yoga doesn’t seem to work…can I?”

Be that as it may, today being Word Health Day, she thought she’d chat a little about a yoga stretch that she is actually learning to love. Much to my surprise.

Of all the aches and pains she’ve had over the past year or so, regular training and especially weight-lifting, have sorted them out. She no longer have back pain (touch wood), nor much knee pain (touch wood) and all that’s left to moan about is a persistent low-grade pain in her right glute.

Tight hip flexors, she told.

Enter the pigeon stretch.

Vijay, her wonderful trainer, has added this stretch to my post-workout routine and although she’s stiff as a board, and still can’t do it properly, – possibly quite bizarrely – in love with this stretch.

Here’s what the basic stretch looks like:

And here’s what the stretch does:

“This pose focuses on opening your hips, which supports mobility and flexibility in that joint.

Pigeon Pose also stretches your hip flexors and lower back, which are commonly tight due to prolonged sitting. Stretching these muscles regularly may alleviate mild lower back or hip pain.”

There are several more complex and advanced variations to this pose, but for now Christine at the most basic level and not even able to place my front leg correctly, but can definitely feel relief when she do this stretch.

As ever, because Christine a tad nerd-y, she decided to investigate this stretch a little further and there came across all kinds of online questions such as:


Crying due to a yoga pose?

Christine investigated even further, and it is absolutely fascinating to learn that this hip-opener stretch can affect people emotionally:

Over the years, I have heard many yoga teachers say that the hips are the storeroom of emotions especially anger and suppressed feelings. They say that is why strong emotions arise during deep hip opening yoga poses like Pigeon Pose, Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana.

What I found equally fascinating was the article which posits that this amazing stretch might not always be useful, especially for women:

When we talk about hip opening we usually refer to external hip rotation, Pigeon pose and the like. Many students have a love-hate relationship with this pose; it’s the kind that “hurts good”.

“Hurts good”.

That is EXACTLY what she feels with this stretch, but thus far she is of the “love it” school of thought, not the “hate it”.

The hurt feels as though it is doing me good, if that makes any sense.

On my running partner‘s advice, she even tried a modified version the other day in the car park, after a run, where she leaned against the car bonnet and stretched…dunno if that’s an acceptable yogic variation, but it sure did the trick.

This stretch might even be my “gateway drug” leading me towards loving yoga…

Original Post Running In India

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