Wake Up with Yoga Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 8

Pigeon Play

30 min - Practice


Take a new look at Pigeon pose while exploring creative ways to move in and out of variations of this familiar shape. Your hips will feel relaxed and spacious.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Block

About This Video

Mar 31, 2022
(Log In to track)


Read Full Transcript

Hi, everyone. Welcome. For this class, you're going to be happy to have a blanket and a block, and we're going to explore some fun pigeon variations in standing, lying down, seated, and I will offer lots of options for different bodies and different hips, so just know that if pigeon is something that is sometimes a bit tricky for you, I hope to offer you some ways to play with it. All right, let's go. We're going to start on our side. So I'm going to come down onto my side and just support my head with my hand. If this isn't comfortable, you can just lie your head flat. Then I'm going to take my top foot and plant it behind my bottom knee and just extend this bottom leg. You might use your top hand for balance, and then I'm just going to move this leg a little bit, kind of just flossing through the leg line, giving a little bit of movement, see how it feels. And then when you are ready, you can extend that leg, and a few times just play with lifting and lowering. Lifting and lowering, this will activate the inner line of the leg. There's a quietness to the torso and just some sort of movement and integration through the leg. And then when you feel ready from here, you can bring this right ankle or your bottom ankle if it's not your right leg on top of your top thigh. So it's a figure four shape on your side. And then I'm just going to roll onto that thigh. Beautiful. You could stay here. You don't have to go anywhere. You could lift your top arm. And sometimes I just lift the top leg and extend it into a little momentary balance on the side of the body. Take a breath, pause, and then you can just gently come out of it. And we will switch sides. So you can roll onto the other side of your body. Support your head in the way that feels good for you. Put your top foot behind your bottom knee and just hover your bottom leg and bend and extend, bend and extend. So just creating some movement through that bottom hip joint, knee joint, seeing how things are feeling today. And then maybe you lift and lower that bottom leg. So you're integrating through the inner line of the leg. And if it's tricky to lift the leg with the leg really straight, you just bend your knee a little bit and then the leg lines a bit shorter. So it's a little bit easier. Beautiful. And then when you feel satisfied, you could bring your bottom ankle onto your top thigh, figure four. You might have to give it a little bit of coaching to get there. Bring your bottom thigh down. Pause. And then I just hover maybe the top arm and the top leg. Maybe you close your eyes and just feel the center of yourself arriving. And then gently release it and we'll come up to seated and seated. I'm going to grab my blanket and sit on it. So I have a little prop for my pelvis. And the idea of that is that I'm sitting on a little bit of a downhill slope and it's just like walking downhill. It's easier than walking uphill. So start on a slightly downhill slope and we're going to take a double pigeon. So I'm just in a cross legged shape, but my bottom leg is going to be my right leg and it's an open knee shape. So I'm not pulling my calf into my hamstring. I'm keeping it pretty open. And then I'm just going to bring my top calf, my left calf on top of my bottom. And if this feels quite comfortable, then you might bring your block under your left ankle. Beautiful. Or you could keep the block out and bring your foot down. Either is great. Bring your right hand to your left knee and just gently spin around the center of yourself. Feel both sitting bones on the ground, a little space between your ears. And maybe the breath touching the roof of your mouth, the dome of space in the back of your throat. From here, you come back around to the center, bring your right hand out to the right side of your right hip. I like to bring my left hand to the left side body. Breathe into your left hand and you can either turn your chin to the left or look down to the right. Welcome volume and dimension in the side body. And if it feels comfortable and spacious in your neck, you could lift your arm up. Pause. Great. Gently come up and switch sides. So now my left shin is going to be on the bottom. My right shin on top. I'm just going to waddle a little bit so I can feel both sitting bones on my blanket. Maybe use my block underneath of my ankle, my right ankle, left hand to my right knee this time, spinning around the center of myself. My left kidney wraps forward, right kidney spirals behind me, leaning equally into both hemispheres of the pelvis as you get taller. Then come back around to the center, bring your left hand out to the left, right hand on the right side of your torso somewhere. Use the touch of your hand to orient the sensation of your breath into the right side of your body. You can stay here if you like. Spin your right arm up. The elongation of the arm just creates a little more tension in the fascial matrix on the right side of your body. So maybe a little more sensation. And then gently coming up and we'll find hands and knees. You can move your props temporarily out to the side and find your way to hands and knees. Once you're on hands and knees, let's do a few gentle hip circles clockwise to start. Counterclockwise circles. And come to the center, do a little curl, tuck your chin, look behind you, spread your shoulder blades, uncurl, arch your spine, look forward, widen your eyes. One more time, curl vertebrae by vertebrae all the way through. Uncurl vertebrae by vertebrae, encouraging movement in the sticky parts of yourself. Come to the center, tuck your toes under, lift up downward dog. Downward dog, as you're ready, walk your feet forward towards your hands. Inhale and exhale to fold into uttanasana.

First forward fold of the day, sometimes I offer or like to take elbows on my knees or I dangle my arms. It really depends how the body is feeling. But bend your knees enough that you can start to feel the sensation of contact between your thighs and your belly and breathe that contact. So anytime we have contact, we have a boundary. And if we reflect into the boundaries that we have in our life, boundaries also orient us to space. So use the boundary of your belly and your thighs touching to orient you to the space and the dimension of each hip socket. Breathe. From your standing forward fold, nuzzle your feet into the ground, lean from your pelvis to your feet. You might bend your knees a little bit more to inhale, come all the way up. Lengthen up through your arms, exhale to release. We're going to do a little standing forward fold play to start to get into the lateral line. So I'm actually going to turn my right foot out. My right foot points out, my left foot points forward. I'm going to bring right hand to the right inner thigh, left hand to the left thigh. So I'm just going to show you there. And then you can fold a little bit. You might bend your knees, move your belly towards your thighs and then come forward. Pause. The tendency here is to get a little bit stuck in the back of ourselves. So see if you can bend your knees enough to move the eyes of your heart in the direction that you're going, which is in front of you. So you stay spacious in the front of the body and wide in the back of the body. Lean through your feet. Inhale, come all the way up, lengthen up through your arms. Exhale to release. And then we'll switch sides. Your right foot goes forward and your left foot turns out this time. Bend your knees enough that it feels comfortable in your pelvis. Hands to your knees. Pause. It's almost the sensation of slightly widening your left inner thigh into your outer thigh, coming forward any amount. If you need blocks under your hands, use blocks. Bend your knees to bring your belly closer to your thighs. And then just check out if you're way behind yourself, like literally in the back of your body, bend your knees a little bit more and see if you can feel the eyes of your heart start to open in the direction that you're going. This doesn't have to be a big mechanical movement. Just the sensation of the space on the inside of the chest isn't being hardened and closed down. Press through your feet. Inhale, come all the way up. Lengthen up through your arms. And exhale. Release. Beautiful. Now some balance work. So standing on your right foot, we're going to bring left hand to left knee. From here, press into your standing leg, grow a little taller. And then option is to bring right hand to your left knee and spin open. Maybe you open your arm behind. Stay a few breaths. Press into inner right heel and big toe and get a little taller. And some of you might like to hold the foot. And maybe you want to play with extending the leg. Maybe, maybe not. It doesn't have to go the whole way. When you're ready, release it, bring it around back into the center and down. Beautiful. Stand on your left leg, right hand to your right knee, thigh and belly close together. Get taller from the center of your right heel or left heel, sorry. And then from here, you can bring left hand, hook it around your right knee, spin open. Pause, get a little taller from your left big toe to your pelvic floor to the roof of your mouth. Maybe you play with holding your foot. Always think about getting taller and then extending the leg if it wants to extend. When you're ready, bring your arm back around to the front and release. Nice job, everyone. Standing pigeon now. So wiggle your hips out a little. Stand on your left foot, bring your right hand or right foot. We'll do right foot first. We did that last time. Left hand to your left knee. Once you have your left knee, pause and we're going to bring right hand and hold your left ankle. And just start to bring your left ankle a little bit across to the front of your right hip. So if you imagine pigeon belly down, which is often how pigeon is taught, this is essentially the same pose we've just flipped at 90 degrees. Now the tendency is that as we draw the leg up, we kind of slouch a bit. So lean into your standing foot, feel the lift through the pelvic floor, roof of your mouth. Beautiful. And then release and try the other side. Stand on your left foot, right hand to your right knee, left hand to your right ankle. If you get pushed into the back of your body, bend your standing leg, lean into the ground to stand tall.

You don't have to lift your ankle far. Some of you might start to move the ankle a little further up, no problem. But focus on staying tall and nice connection between your right inner thigh and the right side of your waist. Stay for a few moments and then release. Beautiful. Let's do a little lunge sequence to keep working into the outer hip. So you're going to stand on your left foot, step your right foot back into a high lunge. If you'd prefer to drop your knee, you can drop your knee to keep it a little bit lighter. You don't have to try so hard. Inhale your right arm up and behind you. And then you're just going to spin your right arm around and tap your right elbow on your left knee and then release that and do it two more times. Open the arm, tap, elbow to knee. Last time. Open it, wrap it around, tap it and keep it there. Make a fist with your right hand, stack your left hand on the top of your right fist and spin. Beautiful. Widen your right hip to the right and your left hip to the left to stay centered between the two hemispheres of your body. And then when you're ready, you can release your hands down, step forward, inhale and exhale to fold, lean down to come up.

Exhale, release. Other side. Stand on your right foot, step your left foot back, lunge, drop to your knee if you prefer. Open your right arm behind you, wrap it around, little balance you to spin around here. That's kind of why I like this entry. Open your arm behind, spin it around. Last time, open it behind you, spin it around. Make a fist with your left hand, stack your right palm on top of your left fist, spin around the center of your circumstances. Center by widening your hips, so move your left hip to the left, your right hip to the right. Release, bring your fingertips down, step forward, inhale and exhale to fold. As you're ready, lightly step, walk or hop back downward dog. Pause in your downward facing dog, orient the touch of your body on the ground, the touch of your breath on your body. From downward facing dog, as you're ready, come forward to plank pose, hands or knees, stay for a little, lean through your hands, lean through your feet. Feel the contact of your body with the ground, the touch of your breath on your body. And then lower either from knees or toes, lower slowly all the way to your belly. Once you come down to your belly, we're going to find a block. And this next pose is a really nice, sweet inner thigh release. And it's a nice balance to all the pigeon work in this practice. So I'm going to bring the block out to the left side of my body and how high it goes up is just dependent on your own hips. And then I'm just going to lift and bring my left knee on to the block. Once I'm there, if I feel crunchy or like my hip is biting me, then you want the block to be further behind you. And from that place, I'm just going to look back towards the front of my mat, press into my elbows and just move my right hip a tiny bit to the right.

So my belly button points towards the ground. Beautiful. And then a little active release here, you just press your left knee down and you can feel the inner thigh engage and then relax it. Press your left knee down, your foot will lift a little, engage. And then you're going to come a little, engage it and release it and do it one more time. Press down and then release it. Then just stay for a breath. Sometimes I'll lift up, I'll lean into my hands and lift a little higher. Sometimes I just stay on my elbows. You can choose. Beautiful. And then from here, we'll just come down, come off of the block, shift your block to the other side. Once your block is on the other side, bring your knee up, center. So initially my belly button's turning a little bit to the right. So I'm just going to lift my left hip and move it a bit to the left. And then I feel a little bit more centered. And then initially it's quite passive. So to make it a bit more of an active release, press your right knee down and then release it.

Press your knee down, release it, press your knee down, and release. And just notice what you notice. Beautiful. Stay for another breath. If you want to lift up into a higher cobra, feel free. And then you just take your time to come down. Take your block out. You can move your block a little bit out to the side for a moment. We'll come onto our hands under armpits and just come into an upward dog on your knees. Or if you like, tuck your toes, press out through your heels into a tuck-toed up dog. Roll over your knees, lift up into downward-facing dog. Occupy the space of the moment, the breath, one breath at a time. Give yourself permission to pause between breaths. And then when you're ready from here, you can just gently step your left knee forward towards your left wrist. And then I'm just going to bring my left heel across so it's right in front of my right hip. So it's just a way to get into pigeon. You can try that again if you like. So you bring your left knee forward. To start, my shin is just pointing back. Then I'm just going to move my heel across the body. Now, if this height is necessary, I sometimes will bring a blanket underneath. And then I have a bit of support. A bolster is also an option. Maybe I'll use the blanket for today. And then pause. And then I'm also going to have my block handy for a little option that we could use it for in a moment. So initially, I'm just going to center. So I'm going to press into my left hand and my right foot. And then I'm going to press into my right hand right hand and my left hip. So right hand, left hand and right foot, right hand and left hip, and just widen that X. So it's like you're drawing a line from your left hand to your right foot and a line from your right hand to your left hip. And just slightly widen so you feel some space around the middle of your body. And then if you like, play with a little cat cow curl. So curl your spine, tuck your chin, uncurl your spine arch, and then you can come down. If you like, I bring to bring my block under my sternum. So I have a little bit of support. My hands in front. Sometimes I'll just bring my hands and just rest my hands on my forehead. And the block under the sternum keeps a lot of nice length in the front of the body, even as you come into the fold.

A couple of breaths here. And I'll offer that if you want to linger here for the duration of our pigeon pose, you could do that. I'm going to share two variations. So the first variation I'm going to share is a little side body opening. So I'm going to lift up a little bit and just move my hands and my block a little bit to the right and then come back down. So it's like my hips stay quiet, but I'm just moving around the axis of the pelvis and creating a little bit of opening in the top of that left hip. It's like the jaw of the hip can breathe, belly and thigh breathing. And then the next option that can be really nice is to come back to center. I bring my block a little bit forward and I'm going to slide my right arm under and bring my head to the block and take a twist and just stay a little bit. If any of these are not comfortable, you can play with a different one that is comfortable. And then when you're ready, releasing back into the center to come up and to find our next shape, I'm going to lean my left hand way out to the left and wrap my right leg all the way around. And I'm going to turn to face you. And since I had the blanket there, it's quite nice because I can just keep sitting on the blanket. So I'm going to wrap looks kind of like this. I'm going to wrap this leg all the way around back into the double pigeon that we took earlier. So now I've got a block. We could return to this shape that we had earlier. Or if you like, you could bring your right ankle on top of your left thigh, which may work for some of your bodies. I'm going to bring my hands, right hand, right knee, left hand, left right foot, curl in, uncurl. Sitting on the blanket, I'm on a little bit of a downhill slope. And we'll just start to fold any amount over this double pigeon that you like. Stay for a few moments. Breathe space into space into space. And if ever it feels like there isn't any space, we can give ourselves permission to just back up a few steps and see where did we lose the space? Beautiful. Take your time slowly and gently come up. You can lean your hands way back behind you. Bring your feet to the ground. Just do a little windshield wiper side to side to flush that out. And then you can just come up. And then when you feel ready, you can make your way back into downward dog to enter on the other side. And I'll just briefly move my props out to the side. Come up, downward facing dog. This time I'm going to bring my right knee forward to my right wrist. And then I'm just going to move my foot across any amount. It doesn't have to come way forward to the hand. Bring your blanket back. Your bolster. And there you go. And if it's really not comfortable, you can always take figure four on the back. I know that pigeon is a bit of a tricky one for some people's knees. And then I land here. I'm just going to lean into my hands, cross reference. So press into my right hand and my left foot and press into my left hand and my right hip. And do it again, right hand and left foot, left hand and right hip. And just feel how that brings us into center, cross referencing through the middle, curl your spine, tuck your chin, uncurl arch, and then find your block under your sternum. Lengthening and a little pressure point of the cork block on the sternum feels quite nice. A nice way to bring some energy into the thoracic space.

Sensation. From here, you could have hands down. Again, you could put your elbows on the ground, even bring your thumbs into your third eye. And you might choose to stay here for the duration of the pigeon. Or similar to the other side, I'll guide us through a couple options. So option one will be to come a little bit to the left. You turn your belly, but keep your hips where they are. And then come down. Pause for a couple moments. See if you can keep your right hip on the right hemisphere of your body. And then take your time. If you want to take the twist, you come up, bring your block a little bit forward. Slide your left arm under, left side of your skull to the block, right hand on the top of your left fist. Spin around the center. And when you're ready, back into the center, come up. And if you lean your right hand way out to the right, bring weight onto your right hip, you can wrap your left leg around. And then we'll get set for our double pigeon second time around. So I'm going to sit on my blanket for a little downhill slope. Bring my left leg across. So option one is your left ankle just in front of your right kneecap on the ground. Option two on top of the block. And option three, stacking your shins. Something that I do sometimes think about here is if you press down into your pinky toes, you can shift your outer ankles towards your inner ankles. So you keep your ankles centered. Sometimes we have a tendency to kind of roll our ankles down. So keep a little bit of integration through the ankles and hands come to rest on your left foot and your left knee. Curl your spine, uncurl your spine, maybe look up. Come into the center and fold any amount that works for you. And same as last time, if you find this quality of breathing into space and all of a sudden there's no space to breathe into, you might curiously just back up a little bit and see where did I lose the space? And is there like a place I can breathe and linger where there's still space, breathable space, a little bit of wiggle room in the shape so that the nervous system isn't dropping into a fight or flight place. There's space to feel moved. You know if I'll stay two more breaths here. We'll take our time to come up. Same release as last time. You can move your block out of the way if you like. Bring your feet a little bit duck footed, roll them side to side. And it's a simple counter pose for all this pigeon work is baddha konasana. So I'm going to stay sitting on my blanket. If sitting in baddha konasana is tricky, you could just create a little more height or even sit on a bolster if you have one. So sometimes in this pose a little more height is helpful. Lean your feet together. You can hold your big toes. Option one might be simply sitting here and allowing the legs to open. Sometimes I'll hold the outer ankles and sometimes you like to fold a little. Just a few breaths countering all of the outer hip work that we've done through this practice. You might choose to linger a little longer.

I'm going to offer that we stay for one more full breath cycle. Beautiful. And then we're going to come up, gather your knees. And we're going to set up to on our back for one more baddha konasana, one more open leg position into our shavasana. So take your time to get onto your back. I'm going to stay on my blanket for a little bit of height under the pelvis. It's totally up to you. Come all the way down and pause hands on your belly. Okay, everyone. So take your time and let your legs come up. You can hold the inner knees or inner ankles. Feet can be apart. Just use the weight of your forearms to create a little space across the inner thighs. Slightly rock your pubic bone towards your tailbone to create a little length across the front of your body. Beautiful. And then when you feel satisfied here, you just simply release, lengthen your legs. The little blanket support the little blanket support can be nice for a few moments just to create some breathable space in the front of your hips. And then you can remove your blanket and lay your body down for a short rest. When you're ready, take a couple nice sips of air. Feel the temperature of the air in your throat. Blink your eyes. Wiggle your tongue. Draw your knees in. Give yourself a hug.

Make your own way up to seated. Just reminding ourselves that there doesn't have to be a rush. Take your time. Come all the way up to seated. Find a comfortable seat and this doesn't have to look like a yoga pose. It can be any seat that you're happy in to finish. Bring your palms together. Honor the intention of showing up for our practice and what that feels like. And then offer the benefits of our practice out into the world so that we spread the yoga, yoga mudra. And thank you so much, everyone. I hope you have a really wonderful day. Bye.


Jennifer E
1 person likes this.
I didn't realize how much I needed this class until I was in it! :) Loved it! Thank you so much, Sarah!
Rachel H
1 person likes this.
Beautiful practice Sarah, thank you . 
Jenny S
2 people like this.
This felt so sweet and it was another of your practices with new (for me) variations of poses and prop usage … sometimes I’m tempted to pause the video and take notes! I especially loved the block under the sternum in pigeon 🙌😍
Lina S
Very interesting class! I learn new variations!
Sarah Manwaring
Jenny S Yes, I love the block under the sternum as well. So happy we are meeting here and happy to play more very soon. with a smile. 
Sarah Manwaring
Lina S thank you! Happy you enjoyed the options and play with such a familiar shape. I hope to share moments again very soon. 
Sarah Manwaring
Jennifer E thank you so much. Sending a smile and hope we can share moments again together soon. 
Sarah Manwaring
Rachel H thank you! Have a wonderful day!
Sandra Židan
Wonderful practice, Sarah! Thanks! 🌹💗💖
David G-
1 person likes this.
That was fun! Loved all the cues, and I have integrated the final pose (hands to the ground) in most of my other practices. Beautiful symbolism. Thanks. 
1-10 of 16

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial