When I first came to yoga, I used to dread hearing the yoga instructor (whom I was quite fond of!) start leading us into Pigeon Pose (known in Sanskrit as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana). The dread did not last long and invariably, something always would happen once I was in the pose. I started to feel wonderful…not just great….WONDERFUL. I mean this not just physically, but mentally. Having suffered the majority of my life with Major Depressive Disorder (depression), I was amazed at my mental clarity with this pose. Now I see my own students making “the face” when I tell them where we are going with our next pose. I tell them it’s okay….trust me on this one! The mental benefits far outweigh the awkwardness of getting into the pose when one is just learning.
Of course, I was sure it was the practice of yoga as a whole, which made me feel so amazing, but something about Pigeon soon had me doing the asana (pose) on my own, not just at the studio. I was addicted. Sometimes I was so busy, I had time for one pose in the morning to start my day, of course it was Pigeon! A beautiful pose, great for opening up hips, there is more to the posture than meets the eye.
According to those who have studied trauma, the hips are a place where many humans store emotions, including stress, fear, and anxiety. These are feeling the human body pushes down into the hips, causing them to be tight. This is much like how we clench our jaw in a stressful situation, or hold tension in our neck and back.
Not only do we as humans store our trauma in our hips, but this tends to be true mostly for women. Thinking about things women go through, such as giving birth, this should come as no surprise.
While the act of pushing negative emotions into the hips is not a conscious decision, it is primal, and we all tend to do it to some extent. I’ve heard several yogi’s refer to the hips as the “junk drawer to the body.”
Adding Pigeon in any of its variations to your yoga routine can help you release the pent up emotions held in your hips. For me, I would feel the benefit as soon as I was in the pose. For others, the relief may come later, such as during the drive home, for example.
It may take time to be able to get comfortable in the pose. In my own practice, it took several classes to become comfortable and do do the pose without the help of blocks.
Other poses to help open hips and process emotions:
- Reclining Twist: Supta Matsyendrasana
- Crescent Lunge: Anjaneyasana
- Garland Pose: (Malasana)
- Goddess Pose: (Utkata Konasana)
- Half Lotus: Padmasana
- Bound Angle: Ardha Padmasana
We now know Pigeon Pose is great for our mental health, but there are physical benefits as well. These include:
- Opens the hip
- Improves alignment
- Improves posture
- Lessens sciatica pain
- Relieves lower back pain
- Lengthens the hip flexor
- Helps with urinary disorder
I highly encourage you to add Pigeon pose into your regular practice so you can get the benefits of emotional release. It’s time to open up your “junk drawer” and add a pose to your yoga routine. You might just find yourself craving this pose!