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The Power of Pigeon Pose for Releasing Deep Emotions & Tension
Our retreat yoga instructor Widya has been teaching yoga for 15 years. Her practice is influenced by anusara and ashtanga and is passionate about the transformative power that can be found in yoga poses that are thousands of years old.
“Yoga brings more awareness to your body. When you stretch and release you feel good. When you hold yourself well you feel good. Yoga helps you to understand and be in tune with your body on a more subtle level”
The Pigeon Pose is a fantastic pose for opening your hip flexors and stretching out your glutes, which is typically an area where people hold a lot of unconscious tension and old emotions.
How do we store old emotions in the hips you ask? Think of what you do when you feel angry, your unconscious retain is to clench your jaw. This same action of clenching happens in your hip when we feel threatened or hear bad news, our natural response to stress is to bend forward and raise our knees up into a fetal position to protect our core. This action uses the hips and when these muscles have been clenched tightly they can shorten and the full tension never fully released so it not only traps muscular tension, but also emotional tension as well. This unconscious tension can be held from one traumatic event, or lots of little events where the stress of feelings like sadness, fear and worry are stored at the hips. So yoga instructors will refer to these emotions as being “stuck” or “trapped” in the body. No matter how you say it, stretching the hip muscles will cause a release and allow emotion to escape. This is one of the wonders of yoga as many people often inexplicably come to tears while in poses as they release these old emotions.
Because we hip flexors are such strong muscles, when we first approach hip openers like ‘pigeon pose’ we can find this to be a challenging pose, but stick with it and it transforms into a very calming asana as you let go of stored stress.
Also if you would like to improve the depth of your back bends, this is a great pose to prepare for that because your hips are the governor of your back, so the more your hips are open the further you will be able to achieve a full release in back bends
- From downward facing dog, step both feet together and bring your right knee forward between your hands so your outer right leg is resting on the mat.
- If your hips are more open, inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat. If it begins open up toward the ceiling, draw your right foot back in toward your body.
- Stay here with your hands resting on your right leg or walk your hands out in front of you, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee.
- If you are feeling comfortable and would like to build on this pose here are some variations:
- Anjali Mudra – Bring you hands up together infront of your heart chakra and keep chest up and eyes gazing softly in front of you.
- Raise Arms – To deepen the stretch into the hips and back raise your arms upwards keeping shoulders down and neck and head reaching upwards for a slight back bend
- Reach slowly forward to move your torso to lie on the ground.making sure you only reach as far forward as comfortable without bending your back or raising you buttocks of the ground. This can mean that you are reaching forward with you body leaning forward with arms outstretched and palms on the floor.
- When in any position hold without straining or pain and breathe slowly into any areas of tightness and tension for at least five breaths.
- To exit the pose, place your hands on the mat in front of you, tuck your left toes and step your right foot back. Take a vinyasa, then step your left foot forward and repeat Pigeon on the left side.
Everyone can benefit from opening their hips- whether you are a runner, biker, surfer, a mom-to-be, or someone who sits at their desk all day – stretching out your hips can help prevent lower back pain, or knee or hamstring injuries.
Also because our hips store a lot of emotion and when you stretch it this releases any tensions that maybe blocking the area.
This is the joy that can be found in the yoga poses in that as you stretch and release this area, you are working on bringing rejuvenation and balance to the body, mind and spirit.
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