“What do you mean you don’t like pigeon pose??” I asked my class, horrified. Not too long into my teaching career, I learned this rather object lesson – not everyone loves the poses you love. In fact, not everyone loves the poses you think everyone loves (and, I suspect, there are no poses that everyone loves. I don’t love child’s pose. There, I said it.)
I remember when I first started teacher training, my mother said, “Just do pigeon pose a lot and everyone will love you…” Phew – that was easy. But here I was, facing mutiny from my class if I didn’t come up with some alternatives fast. I did some research and came up with a few ideas, and I think my students no longer want to mutiny – at least not for pigeon-related reasons.
1. Firelog pose (or ankles-to-knees, double-pigeon…etc…)
This is one of those poses that everyone calls different things. When I learned it, it was “ankles-to-knees”, which is great because it describes what you are doing in the pose. You want to stack your ankles on top of your knees with one leg on top of the other. Depending on how open your hips are, your knee on your top leg might be very far away from the ankle of your bottom leg – if that’s the case, find a blanket or pillow to fill in the space. You can see in the photo below that I have a little bit of space, but it wasn’t bothering me so I didn’t prop it.
Sitting upright might be sensational enough for you, but if you are feeling up to it, you can fold forward, hooking your top foot around your elbow for a little bit of leverage.
So let’s mention one of the other names of this pose…”double pigeon”. Ahhhhhh! Run! Ahem. But, this is also a good descriptor for this pose because you are doing the same work in the legs as in pigeon pose, but with both legs at the same time. I find that students have a lot more control over how deep the pose is in this version, because you aren’t bearing weight in your legs the way you do in pigeon. Especially for those of us who are larger, the added weight might force the stretch somewhere we don’t want to go.
2. Bharavadrasana variation/half pigeon pose
This pose is similar to pigeon, though the stretch hits the hip in a slightly different place. From a seated crossed-legged position, swing one leg behind you with the knee bent and then move your front leg forward a few inches, flexing the foot strongly. Try to have your weight even between both hips and then fold forward.
Bonus: It’s pretty easy to get into pigeon pose from here. Place your hands down in front of you, bring more weight into your front leg and then straighten out your back leg. Make sure your back foot is point straight back behind you and try to keep your weight even on your hips.
What poses do you love that seem unpopular? Is there a “popular” pose that you really can’t stand? Let me know in the comments!