The pigeon pose is one of the well liked yoga poses that helps release tension points and improve the mobility and flexibility in the hip joints. This pose requires particularly high mobility in the hip joint. Limited and improper rotation in practice can cause severe damage to the knee joint.
Anatomy to perform pigeon pose
Start on tabletop position and step one leg forward with the knee bend in between your hands. The front knee is bent in the sagittal plane. Take the foot away from the thigh to open the angle while keeping the hips square (pelvis neutral). it creates rotation In the hip and knee joints.
The back leg is straight and the foot is in plantar flexion (untuck toes). Keeping the pelvis in the centre and neutral.
The hands are placed on the floor to the sides of the knee. Maintain in this position and Inhale while the chest opens forward and upward, lifting the sternum, depressing your scapula. During elevation and thoracic extension, the back erector spinae muscle contracts and the iliopsoas muscles of the back legs are stretched.
Exhale and descend slightly with the pelvis in the centre and neutral without slumping to one side.
After a few breaths, bring the hands forward on the floor with palms facing down and rest your forehead between the hands. This movement integrates external rotation in the hip joint and flexion of hip. Muscles such as gluteus medius, piriformis, gluteus minimums, gluteus maximus are stretched and lengthened during this motion.
Students should feel the stretch only at the hip joint. One should get out from the pose immediately if there is any strain at the knee joint. Pressing the legs while applying force into the position is one of the most dangerous things in the pigeon pose and can lead to severe injury in the supporting ligaments of the knee joints. Never force or pressure a students to perform or stay in this position if they feel ache or pain in the knee joint.
In case of knee pain in the pigeon pose. One can try to reduce the angle between the knee and thigh to avoid or reduce rotation. Alternatively one can also increase the flexibility and mobility of the hip joint and hip rotator flexibility. Use a block or a blanket to elevate one side of the pelvis to maintain the pelvis neutral.