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During the last nine months while recovering from my hip injury, I have had to find and use MANY modifications for a lot of exercises and even my yoga poses. The most common modification I use is for pigeon pose. Throughout my own journey and teaching low intensity level classes, usually catering to seniors and limited functioning (disabled/injured) students, modifications are a must. Here are my three modifications for the oh, so necessary pigeon pose.
Modification 1: On the mat
This modification is closest to pigeon pose. Either starting on your hands and knees or coming from downward facing dog, bring forward one knee as far up as possible, stopping between your hands. Keep your foot in line with your knee. Stretch your back leg as far as it can go, then sink down towards your front foot. Hold and BREATHE!
Modification 2: Eye of the Needle (or Thread the Needle)
Eye of the needle is my favorite modification of Pigeon. Lay on your back, and bend your knees. Bring one ankle to the opposite knee, and allow your hip to fall open. Now take your hands, place one on each side of your supporting leg (if you placed your left ankle on your right knee, you will place your hands on each side of your right thigh), now gently begin to pull your legs toward your chest. When you find your spot where the stretch begins to feel a bit on the deep side, hold and flex your feet. Again, BREATHING is KEY!
Modification 3: Seated Pigeon Pose (Chair Modification)
In a chair, scoot your bottom to the edge of the seat. Just like eye of the needle, bring one ankle to the opposite knee, and allow your hip to fall open naturally. Place a hand on the foot of the leg you lifted and the other on the knee. Inhale and straighten the spine, then as you exhale, tilt forward from the hips with a straight back towards your legs. Hold and again, BREATHE!
Use these modifications at any time, especially if your hips feel a bit tighter than normal. Here’s to HAPPY HIPS!