Note: This post is not intended as instruction on how to practice these poses. It is me taking joy in yoga-nerdiness. The descriptions have been left intentionally sparse. If you’d like to practice these poses, visit your nearest Forrest Yoga teacher.

 

When people ask me questions about pigeon, I tend to answer with something like, “That depends,” or “Which pigeon?”

Pigeon, or Kapotasana, means different things in different styles of yoga, and in Forrest Yoga alone, I’ve encountered 18 pigeons. 18!

In my mind, I group the Forrest Yoga pigeons into 3 families:

Straight Ahead PIGEONs

Twisty PIGEONs

Back-bendy PIGEONs

 

First, the Straight Ahead PIGEONs:

 

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PIGEON

Front shin at a diagonal or a right angle or anywhere in between. Back leg is straight. Fold over front leg.

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PIGEON with the Back Knee Up

Front shin at a diagonal or a right angle or anywhere in between. Back leg is straight with toes curled under and knee up.

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PIGEON with Heel to Butt

Front shin at a diagonal or a right angle or anywhere in between. Back knee bent. Hold ankle. Fold over front leg.

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Standing PIGEON

Front / top leg foot moves toward breastbone, foot flexed. Back / bottom leg straight.

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PIGEON on the Back

Same shape as standing pigeon, but practiced lying on the back.

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Flying PIGEON (on the wall)

Same shape as plain-old pigeon, but against the wall, standing on the hands. I like to pike my hips up, which is less stretch in the hips, but feels good in my back and shoulders. Mike likes to press hips toward the wall.

 

And now the Twisty PIGEONS:

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PIGEON Forward Bend Variation (Knee Safe)

Sit down on the front leg hip, foot flexed. Back leg is bent and can be splayed out. Fold across front shin.

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Twisting PIGEON Sternum Over Ankle

Sit down on the front leg hip. Front leg at a right angle, foot flexed. Back leg either straight or bent and splayed out. Move sternum over ankle.

Twisting PIGEON Toward Foot

Sit down on the front leg hip. Front leg at a right angle, foot flexed. Back leg either straight or bent and splayed out. Twist toward foot and hook elbow or armpit into the arch of the front foot. Make a fist with bottom hand, other hand on top.

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Twisting PIGEON Over Thigh

Front shin at a diagonal or a right angle or anywhere in between. Back leg is straight. Twist toward thigh and hook right elbow over left thigh, forearm on the floor. If possible, hook left elbow over left thigh.

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Sleepy PIGEON

Sit down on the front leg hip. Front leg at an obtuse angle. Back leg is either straight or bent and splayed out. Twist toward foot and snuggle shoulder and torso inside front leg. Hold on to the front foot with the top hand so your arm / wing is covering you.

 

And finally, the Back-Bendy PIGEONS:

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PIGEON Backbend with Hands on the Floor

I like front shin at a diagonal in all the back-bendy pigeons. Back leg straight. Hands on the floor by hips.

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PIGEON Backbend with Both Hands Grabbing Ankle

Back knee bent. Grab ankle with both hands, arms straight.

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PIGEON Backbend with a Strap

Back knee bent. Strap around back ankle. Hold strap with both hands, elbows bent.

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Queen PIGEON Phase 1

Hold front foot with same side hand (or strap) behind back. Opposite hand on floor. Back leg straight.

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Queen PIGEON Phase 2

Hold front foot with same side hand (or strap) behind back. Back knee bent, opposite hand grabs ankle.

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Queen PIGEON Phase 3

Hold front foot with same side hand (or strap) behind back. Back knee bent. Strap around back ankle. Hold strap with free hand, elbow bent.

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Tangled PIGEON

Hold front foot with same side hand (or strap) behind back. Back knee bent. Hold ankle.

 

Pigeon lovers, before you ask… No, I won’t teach all of these in one class, but I am developing a workshop series that may introduce them all. Stay tuned for Spring 2018!

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