The Great Pigeon Pose Debate

When I started talking to skaters about this yoga for roller derby idea, I was overwhelmed by the number of positive responses I got. People told me about their fears about not being flexible enough. They mentioned that they used to practice, but yoga classes were too expensive on top of league dues and derby gear. And from people who already practiced yoga or taught it to their leagues, they winced every time they told me about watching skaters drop down into pigeon pose.

My response: ouch.

There’s a lot of debate in the yoga world about pigeon pose and whether or not it’s safe. Pigeon can feel awesome because it helps stretch the glutes. And you do want to give your booty a stretch after all that skating! However, it can also be risky for the knees if you’re not set up properly, and it can be challenging to keep your pelvis in a stable position.

Unless I’ve spent most of a class warming students up for pigeon, I usually teach this reclined variation. It doesn’t require the same openness at the front of the thighs, and it also helps stabilize the back of the pelvis. Last but not least, if you’ve got grumpy knees, you can much more easily protect them if you work the pose on your back.


  • Your knees, ankles, and pelvis already take a beating from derby. This pose will focus the stretch on your derby butt without risking injury to other joints.

What to watch for:

  • Keep head, shoulders, and back of the pelvis on the ground. You want to keep from rounding your spine as much as possible.
  • Flex the crossed foot! You want it to be active, as if you were standing on it. That will protect your ankle and knee.
  • Take a glance down at your pelvis to make sure you’re not hiking up one hip.

When to practice this pose:

  • As part of your warm-up stretches
  • Post-practice or after a bout
  • Anytime, really! This pose doesn’t require any warming up.


  • Rather than drawing the legs in toward the chest, keep one foot planted on the floor as you cross the other ankle over that thigh.


Roller Derby and Yoga

Kat Selvocki doing reverse warrior

I started practicing yoga regularly after I quit playing roller derby.

I was an athlete. I am an athlete. And I approached yoga the same way. (Hell, sometimes I still do.) Trying to do all of the poses, the “right” way, all of the time meant that I got hurt. Going as far as I could into every pose, every time, also meant that any parts of my body that were uneven stayed that way–hips, I’m looking at you and the effects of several years of holding the line and crossing right leg over left for countless hours.

I want something different for you.

Yoga can be a really amazing addition to your practice schedule. But if you’re dropping into pigeon pose all the time, or stretching your hamstrings and never your quads, or talking about back pain but not getting specific about where it is and why, yoga isn’t going to help. And the last thing you want is for yoga and stretching to be the thing that keeps you from playing a bout!

I want to teach you how to start correcting the imbalances in your body. To learn how to modify poses so that they make sense for you and not a contortionist. To talk to you about alignment so that you know how to move through poses safely. I want your practice to feel good, and to enhance your ability to move on the track.

That’s why I teach yoga.

Sure, it’s pretty rad to be able to show off how I can balance on my hands–and I can teach you to do cool yoga tricks, too! Mainly, though, I want you to feel great in your body on and off the track.

I’ve got a few upcoming series planned for the blog, which will include videos, tips for poses, and some short sequences. And if you’ve got questions, ask! You’re probably not the only one, and I want this to be a training resource for you, in addition to the coaching I’m already offering.

Whatever you want to call it–yoga for roller derby, roller derby yoga, yoga derby–it’s time to get on the mat.

Photo by Hannah D Photography.

Say hi!