31 May 2014 Kat Selvocki

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.


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