Pigeon Pose with a Bolster, sometimes called Supported Sleeping Swan, is a fantastic asana for relaxation and releasing tension from the hips. It stems from the traditional Pigeon, Half, or in Sankrit, Ardha Kapotāsana (AR-dhuh kah-poh-TAH-sah-nah). The traditional version of this asana can be practiced while holding yourself up, as depicted in the pictures and video below, or by bending forward for a deeper stretch.
Either version that is practiced is a great beginner pose for opening the hips. By practicing the Restorative Yoga variation of this asana, as described in your textbook “RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR LIFE”, you provide additional support for your students which helps with proper alignment and form. For a visual demonstration of the description provided in your textbook, see below.
To see the additional modification can be utilized in this asana, and the benefits for this asana, see below.
• Students with tight thighs or hips, have trouble getting their hips to the floor, or need to develop flexibility, can place a folded blanket under the hip that is at a higher, to level the hips. Alternatively, students can also lessen the stretch by keeping the heel of the front leg closer to the hips.
• Students with ankle or knee pain can place a folded blanket under the back legs knee and/or ankle for support. Alternatively, students with ankle pain can roll their toes of the back foot under to rest on the balls of the foot, instead of resting on the top of the foot.
• Stretches and strengthens the chest, shoulders, back, spine, abdominal muscles, hips, groin, inner thighs, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, piriformis, calf muscles, knees, and ankles. By strengthening these areas, posture and alignment can improve, your legs will be energized, and it can help relieve backaches, lower back tightness, and neck strain. This can also be therapeutic for students with osteoporosis.
• Lengthens the spine and increases flexibility, while also being a great chest, shoulder, hip, hip flexor, thigh, and groin opener.
• Helps to prevent arterial blockages and cardiac arrest, fluctuating blood pressure, mild depression, and hypertension by expanding the chest and stimulating the respiratory system, which also increases lung capacity and is calming for the brain. Opening and expanding the chest also helps improve function of the thyroid and parathyroid glands and is therapeutic for students with asthma or sinusitis.
• Relieves anxiety, fear, migraines / stress related headaches, insomnia / nervous exhaustion, fatigue, and reduces stress by loosening the muscles, increasing circulation, calming the nervous system and concentrating to hold the pose. This also energizes the brain and mind by bringing blood to the brain.
• Increases blood flow, which stimulates the reproductive, nervous, digestive, and endocrine system. Massages and strengthens the internal organs like the pancreas and the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands. It also improves digestion and helps relieve menopausal discomfort and menstrual discomfort.
As you can see, there are many benefits to this asana, in any of the variations discussed. Keep in mind though that students should stretch before practicing this asana as the hips tend to hold a lot of tension and stress. A good warm-up before practicing is highly recommended. Also, it should be noted that students with hip, knee, or ankle injuries, lower back pain or injury, sacroiliac issues, or have painfully tight hips should use caution and seek guidance when practicing this asana. If the pain is severe, they should avoid this pose.
With that said, lets finish up our discussion on this asana with the a simple break down of the affected chakras and how the doshic balance is affect.
Chakra Two: Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Vata This dosha is decreased in this asana.
Pitta This dosha is increased in this asana.
Kapha This dosha is increased in this asana.