Active Pigeon: Impact & Aftermath

I’d like to share with you guys some really cool things that have emerged ever since my yoga community adopted Active Pigeon pose and began to shy away from Sleeping Pigeon.

Full Active Pigeon
It started here 4 months ago (wow right?!) when I first presented the case against Sleeping Pigeon pose inhibiting the deep stabilizers of the hip and causing potential long-term harm to the hip joint.  

So far I’ve only been amazed at the findings and the growth that has emerged in my yoga community as a result of removing the fold into “Sleeping Butt Pigeon” and encouraging people to stay more upright.

This is what I would like to share with you guys today because…

It couldn’t have happened with out YOU, my readers, my amateur yoga anatomists, my community, my sangha 🙂


You guys rock!

Now let’s take a look at some of the cool stuff we’ve done 🙂

The Half Pigeon Civil War

The best description of what happened initially to my yoga community came from my friend and coworker Aaron.  Given all that new info about 1/2 Pigeon the community instantly became split:  Yogis either vehemently folded, or swore to never fold again.

  • There were some people who came right out and said, “I hate that pose, I don’t know why we do it in every class, thank you for this information because it proves to me that I don’t need it.
  • Then there was the other camp:  “This is my favorite pose, and the only pose I really feel something in, why did you have to ruin it

In each and every class at the time of Half Pigeon, some people would fold, others would stay upright.  Welcome to the Half Pigeon Civil War of 2016.

As time progressed, fewer people continued to fold.  Now maybe 1 or 2 people will in a 15-20 person class.  In fact, currently at where I teach in Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa only a very small amount of people fold into Half Pigeon in any given class.  Even when the instructor gives the option to fold after staying upright.

Each instructor adapted a different way to cue and implement the pose.  Many actually have admitted that they no longer include the option to fold, because they no longer see a point to it.  Removal of the need to fold has opened up a whole new realm of sequencing, where better poses with true intention can be placed in the stead of Sleeping Pigeon.

Some examples of what I’ve seen from fellow Teachers:

  • I’ve seen people transition into Active Pigeon from a Seated Forward Fold rather than a Downward Dog.
  • I’ve seen it thrown into the beginning of class before/after Sun A’s to better student’s balance (it does engage all the stabilizers of the hip after all)
  • I’ve even seen variants of the pose begin to arise:  Exalted Active Pigeon,  Bound Active Pigeon,  Sphinx Pigeon, etc.  (some of these to be featured soon)

More and more, day by day, people are becoming more aware.  It’s not just in mindset either.  It’s because there has been serious growth and progress in a number of people’s practices.  Especially those who have been practicing for a while!


When you rock a deep backbend in class.

Community Growth

I’ll admit, when I first presented the case against Sleeping Butt Pigeon all I really had was a theory.  I didn’t have hard science showing muscle readings of the hip destabilization vs activation.  I had an understanding of biomechanics and a feeling.

Thankfully, it was the feeling that spoke volumes because when people tried Active Pigeon, especially the first few times they really began to understand their limits.

It taught us right away:

  • If our back began to spasm because our back muscles were inhibited
  • If our deep hip muscles were weak because of how difficult it was to stay upright and uplifted

The most important thing it taught us:  

What it felt like to have stable, actively engaged hip musculature, and the impact it carried for our balance and overall healthy movement of our bodies.

In the past 4 months of Active Pigeon, these are just a few of the observations me and my community have made:

  • Reduction/elimination of hip popping, sliding, and grinding 
  • Reduction/elimination of back pain in both the low back, mid back, and down into the thighs
  • Greater balance in standing postures on one or both legs
  • Ability to achieve deeper poses.  (Especially back bends like King Pigeon)
  • Deeper awareness in one’s own body about pain/discomfort in yoga

The most profound, especially in the men, is the ability to achieve deeper poses.  I’ve had a lot of dudes tell me that ever since they’ve been practicing Active Pigeon they can get into Wheel Pose or even King Pigeon!

The community as a whole also turned more introspective.  Exposing the potential danger of such a common pose opened up a whole Pandora’s box of yoga injuries questions:

  • Active vs Passive postures
  • Addressing discomfort rather than “push through it”
  • Forming personal customization rather than blindly following the instructor
  • Discussion focused around opinions of pose variations and intentions
  • Changes in Teacher Training Curriculum
    • Discussion of intention behind Folding vs Active
    • Removal of Assisting/Adjusting Sleeping Pigeon



It’s only been 4 months and the benefits that have emerged are crazy right!?

Who would have thought removing a common fold would have such a deep impact on an entire group of yogis!

Gratitude & Growth:

As you can see, as a community we have truly grown! 

Let this be a great example of the cross mingling of the modern science and yoga.  Where we can finally blend exercise science, anatomy, biomechanics, and other scientific constructs with the ancient philosophy, postures, and intentions of yoga.

With that, we do what we’ve always done since the dawn of life: grow and adapt.  We take in new information, apply it, see if it works over time, and if it does continue to grow from the new place that awareness has brought us.

Thank all of you!  To each and every person that this information has reached, I am grateful.  From the small amount of observations I’ve presented here, I think we can agree that we have all grown in some way.


You guys seriously are awesome!

May we continue to grow and be beautiful!

-Dr. YG


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