Sleeping Swan and Hip Anatomy Question for Bernie?

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Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:53 am

Sleeping Swan and Hip Anatomy Question for Bernie?

Post by kindheartyoga »

Hi Bernie -
I came across an article from a chiropractic yoga instructor that made me rethink teaching pigeon except as a backbend. Would you mind giving an opinion, please? I'm not one that likes "never or always" when it comes to yoga, but this is food for thought and makes some sense. ... e-anatomy/

The part I question is:
"As we fold into Sleeping Pigeon, we shut off the brakes of our hip (the muscles that are supposed to keep it safe), then we relax which gives a momentary feeling of “feel good stretching, whilst the weight of our torso allows the top of our thigh bone to slam into the cartilage of the hip socket. In the long term, this repeated slamming wears down the shock absorbing cartilage of the hip-joint resulting in nasty hip pain and even a dreaded trip to the hip surgeon."

The blog post is funny, for effect, but the information has me not wanting to teach or do a yin pigeon ever again! Or at least very infrequently, until I can do more research to find out if I'm hurting my students over time. :(

Thank you,
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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Poor Pigeon!

Post by Bernie »

Hi Kind Heart

The article you are citing is a bit dated (2016) but it has many things which really make me dismissive of this type of writing. First is the use of scare words like “slams,, “dump, and “destabilize, let alone all the negativity with statements like ",Sleeping Pigeon is dangerous...,, “we repeated slam the thigh against the rim of the hip socket, “O fuck, that is a lot of potentially damaged hips..., And yet, he says "Let me present facts as unbiased as possible,...his choice of words very much displays a huge bias. His writing is sensational and not the least bit scientific.

That's my second point: I found no science at all in this article. He describes some anatomy, but doesn't cite any studies, or even any compelling anecdotes.

Thirdly: this topic is one that I wrote about extensively years ago, so rather than re-write all that again, may I refer you to my earlier articles?
  • On using fear to teach: see this article. This article will also address William Broad's book and claims that yoga is destroying women's hips.
    On how to critically analyse articles (such as this one) see this article.
    On the specific fear that Pigeon will cause femoral acetabular impingement syndrome (FAIS), I have written about it in my book Your Body, Your Yoga (page 149.) There I make the case, citing statistics, that flexion very rarely causes the impingement that this guy is warning students against. In the very rare cases where it does, it is almost always due to the student having a very unique condition in their hip sockets: either a cam shaped neck to the femur-mostly in men, or an overly large labrum, called a pincher-mostly in women.
Finally, here is one last article specifically on Pigeon Pose! I hope this all helps.

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