Stretch your spine, open your hips, and calm your mind with Deer Pose…
Deer Pose (Mrigiasana) is a beginner-level yoga pose that is often practiced in Yin Yoga classes. This pose offers a gentle stretch to the spine, hips, and thighs, offers a gentle twist and compression to the abdominal organs, and is thought to help the practitioner achieve a sense of mental stability and balance while building endurance. This is a great pose to do if you are experiencing tension and stiffness in the lower back or spine, or if you spend a lot of time sitting and have tight hips. It may also help to calm and balance the emotions, and it is also a good hip-opening pose to help prepare women for childbirth. This is a good pose for the Root Chakra.
Deer Pose is typically done as part of a Yin Yoga sequence, but it can also be used in any yoga practice as a less intense alternative to Pigeon Pose. Yin Yoga is known for long, deep stretches, so you will usually hold this pose for 2-3 minutes on each side.
To modify the pose, you may wish to sit on a cushion, or perform the pose facing forward rather than rotating the spine until you gain more flexibility. You can also bend forward over the extended front leg for a slightly different stretch.
If you suffer from chronic knee or hip injuries, you should skip this pose.
How to Do It:
- Facing the front of your mat and sitting comfortably, align your right shin roughly parallel to the top of the mat.
- Swing your left leg behind you, so that the left shin is roughly parallel to the long edge of the mat, and possibly off the left edge. The tendency here is for your hips and body weight to lean on the right thigh and hip, try to keep it back by pressing down into the left hip. This is an internal rotation, and you might feel this quite deep into the groin.
- Sit tall and still here for option 1.
- To take it a bit deeper, walk your hands back behind you and lean gently.
- If leaning backwards is painful, you may prefer to walk the hands forward and take option 3, which looks like a variation of resting pigeon. Again remember to press the left hip down and find a gentle tuck of the tailbone. Relax your chest and arms, they’re just propping you up slightly. You may want to use a blanket to support your right knee if it’s up too high.
- Hold for 1-3 minutes, then slowly switch to make your way into whichever variation you choose to take on the other side. (Watch this video for some more variations.)