Athletes have a love/hate relationship with pigeon pose. Most who hate it at first do so because it hits all the tight places in athletic hips. Once those release, folks learn to love it. But in its traditional orientation, facing downward, pigeon pose can be far too intense in an athletic body, causing more trouble than it solves. That’s where changing the pose’s orientation to gravity can be really useful. Practicing the leg action of pigeon (external rotation and abduction) from your back helps you target the stretch while holding your back in neutral alignment. It’s much safer for your knees, since—provided you move into it safely—it doesn’t transfer any tightness from the hip directly to the knee joint.