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How To Do Pigeon Pose In Yoga

Be Careful And Maintain Good Form

Be careful doing Pigeon Pose if youve had a knee injury or have other knee problems. If youre new to the pose, consult a certified yoga instructor or physical therapist before trying it, since you could end up hurting your knees.

Also, watch out for some common mistakes that can increase the risk of injury or reduce the effectiveness of the pose.

Avoid aligning your bent knee with your hip. You want to focus on keeping that knee on the outside of your hipline. Aim to keep it pointed toward the outside of your mat so you have a good base for getting a full stretch in your hip.

How To Do Pigeon Pose Plus Variations

Whenever someone mentions poses for hip flexibility, yoga minds immediately jump to Pigeon Pose, which is indeed a classic and excellent way to get deep into the muscles that connect the legs and pelvis, also known as the hips. These muscles can get very tight in the course of an adult life of sitting, driving, maybe walking a bit, and then sitting some more, so Pigeon also has a reputation for being a very intense posture. But no one has to fear the Pigeon because there are numerous variations and ways to use props that make a version of this hip opener possible for almost anyone.

First off, what most of us commonly call Pigeon is actually a preparation for the full posture known as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, meaning One-Legged King Pigeon Pose. In the full pose, the back leg is bent and both hands reach up and over the shoulders to grasp the back foot. The spine comes into deep extension to allow the back foot to move towards the crown of the head. The full expression requires not only open hips, but open shoulders, deep back-bending, and balance, making it quite an advanced posture.

Flying Pigeon Pose Step

  • Begin standing in Mountain Pose . Cross your right ankle just above your left knee, and actively flex your right foot so your toes are pointing back toward your knee.
  • As you exhale, bend your left knee and begin to send your hips back and down as you energetically push your bent right knee away from your body.
  • Slowly lean forward and release your hands down to the ground in front of you. Plant your palms shoulder-distance apart and ensure that your fingers are spread wide.
  • With the palms planted, come up onto the ball of your left foot and wrap the top of your right foot around your upper left arm. Take your right knee as high up your right arm as you can.
  • Begin to bend your elbows straight back , using your upper arms as a shelf for your right leg to perch on.
  • Send your gaze and your chest forward, and begin to experiment with grounding through the palms, lifting the left foot up off the ground and drawing the left heel in towards your body.
  • Keep drawing your elbows in and extend your left leg straight back behind you. Reach out vigorously through the ball of your left foot to create a strong line of energy from the lifted leg out through the crown of the head.
  • Remain in your expression of the pose for up to 5 breaths, then gently release the left foot back down to the ground. Repeat on the other side whenever you feel ready.
  • How To Work Pigeon Pose Into Your Routine

    Do it in the morning: Starting your day off with pigeon pose is a great way to release any tension left over from being asleep. How cool would it be to start your day open as opposed to letting stress build?

    Use it to close out your day: It’s also a great move to do before bed. Pigeon pose feels incredibly relaxing , so squeezing it in before you go to sleep in order to calm and soften your mind and muscles.

    + How To Do Pigeon Pose Yoga

    How to do Pigeon pose / Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

    12+ How To Do Pigeon Pose Yoga. My answer is, practice that pose but with. Shimmy right foot behind left hand and lower down to the floor so shin in parallel to top of mat.

    My answer is, practice that pose but with. The pigeon pose is one of the most gratifying yoga stretches when done correctly. Learn the pigeon pose as part of the foundations of yoga series!

    Inverted Pigeon Pose Aerial Titles In English And Sanskrit

    Many yoga poses have multiple titles because of differences in their Sanskrit to English title translationor a specific title becoming popular because of it’s common usage amongst yoga teachers and yoga practitioners. Below are common titles of Inverted Pigeon Pose Aerial:

    • Inverted Pigeon Pose Aerial
    • Inverted Kapotasana Aerial

    Muscular Tension Versus Skeletal Structure In Pigeon Pose

    There are many levels to how physical yoga poses influence and benefit our physical body. In this context, we will discuss the muscular level and which muscles restrict a full expression of the One-Legged Pigeon Pose.

    From here, we can understand how to effectively use this yoga pose to create more mobility in those areas of the body. It is always important to keep in mind that your mobility is not only determined by your muscles but also by your skeletal structure . 

      Maybe your skeletal structure will allow a full expression of the pose and maybe not. You will only find out through a regular, precise and conscious practice. 

    How To Do Arm Pigeon

    • Start on your stomach with your forehead on your palms
    • Outstretch one arm  in a t-position, palm down at shoulder height
    • Turn your head in the opposite direction so that your cheek is on the floor
    • Place the palm of your opposite hand on the floor by your chest. Use this hand to gently roll yourself on to your hip
    • Bring your knees towards your chest and open your chest towards the sky
    • For more intensity, open the top knee
    • You may choose to leave your palm on the floor for support. Alternatively, you can use the hand to press the knee open or wrap it around to your lower back.
    • Hold 3 minutes and switch to the other side

    Proper Form Variations And Common Mistakes

    Also Known As: Pigeon variation

    Targets: Hip opener, heart-opener, backbend

    Level: Advanced

    Pigeon Pose offers a range of variations allowing you to explore the movement at any level of your practice. From the Pigeon prep version you’ve probably done in yoga classes to the extreme backbend of One-Legged King Pigeon Pose , Mermaid Pose provides an in-between that can be a great opportunity to go deeper. Even if you’re not quite ready to move into Mermaid, start to experiment with engaging your legs and grabbing hold of your back foot.

    Keep in mind that this is an advanced pose that should only be practiced once you have mastered Pigeon Pose. Some regard it as more advanced than One-Legged King Pigeon Pose and say not to go on to Mermaid until you have mastered that pose as well. Mermaid requires very open hips and you will need to ensure you have done the preparatory poses to improve flexibility in that area. Otherwise, you can strain your hip flexors and may even injure your knees by placing stress on them.

    Inverted Pigeon Pose Aerial Contraindications

    Inverted Pigeon Pose Aerial is a advanced level yoga pose that is performed in standing position.Inverted Pigeon Pose Aerial additionally involves inversion, Twist, Stretch, Strength, Balance.Need Inverted Pigeon Pose Aerial contraindications? Please to request contraindications of Inverted Pigeon Pose Aerial and we will notify you as soon as your request has been completed.

    Is Pigeon Pose Bad For The Hips

    The pigeon pose can be bad for your hips if you do it with the wrong alignment or have a pre-existing injury. There are safer hip opener alternatives for those with joint sensitivities and injuries .The pigeon pose can over-stretch your ligaments in an unhealthy way and therefore destabilize your hips. It could cause you to tweak your lower back or sacrum and put a lot of unnecessary stress on your knees.If you experience issues with your joints or have had an injury or hip surgery, you should not do pigeon pose as you may experience:

    Increased pressure on the knee joint Undue force placed on the sacroiliac joint Erosion of the hip socket’s labrum as well as the cartilage at the top of the femur bone. Potential for injury from misalignment

    How To Do Pigeon Pose The Right Way

    How To Do Pigeon Pose The Right Way

    Pigeon is a yoga pose we all love to hate. Its dynamics are intense and liberating at the same time.

    Pigeon can aid in a laundry list of issues and symptoms, but for many, pigeon is a pose that we often just flop into with no real direction or understanding of how we should position our body and why.

    Pigeon is about unlocking our deepest fears, traumas and anxieties, a pose that releases the pressures put on our lower two chakras.

    These lower two chakras, the root and the sacral; house our relationships with ourselves and our relationship between you and me .

    Its our grounding potential: our needs for survival, intimacy, trust and stability reside here.

    Furthermore, it’s been my observation that we’re a society in dire need of grounding, releasing and developing trust. Moreover, it will be difficult to trust others if you don’t trust yourself.

    Having spent most of my life in recovery, I never really understood what that meant until I myself realized that I did not trust myself, honor myself and like or love myself in any shape or form.

    The anxiety I’d feel in pigeon was the same anxiety I was feeling in life, in those tight uncomfortable situations, and as I practiced and journeyed down the road of recovery I began to notice a huge parallel in the two experiences.

    Yogas Pigeon Poselets Talk About It

    How to do Flying Pigeon Pose

    Ah, Pigeon Pose. It seems to be included in about nine out of ten yoga classes. As a teacher, if I don’t cue it, Ill see students trying to squeeze it in . A student has even asked me why I didnt cue it. 

    Practicing Eka Pada Rajakapotasana , yields a significant stretch for various muscles and muscle groups, such as the glutes, iliopsoas, and other soft tissue surrounding the hip joint. Habitual sitting can cause these muscles to become tight. This can often lead to surrounding areas becoming cranky . 

    All of this can often only get worse when combined with quick bouts of high-intensity exercisessuch as sitting at work all day to then doing an hour at the gym or taking a long run. Perhaps this is why so many teachers teach Pigeon Pose, and why so many students want it . Students sense that their bodies need it, it feels good for them when they practice it, and teachers have some sense of both.

    How To Do Flying Pigeon Pose

    Julia LeeYoga Teacher and Writer

    Julia is a writer, yoga teacher, lover of all things, and dedicated student of life. View more

    I recently dug up a picture of myself doing Flying Pigeon pose back in 2010, and the difference between now and then is obvious. While I thought back then that I had good form and that I looked pretty impressive, there were so many ways that I could improve.

    Indeed, this pose can be challenging in all aspects of the word it demands a considerable amount of openness in the hips, a great degree of core and upper body strength, as well as a healthy dose of courage to overcome the fear of falling flat on your face!

    But the more effort that we invest in our practice, the more we are rewarded not only physically, but with the humbling knowledge that there are so many wonderful ways in which we have yet to grow.

    Pigeon Pose Prep & Practice


    Beginning on hands and knees or Downward Facing Dog . On an exhalation, Bring the right knee forward and right, toward the right edge of your mat behind the right wrist, angling right shin so that the right foot rest in front of the left knee.


    Right leg rotates externally from hip, outside of right shin and foot rest on mat. Foot relaxes in neutral or flexes . Mindfully lengthen and extend the left leg toward back of mat so that front of thigh, knee and shin rest onto the mat .


    Torso is upright, gaze forward. On an inhalation, lengthen through the front, back and side bodies, exhale rooting down through front leg and right sits bones, outside of right buttock comes to rest on the mat. Gaze back at left leg to see if leg and foot are extending directly from the hip and not swiveled or sickled to the left. Hips yearn toward square.


    Inhale and lengthen torso finding even length on both sides, as you exhale release the upper body toward the floor, bending the arms allowing elbows to be wide and hands to rest one on top of the other. Forehead comes to rest on the mat or on the back of the hands.


    Breathe into the back body, releasing through the hips and pelvis. Spend some time here, using the breath to create space.


    To come out of the pose, lengthen the arms, spread the fingers and press down through the knuckles. On an inhalation press down through hands to lift the torso and mindfully come back to hands and knees or downward dog to prepare for the other side.

    The Problem With Pigeon Pose

    Yet the pose may not actually be anatomically safe and smart yoga practice for some students, arguably, for many yoga students. Because of the weight of the torso over the front leg, it places a good amount of pressure on sacroiliac, hip, and knee joints. If these joints are structurally capable of reaching the amount of external rotation, abduction, and flexion that the pose requires, then that pressure may not be problematic. The reality is, however, that a significant part of the general population taking group yoga classes doesnt have that amount of FABER structurally accessible in these joints. 

    What happens then, for those practitioners? There can be acute injury , or gradual wear and tear on these joints that could lead to notable damage over time. For instance, Ginger Garner, MPT, ATC, PYT, shares how shes seen an increase in preventable back and pelvic injuries amongst yogis, whilst the emphasis on hip-opening in the yoga world only grows. 

    Correlation doesnt equal causation, of course, but that sort of thing canand perhaps shouldgive one pause. True, I do indeed teach many students who seem to crave the posture and even others who directly ask for it. Yet other students say that its uncomfortable or even painful for them. Thats their body asking for an alternative. 

    You Might: Have Tight Hip Flexor Muscles

    Pigeon and tight hip flexors have a tricky relationship. Yes, the move helps them loosen up. But when the front of your hips are tight, it’s hard to get into the pose in the first place.

    If your flexors limit your ability to lower your back hip all of the way to the floor, your lower back may compensate by arching, explains registered yoga teacher Cailin Shurson, DC.

    Over time, this position can worsen existing back pain or introduce new pain.

    Fix It

    Great pigeon pose modifications include placing a pillow, folded blanket or towel under your front hip so you can better relax. You can also play with the angle of your front leg.

    Your shin does not have to be parallel with the short side of the mat, says Sage Rountree, PhD, author of .

    Gillian Walker, a yoga teacher and founder of The Hot Yoga Dome, also recommends incorporating other yoga hip poses into your routine. Happy baby pose, butterfly pose, and runner’s lunge are all excellent hip-openers, she says.

    Step By Step On How To Do A King Pigeon Pose

  • Start in table top making sure your wrists are stacked underneath your shoulders and knees underneath hips

  • Send your right knee to your right wrist and direct your foot out to the left so that your shin and thigh make a backwards 7 shape. Flex your front foot to protect your knee. 

  • Slide your back leg behind you. Double check your back leg is straight and in line with your hip. Also check in with your hips and make sure they are in line with each other

  • Bring your right hand to the center to keep you stable 

  • Lift your left foot up so that your toes point up to the sky 

  • Reach your left hand behind you with your thumb pointing down, your pinky finger facing up and your palm facing you and grab around the outside of your lifted foot

  • Start lifting your elbow up towards the sky making sure you keep your glutes engaged at all times to protect your lower back 

  • If your left elbow is now facing upwards and you feel stable, you can start to reach your right hand back and try find your left elbow. 

  • If possible, start to walk your right hand down the opposite forearm aiming towards your foot. The full pose is when you are holding your back foot with both hands. 

  • Repeat on the other side

  • How To Perform Pigeon Pose

    Well walk through both the upright and forward-bend variations of kapotasana.

    • Get on all fours, with your hands shoulder-width and knees hip-width apart.
    • Bring your right knee forward, placing it on the floor behind your right wrist.
    • Slide your right ankle toward your left wrist, so your right shin crosses your mat at a comfortable angle.
    • Extend your left leg straight back and slowly lower your hips to the floor. The top of your left foot should be flat on the floor.
    • Keep your hips level, with your weight evenly distributed between them .
    • From here, you can either remain upright keeping your hands on the floor in front of you, your chest up, and your core engaged or you can fold forward, slowly walking your hands out in front of you and lowering your chest to the floor.
    • Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths, then switch sides and repeat.
    • To come out of the pose, tuck your left toes under, press into your hands, and slowly bring your right foot back to the starting position.

    Here Are The Muscular Target Areas For One

    Eka Pada Kapotasana is meant to target several muscle groups:

    1. The Deep Six Lateral RotatorsThe piriformis, gemellus superior, obturator externus, gemellus inferior, obturator internus, and the quadratus femoris.

    This is a muscle group that is tight in many of us and that has a great influence on our ability to externally rotate the femur in the hip joint when seated .

    When we practice Pigeon Pose, we come across the deep six lateral rotators in the front leg. If this muscle group is tight, you will struggle to bring your front buttock to the mat.

    2. The Hip FlexorsThe rectus femoris of the quadriceps muscle group and the iliacus and psoas.

    The hip flexors are a muscle group that gets short and tight due to activity and prolonged inactivity while the hip joint is flexed. So, if most of your day involves sitting, your hip flexors will probably be tight and over time, this will negatively affect your posture.

    The psoas is considered to be a store-house of emotional tension, and a chronically tightened psoas will signal your body that youre in danger. This can eventually result in exhausting your adrenal glands and weakening your immune system.

    Curious to learn more about the psoas? Read: The Psoas Defined, Explained, and Explored in 6 Yoga Poses

    When we practice the One-Legged Pigeon Pose, we come across restriction in the hip flexors in the extended back leg. If your hip flexors are tight, you will struggle to bring the front of your back thigh toward the mat.  

    Method 3 Of 3:advancing To One

    Top Pigeon Pose For Beginners

  • 1Start on all fours. To get into the one-legged king pigeon pose, you want to come to your mat in tabletop pose, with your knees directly under your hips and your wrists directly under your shoulders. Make sure your back is flat and your shoulder blades are tucked in alongside your spine.XResearch source
  • 2Loosen up your spine with cat/cow flow. The cat/cow flow is a staple of most any yoga practice, and is a good way to get your spine warmed up for the movement it will need to go into the deep backbend required for one-legged king pigeon pose.XResearch source
  • From tabletop position, drop your belly to the floor as you inhale, allowing your spine to curve inward. Left your gaze to create a smooth curve from your tailbone to the crown of your head. This is cow position.
  • As you exhale, engage your abdominals and push your navel towards your spine, arching your back upward. Lower your head so that your chin meets your chest. This is cat position.
  • Move back and forth between cat and cow 5 to 10 times, which a breath for each movement.
  • 3Slide your right leg forward. Just as you did with the pigeon pose prep, start one-legged king pigeon by moving your right leg so that your right foot is in between your hands. Then lower onto your hips so that your lower leg is resting on the mat, roughly parallel to your hips.XResearch source
  • It can help to roll your left hip a little toward your right heel. this will help keep your hips square and ensure your weight is distributed evenly.
  • How To Do Pigeon Pose In Yoga

    In nearly a decade of teaching yoga, Ive yet to encounter a student whos lukewarm on pigeon pose. Yoga students either love this hip opener or hate it.

    Pigeon pose, or kapotasana, feels amazing when you do it right the front leg externally rotates to stretch the hip, while the back leg affords the flexors a good stretch so its worth learning how to safely set it up. Pigeon pose is not a one-position-fits-all exercise, says Stephanie Saunders, executive director of fitness at OpenFit and a certified yoga instructor.

    Kapotasana is a variation on king pigeon pose , a one-legged backbend from ashtanga yogas fourth series . When it comes to pigeon pose, yoga is full of variations, like seated pigeon, reclined pigeon, and even flying pigeon pose.

    And why do we call it pigeon pose? When youre in the upright position of kapotasana, your chest is lifted just like a pigeons. Heres how to get there safely and effectively.


    Yoga Block Modifications For Pigeon Pose

    There are different locations you can place a yoga block in order it to assist you. If you do not have a yoga block you could always fold up a towel or find a very large book.

    One of the first locations to place the yoga block is under your hip. If you notice that your hip is externally rotating to the side causing you to become unbalanced and fall over, place the block under you hip for extra support.

    For those of you trying to bring your forehead to the ground and you cant quite make it, bring the ground closer to you. You do this by placing a yoga block in front of you and resting your head on the block instead.

    Please do not view yoga blocks as a form of cheating. This is not a race to see who can get to the yoga pose first. Each and every one of us have different bodies and will progress at different rates.

    The basic equation to always follow is alignment over depth. Pushing yourself to cause you pain and ultimately injure yourself should never be the goal.

    Check out our How to Use Yoga Blocks to Improve Your Practice post to learn various other ways to use blocks.


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