Pigeon Pose - Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

How to Do Pigeon Pose
Pigeon Pose. Ian Hootan/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Type of pose: Hip opener, forward bend

Benefits: Stretches the thighs, groins, back, piriformis and psoas

There are three primary versions of pigeon pose,each building upon the one before. This is the first stage. The next is mermaid pose and the full pose is one legged king pigeon. Expect to spend some time getting comfortable in each pose before moving to the next step. 

There are a few different ways to approach this first version of pigeon.

One of the simplest is from downward facing dog, so we'll begin there. You can follow the same directions starting from a basic hands and knees position if you prefer. 

Instructions:

1. From downward facing dog, bring the right leg up into a down dog split.

2. Bend your right knee and bring that leg forward as if you were going to step into a lunge. Instead of placing your food down as you would for a lunge, bring your right knee to the floor on the outside of your right hand.  The right shin may angle back towards the left hip or be more parallel to the front of your mat, depending on your flexibility.

3. Release your left knee to your mat. The front of your left leg is as flat on the floor as possible. Take a look backwards and make sure that your left foot is not sickling inward. It should point straight back.

4. Square your hips towards the front of your mat.

5. Take padding (a folded blanket works well) under the right side of your butt as necessary to make the pose more comfortable.

Options from here:

6. Bring your torso down into a forward bend over your right leg.

7. Let the weight of your body rest on your right leg. Place your forehead on the floor.

8. Continue squaring your hips and breathing into any tightness.

9. Come back up, bringing your hands in line with your hips.

10. Bend your left knee and reach back for your left foot with your left hand.

11. Draw your foot towards your butt, stretching your left quad.

12. Square your shoulders to the front of the room.

13. Release your left foot, curl your left toes under and step back into a downward facing dog.

14. Repeat pose on the other side.

Beginners Tips:

1. Be sure to take adequate padding under the right side of the butt. If necessary, use several blankets or a block. It's important for your hips to be even and supported.

2. If the forward bend is difficult, use a block under your forearms and/or under your forehead. Try to create a support system of props that allows you to relax in the forward bend.

3. If pigeon just doesn't work for you, eye of the needle is a good substitute. 

Advanced Tips:

1. Start to bring your right shin more parallel with the front of the mat.

2. Move on to mermaid pose or the full version of the pigeon.

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