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Pigeon Pose Breakdown (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

pigeon pose

Thank you for reading the pose breakdowns! If you missed the first few, check back in the blog to check out breakdowns of Downward Dog, Balancing Half Moon and Thread the Needle poses. I had another request a little while back for a pose breakdown of Pigeon Pose. Pigeon is a wonderful, though sometimes intense, pose. For some, it is a bit too intense, so check out the “Figure 4 Stretch” at the bottom of this post for a modification. Also note, Pigeon pose should be done after a proper warm up and typically seen near the middle to end of class, so it’s not a great pose to begin your practice; the hips should be opened up before attempting this one.


-Opens hip flexors, hip abductors, hip rotators and groin


-Prepares the body for seated positions (also helps keep our muscles from getting stiff and sore if we sit a lot during the day)


Pigeon pose is a pose that will look different on everyone, depending on your flexility. I typically like to come into the pose from downward dog (though I do typically give the option to come into it from all fours as well). Starting from either of these positions, let’s start with the right leg forward and the left leg back…so you would start by extending your right leg back behind you, and then bringing it forward so the shin comes down to the mat/floor.

pigeon front

The right knee should be out towards your right hand (at this point) and your right foot should be flexed. Your left leg extends straight behind you with the top of your foot down on the mat. Your right hips comes down TOWARDS the floor (there should be a little space between your hip and the floor). The more flexible you are, the more parallel your shin will be to the front of your mat, but don’t worry if it’s not (it’s not for most people, this is just a way to deepen as you get more comfortable with the pose) and your right foot can come in towards your left hip as you work on your flexibility. The hips should be pretty well in line with one another—you can get there by sitting up tall and centering yourself and squaring your hips forward when you first come into the pose. Once you do this, you may notice that it feels good to put a yoga block or a blanket under your raised hip to keep your hips squared to the floor (optional). (The picture to the left is beford you walk your hands forward).

Now that you’re here, start to walk your hands forward (if this is too intense, stay where you are or check out the figure 4 stretch as an alternate option). Your chest typically melts towards the floor. If it feels better, you can use a yoga block under your head as you rest down. Surrender to the pose. Hold here for a few breaths and then come back up and sink back into child’s pose. Rest here for a few breaths before coming to the other side. Remember there is no perfect pose and if this pose causes pain to always ease your way out of it.


figure 4 stretch

Another option if this pose is not for you (or as you build your flexibility) is a figure 4 stretch. Figure four stretch is done on your back (see picture); start out with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Bring your right ankle on top of your left thigh…this may be enough stretch so feel free to stay here or if you can keep your head and shoulders down on the ground, clasp your hands behind your left thigh and draw your knee in to your chest. Be sure to practice on both sides.

If you notice pain your knee, your hip or anywhere else, this pose might not be for you today. Always listen to and honor your body as you practice new poses. I hope you enjoyed the pose breakdown. If there’s a pose you would like to see broken down, please feel free to send me a message at


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