Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Pigeon Pose, or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, is my favorite way to open tight hips. Stress can create tension in the whole body, and many people carry tension in their hips, especially me. 

This pose primarily targets the external rotators (in the bent leg) and flexors (of the straight leg) of the hips which tend to be tight when you sit all day, especially with one foot on the rheostat. Sitting keeps hips from the various movements they need to remain agile – flexion, extension, and rotation. 

Activities like running, cycling and even everyday walking require hip strength, but not flexibility. So incorporating regular hip opening yoga poses are a must if you don’t want to look like a granny when getting up from your chair. 

However, if you’re too tight, your knees, ankles, and lower back may not want to cooperate for a traditional Pigeon pose. So in addition to showing you how to do a traditional pigeon pose, I will offer a way to support the pose with yoga props.  

With regular practice using props for the pose, your hips will eventually feel less tense, leading to a more relaxed traditional Pigeon Pose. If you’ve tried with the props and the pose is still too difficult, let me know and I’ll offer you another pose!

Have patience. Don’t force anything. It’s about the journey not the destination. 

Traditional Pigeon Pose

  1. From Downward Facing Dog, bend your knee and bring that leg forward as if you were going to step into a lunge. Instead of placing your foot down as you would for a lunge, bring your knee to the floor behind your hand. The shin may angle back towards the opposite hip or be more parallel to the front of your mat, depending on your range of motion.
  2. Release the knee of your back leg to your mat. Uncurl your toes and keep your back leg flat on the floor. Take a look to make sure that your foot is pointing straight back.
  3. Square your hips towards the front of your mat. Your hips should be even, not one in front of the other.
  4. Lengthen through the crown of your head, and breathe as you settle into this pose.
  5. Stay for a few breaths then do the other side.
  6. To release the pose, curl the toes of your back leg under, lift the knee of the back leg off the ground, press into your hands as you step your front leg back into Downward Facing Dog.

Go Deeper

  1. If you feel stable, bring your torso down into a forward bend over your bent leg.
  2. Keep hips square and weight balanced equally on both sides as best you can. If this feels too intense, place a blanket or block or under the hip or back knee. Reach your forehead toward the floor.
  3. Continue squaring your hips and breathing into any tightness.
  4. To come back up, bring your hands in line with your hips and torso upright.
  5. To release the pose, curl the toes of your back leg under, lift the knee of the back leg off the ground, press into your hands as you step your front leg back into Downward Facing Dog.
  6. Repeat the pose on the other side.

Pigeon Pose Variations

Pigeon on a Perch

Place a yoga block beneath the hip of the bent leg to help square off the hips which will keep the lumbar spine better aligned and will not place any undue strain on the joints.

Place padding (a meditation pillow or folded yoga blanket work well) under the hip of your bent leg and settle into it  to make the pose more comfortable.

Let me see your Pigeon Pose or Variation by tagging me on Instagram @yogafordentist or posting in our private Facebook Group – Yoga for Dentists!

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Published by Yoga for Dentists

Dr. Josie Dovidio is a long-time dentist and certified yoga teacher who took a sabbatical from clinical dentistry to address health issues related to prolonged stress. She now helps dental professionals "undo" what dentistry does to the body, mind and soul through her Yoga for Dentists community on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube Channel and Podcast.

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