pigeon pose breakdown

Lots of us really struggle with tight hips and hip flexors. There are many deep, powerful muscles with very long, hard-to-pronounce names located all around the hips that can make or break your comfort, posture or sport performance. If you're pulling a lemon face in full pigeon pose or find it to be totally ineffective, don't worry! There is hope for your hips to still find a deep and comfortable release in this pose.


pigeon pose breakdown : wholehearter
Pigeon Pose Breakdown
1.) Begin in Downward Facing Dog. I would recommend warming up with a few other basic poses or hip openers first, maybe this little video, just to make sure the muscles are beginning to warm and loosen.

2.) From Down Dog, use and inhale to reach the right leg up, stretching straight out through the heel in Three-Legged Dog. No worries as to how high the leg is, just keep the toes flexing toward the shin.*It is VERY important to keep this foot position for the duration of the pose. It helps to protect your knee joint.*

3.) Pull the knee in toward your hands, under your body. The right heel will head over toward your left hand and the right knee will be toward your right hand. Note the position of the thigh here. Not opening too wide, but the knee is pointing toward the front of your mat, maybe slightly to the right.

4.) From there, adjust the ankle to a comfortable angle. Loosey-goosies will make a right angle and keep the shin parallel to the front of the mat, while the rest of us will tuck the heel in as much as needed, maybe even all the way in.

pigeon pose breakdown : wholehearter
Viewed from above, either of these knee-bend angles are correct. Note the thigh position is the same.

5.) Adjust any tilt of the hips. This is one of the most tricky parts to grasp, but it can make a huge difference. If your hip is really rocking over toward the right, you're probably trying to come down more than you're body wants to. The solution? Prop your fist, a blanket or a block under that right hip. It's better to keep the hips straight than to allow yourself to sink over onto one side or the other.

6.) As you fold forward, don't just flop like a dead fish. Imagine rolling your left hip point toward the right heel. Then, lead with the chest, hinge gently forward from the hips.


Within reason, whatever yoga asana you dislike the most is typically the one you need the most. I'm not saying you should practice shoulder-stand if you have a neck injury, but I am saying that if you continue to baby tight muscle groups, your body will remain unbalanced. As always, enjoy your practice and keep yoga cozy!