Pigeon Pose is a yoga asana (pose or position) that helps open your hips and ease lower back pain.

Though it can be a great way to increase flexibility and stretch your muscles, it’s important to perform the move correctly to prevent injury or strain.

This article tells you how to properly perform Pigeon Pose and explains its benefits.

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Pigeon Pose (formally known as Kapotasana in Sanskrit) is a popular yoga pose that stretches your hips and lower back.

There are many variations of Pigeon Pose, but the most common forms include:

  • Classic Pigeon Pose
  • Resting Pigeon Pose
  • King Pigeon Pose

Each variation presents different stretches and degrees of difficulty.

Since Pigeon Pose requires some flexibility, you should do a light warmup before practicing it. Generally, these poses work great to prepare you for Pigeon Pose:

After your warmup, you may want to start with Classic Pigeon Pose, followed by Resting Pigeon Pose, and eventually King Pigeon Pose. This sequence will gradually prepare your body for harder variations in order to prevent injury and help you perform the pose correctly.


The main variations of Pigeon Pose include Classic Pigeon Pose, Resting Pigeon Pose, and King Pigeon Pose. They’re commonly performed to stretch your hips and lower back.

Regularly practicing Pigeon Pose provides many benefits.

This pose focuses on opening your hips, which supports mobility and flexibility in that joint.

Pigeon Pose also stretches your hip flexors and lower back, which are commonly tight due to prolonged sitting. Stretching these muscles regularly may alleviate mild lower back or hip pain (1, 2, 3, 4).

This pose is also believed to support digestion through gentle stretching and movement of your lower abdomen. This may assist with peristalsis — the movement of digested food through the intestinal tract (5, 6).

Finally — according to Ayurvedic medicine — stress, sadness, and fear are stored in your hips. Regularly practicing the pose may help relieve internal stress or worry. Keep in mind, though, that scientific research to support this is lacking.


Pigeon Pose can help stretch muscles surrounding your hips and lower back, such as the hip flexors, which are commonly tight due to excess sitting. It may also support digestion and mental well-being.

Classic and Resting Pigeon Pose

  1. On a yoga mat, begin in Downward-Facing Dog Pose. To do this, start on all fours and place your hands in front of you on the mat (palms down). Press into your hands and feet, straighten your legs, and raise your hips up towards the sky. Your body will be in an upside-down V position.
  2. Next, raise your right leg off the ground and bring your right knee to the back of your right wrist. Then, rotate your right shin so that it’s parallel with the front of your mat.
  3. As you bring your right leg to the mat, keep your left leg straight as it reaches the ground.
  4. Bring your right knee outward so it’s farther to the right than your hips and ensure your right foot is dorsiflexed (flexed toward the shin). Gently lower your right buttocks towards the ground, but ensure you’re keeping your weight equally distributed between both hips. If this is too difficult, place a folded towel underneath your right buttocks.
  5. Place both hands under your shoulders and gently press into the palms of your hands to straighten and elongate your spine. Look straight forward and feel the stretch. At this point, you have achieved Classic Pigeon Pose.
  6. Next, take a deep breath and as you exhale, lower your torso over your right leg, and stretch your arms straight in front of you, with your elbows slightly bent. Place your forehead either on a yoga block or on your forearms crossed in front. If this is uncomfortable for you, simply reach forward as far as you’re comfortable.
  7. Gently bring your shoulders back away from your ears in a relaxed position.
  8. Hold this position for 5–10 slow, deep breaths.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

King Pigeon Pose:

  1. Follow steps 1–5 above to enter Classic Pigeon Pose.
  2. With your right leg bent and your left leg straight, bend your left knee to bring your left foot toward your back. Be sure to keep your toe plantar flexed (pointed).
  3. Next, lift your left arm toward the sky, slowly bend your elbow backward, and grab your left foot.
  4. You may slightly lift your chin and look upward, but avoid bending your neck backward.
  5. Hold this position for 5–10 slow, deep breaths.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

For most beginners, this move will be very difficult and may increase the risk of injury. Only try King Pigeon Pose as you gain flexibility and can easily perform Classic and Resting Pigeon Pose with ease.


It’s best to start with beginner variations, such as Classic and Resting Pigeon Pose, before advancing to more difficult versions like King Pigeon Pose. Starting too aggressively will increase your risk of injury.

Though Pigeon Pose is generally safe, you may increase your risk of injury if you perform the stretch too aggressively (going beyond your body’s abilities).

If you have chronic hip, knee, or lower back issues, it’s best to avoid Pigeon Pose altogether unless advised by a healthcare professional. People who are pregnant or have mild to moderate musculoskeletal injuries should speak with their doctor first.

Furthermore, there’s growing concern that Pigeon Pose can overstretch the gluteal tendons, which are tendons that attach to the outer hip bones. Over time, this can weaken the tendons and present as other hip-related issues (7).

Additionally, many people are unable to bring their shin parallel to the front of their yoga mat. Instead, they tuck their shin too closely toward their body. In time, this may lead to knee injury, due to excess pressure on the knees.

To overcome these risks, it’s best to place a folded towel underneath your right buttocks and thigh to improve the positioning of your hips and knees. Doing so will reduce pressure and risk of injury.

You can also work with a trained yoga instructor, who can provide suggestions or variations to the pose. Ultimately, if you’re experiencing any ongoing pain or discomfort with Pigeon Pose, it’s best to avoid it.


Though generally safe, Pigeon Pose — especially when performed incorrectly — may increase pressure on your hips, knees, and lower back. People who are pregnant or have chronic musculoskeletal injuries should talk with their doctor first.

Pigeon Pose is a great yoga pose to stretch your hips and lower back.

When performed correctly, it may increase flexibility of the hip flexors and lower back muscles while also supporting digestion. Some also believe it can alleviate mental stress or worry, since Ayurveda claims these emotions are stored in the hips.

However, Pigeon Pose may not be suitable for those who are pregnant or have chronic hip, knee, or back pain. Always speak with a healthcare professional before trying new exercises.

If you’re looking to add something new to your daily yoga routine, give Pigeon Pose a try.