Yoga Pose: One-Legged King Pigeon

Happy Thursday! It’s supposed to be almost 67 degrees in Boston today and I could not be more excited! I’m planning on doing a 6 mile speed workout tonight and hopefully will get to wear some shorts!  Running this week has been kind of funny.  Tuesday morning it was a brisk 20 degrees out with a feels like temperature of 9 degrees.  It was cold.  Yesterday’s run was a little bit warmer with temperatures in the mid-30s.  I could tell even at 5:30am that it was going to be a warm day yesterday.  The world seemed to be waking up from the quiet, cold slumber of winter, the ducks were on the Charles River, there were more runners out and I saw the first sign of the rowers getting their boats and oars out for the spring season.  It definitely put a smile on my face. Tonight I’m hoping to run in shorts but for Saturday’s 18 miler temperatures will likely only be in the 30’s.  Crazy, right?

I wanted to talk about one of my most favorite yoga poses today, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or One-Legged King Pigeon pose.  Why do I love it so much?  It’s a hip opener and feels great on my tight hips after runs and can release a lot of tension.  Yes, our hips can carry a lot of tension, stress and emotion.  Especially for women.  Our hips can become tight and uncomfortable but this pose works to release all of this.  Some days this pose feels like heaven.  And with my recent tight hips thanks to marathon training you can bet I’m in this pose all the time.

King Pigeon Pose

You can get in to this pose in many ways but I’ll share my favorite…

  • Get into a comfortable down-dog pose.
  • Lift one of your legs toward the sky so you enter into down-dog split.
  • Bend the knee and open the hip.  Take a few deep breaths here.
  • Then in one motion square the hips, and bring the leg through so the outside of the foot is on the mat with the toes facing the wrist.
  • Slowly lower down.  Your front leg should be bent and as close to a 90 degree angle as possible or comfortable.
  • Check your back leg.  It should be straight and your toes should point directly backward.
  • Square your hips towards the front of your mat.
  • You should be able to comfortably sit up here with your knee bent in front of you and your back leg straight.
  • This pose may be enough for you if you have tight hips.  If that’s the case work to open the shoulders and chest.
  • To deepen the pose lower your upper body over your bent leg by coming to your forearms or relaxing all the way down.


  • Breathe deep and bring light and love into your tight hips.
  • To come out of the pose lift your torso so you are sitting comfortably again.
  • Lay your hands flat on the mat, roll your toes under your back foot and come back into down-dog split.
  • Bend you knee in down-dog split and open your hip.
  • Bring your leg back down and rest in down-dog for a moment.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Pigeon pose stretches the thighs, groins and psoas, abdomen, chest and shoulders, and neck.  It can also help stimulate the abdominal organs.  It stretches and opens the shoulders and chest.  And can help to relieve impinged piriformis muscle and relieve sciatic pain.  This pose is great for many athletes.  It helps to relieve the stress that is transferred to our knees from tight hips and improves a range of motion.

This pose is not recommended for those who have a sacroiliac or back injury and ankle or knee injuries.  In the case of extremely tight hips this pose is not recommended either as you should start with other hip openers before moving on to this pose.

The pose can also be advanced in to King Pigeon pose with a one arm or two arm back bend for a deeper total body stretch.

One-Arm King Pigeon

For those looking to start advancing but can’t quite reach their foot the use of a strap can help.  Simply hook the strap over the foot and bring the end of the same shoulder as back leg and gently pull the strap to help bring the foot closer to the butt.

For the truly advanced a two arm back bend would be appropriate and can be advanced even further with the use of a twist.

King Pigeon with Twist

From there you can move on to the variation called pigeon crescent.

Pigeon Crescent

See lots of variations and options in this pose! I truly love this pose.  Sometimes I take it deep and other days I back off and am more gentle with the pose.  Either way I chose it helps to open my hips, release emotion and makes my body happy.  I work it into almost every yoga practice since I love it so much.  My advice for taking this pose to the more advanced variations is to move slowly to the next level and only go as far as you are comfortable.

I leave you with a YouTube Video that explains the pose, how to enter it and align yourself properly and how to use props to help you get comfortable and properly aligned.  Sometimes words and pictures just isn’t the same as a video!

Do you enjoy pigeon pose? Do you use any of the variations?  Do you include this into your practice?  As a runner have you tried pigeon pose to open your tight hips? 


20 thoughts on “Yoga Pose: One-Legged King Pigeon

  1. kashibarKashi says:

    Pigeon pose is ah-maz-ing. No lie! I love it, though it is hard for me to get into it.

    Have you ever tried Iyengar yoga with ropes or Aerial yoga? It is absolutely fantastic! I did it the other day, and they used the ropes for downward dog, basically the ropes dug into your hips, helping your hips stay up.

    I have been in hip nirvana for a total of 3 days and counting… 🙂


  2. JessSutera says:

    I ran this morning (around 8ish) and it was gorgeous out!! Should be even nicer by the time you run. ENJOY IT!!! PS pigeon (and all varieties) is what I need to really focus on for my tight hips!! Thank you for sharing these!


    • liverunloveyoga says:

      I hope so! I’ll be running around 6 so it will be dark but hopefully the warmth will still be in the air! It was a gorgeous morning for a run and part of me wished I had gotten up early and gone. Definitely give pigeon a try, it will most certainly help with those hips!


  3. runcupcake says:

    My hips are tight, and one of them is weakened due to being dislocated when I was born. I use this pose often to help alleviate the pain that comes with running!

    I can do a couple of these variations but not all of them!


  4. Christine @ Love, Life, Surf says:

    Best. Pose. Ever. My hips definitely carry a lot of physical and emotional tension and hip openers are my friend. I do regular pigeon and one-arm king pigeon. Don’t think that I’ve tried getting into crescent pigeon or king pigeon because the others have felt right for me. Other fav pose is happy baby.


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