[Pose Of the Week] Downward Facing Pigeon Pose (Beginner)

Enjoy an amazing & relaxing hip-opening stretch in Downward Facing Pigeon Pose…

Downward Facing Pigeon Pose (Adho Mukha Kapostana) is a beginner-to-intermediate level yoga pose that provides an awesome stretch for the hips. (This is actually our favorite hip-opening stretch!) It is accessible for most people, and is great at increasing flexibility in the hips and relieving related lower back pain. It also stretches the quadriceps and glute muscles, as well as those often-overlooked muscles around the knees, and helps prepare the body for more challenging poses.

This pose is also thought to calm and open the mind and stimulate the Sacral Chakra, which is associated with intimacy, enjoyment, and creation.

There are several ways you can enter this pose. If you have trouble with Downward Facing Dog as described below, you can also start in Child’s Pose, then extend one leg behind you and move into the pose this way.

It’s best to warm up your knees with a few other knee stretches before moving into this pose. If you’re not quite ready for the full pose, stick with regular Pigeon Pose for now until you gain the flexibility needed to come all the way down to the floor.

Those with knee injuries or chronic knee issues should skip this one.

How to Do Downward Facing Pigeon Pose:

  1. Begin in Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Keeping your right foot firmly planted, lift your left foot off the ground and into the air behind you. Open up your left knee, then straighten out the left leg behind you.
  2. Lean forward, shifting most of your weight toward your hands, and begin to draw your knee underneath your body as you bend your leg. Do this a couple of times, extending your leg back behind you each time, until you can comfortably bring your knee as close to your hands as possible.
  3. Place your bent left knee between your hands, the outside of the right lower leg pressed on the floor. Be sure that your leg is not bent in half under your body so that your foot is trapped underneath you; instead, your inner left thigh should be opened up with your left foot sticking out of the right side of your body, resting on its outside ankle. Your toes should be facing away from your torso. Examine the placement of your hands. Arms should be straight and roughly shoulder-width apart, palms down and fingers spread out on the floor.
  4. Extend strongly through your right leg, feeling the stretch run in a straight line through to your big toe. Begin to walk your hands forward, holding the position when you feel the stretch in the upper thigh of your bent leg. If you’re comfortable, continue to lower yourself until you are resting on your elbows and forearms, palms pressed together with fingers pointing directly in front of you. If this position isn’t bringing much discomfort either, continue into the full pose by stretching out your arms straight in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Spread your fingers on the floor, palms down, and touch your forehead to the floor if possible.
  5. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds, taking controlled breaths. To come out, bring your hands back toward your body, pushing on your palms to lift the weight off of your leg, then unfold the bent leg and come back to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on the other side.
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