Supine Pigeon Pose is a great beginner pose that provides a gentle stretch for the hips. Here’s how to do it…
Supine Pigeon Pose (Supta Kapotasana) – also known as Dead Pigeon, Figure Four, or Eye of the Needle Pose, is a reclined version of the popular hip opening pose. This is a wonderful pose to help stretch tight hips, prepare for King Pigeon pose, or loosen up and relax after a workout or yoga class.
Supine Pigeon has similar benefits to King Pigeon, including increased hip flexibility and improved range of mobility in the hip joints. It also provides a great stretch for the hip flexors, and helps prepare the body for more challenging seated yoga poses such as Lotus Pose.
This is generally a very safe pose for most people, but if you suffer from chronic knee pain or knee injuries, you should probably skip this one.
Here are basic instructions for performing Supine Pigeon Pose, from YogaJournal.com:
To begin, come onto your back with your knees bent and your thighs parallel and hip-distance apart. Next, cross your left ankle over your right thigh, making sure that your anklebone clears your thigh. Actively flex your front foot by pulling your toes back. When you do this, the center of your foot will line up with your kneecap rather than curving into a sickle shape, which can stress the ligaments of the ankle and the knee.
Maintaining this alignment, pull your right knee in toward your chest, thread your left arm through the triangle between your legs and clasp your hands around the back of your right leg. If you can hold in front of your shin without lifting your shoulders off the floor or rounding the upper back, do so; otherwise, keep your hands clasped around your hamstring or use a strap. The goal is to avoid creating tension in the neck and shoulders as you open the hips, so choose a position that keeps your upper body relaxed. As you draw your right leg in toward you (making sure to aim it toward your right shoulder and not the center of your chest), simultaneously press your left knee away from you. This combination of actions should provide ample sensation, but if you don’t feel much, try releasing your pubic bone down away from your navel toward the floor. This will bring a bit more curve into your lumbar and should deepen the hip stretch.
Also check out this video for a variation of the pose using a wall for support.