How to Do Pigeon Pose in Yoga (Guide to Kapotasana)

Pigeon pose offers a deep and intense backbend that, as a result, should only be practiced by those who have great flexibility in the spine and feel very comfortable in camel pose.

Once you’ve achieved pigeon pose, you’ll benefit from a beautiful mind-body-breath connection!

“Pigeon pose offers a variety of benefits to the student whose body is ready for it,” says Yoga Answered contributor Keira Shepherd. “Make sure that you’ve warmed up your spine with a variety of backbends before attempting this pose.”

Pigeon Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Kapotasana
Pose Type: Yoga Backbend Poses
Difficulty Level: Advanced pose
Targets: Back, core, glutes, hamstrings, quads, chest, hips, neck, psoas, pelvis, spine
Benefits: This pose is a wonderful hip opener that increases mobility in the entire spine. The stretching of the diaphragm muscles can also improve breathing.
Preparatory Poses: Bow pose, camel pose

How to Do Pigeon Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Kneel on your mat with your hips lifted.
  2. Inhale to windmill your right arm overhead and down to grasp your right heel.
  3. Allow the left arm to lift towards the sky.
  4. Slowly bring your left arm down to reach for your left heel.
  5. Spend a few breaths here allowing your spine to settle into the stretch.
  6. Bring your hands to the mat on either side of your feet.
  7. Bring more weight into your left hand as you walk your right hand towards your right ankle, letting your head come closer to the mat.
  8. Walk your left hand towards your left ankle.
  9. Grasp your ankles as you bring your elbows to the ground.
  10. Release your neck and allow your head to rest on the floor, your feet, or a block.
  11. To release pigeon pose, simply reverse the movement.

Beginner’s Tip

Pay attention to your body and ensure that you feel stable and grounded throughout your transition into this pose.

Face discomfort by bringing your attention to your breath, but back off if you feel any pain. This is not a pose to practice before your body is ready for it!

Contraindications

  • Avoid this pose if you hand injury in the shoulders, spine, knees, or core.
  • Pigeon pose should not be practiced by pregnant women under any circumstances.
  • Avoid this pose if you experience migraines.

Variation

Camel pose is a great stepping stone to pigeon pose and can be practiced in a variety of different ways to suit your body.

Kneel on your mat with your hips lifted and gently windmill one arm at a time overhead and behind you to grasp your ankles.

Curl the toes under to bring your heels a bit closer to your hands. You can also place a block on either side of your feet as a place to rest your hands.

If you’re new to camel pose, start by bringing one hand to rest on a block next to your foot while the other remains reaching up to the sky. To move out of camel pose, place your hands onto your lower back to support yourself in sitting up before bringing your head back to the center.

Yogaanswered.com is reader-supported. Buying through links on our site may earn us an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.