Unveiling the Wonders of Pigeon Pose: A Guide to Ardha Kapotasana

By Align/WELL

June 18, 2024

yoga basics


  • Total Body Stretch and Strength: Pigeon Pose (Ardha Kapotasana) lengthens hip flexors and posterior muscles, improving flexibility and hip mobility, making it an excellent counterbalance to prolonged sitting.
  • Energetic Advantages: This pose calms the mind, generates energy for longevity, and alleviates nervous tension, promoting a sense of serenity and peace.
  • Alignment and Tips: Key alignment tips for maximizing benefits include proper leg positioning, squared hips, extended spine, and focused breathing into the hips.
  • Modifications for Accessibility: Pigeon Pose can be adapted with supports like blankets or blocks, lifted variations, and the Thread the Needle modification, making it accessible for various flexibility and strength levels.
  • Advanced Variations: King Pigeon Pose, or Mermaid Pose, involves deeper backbending and hip opening, adding a challenging yet rewarding dimension to the practice.


Dive into the transformative world of Ardha Kapotasana, commonly known as Pigeon Pose. This guide explores its variations, physical and energetic benefits, and how to incorporate it into your yoga practice.

Understanding Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose has numerous variations. Some recognize the pose where you're laying down with your leg extended, while others are familiar with King Pigeon, where the leg is bent up behind you. Today, we'll break down these variations, explore their benefits, and understand why this pose holds a special place in many hearts.

The Joy of Pigeon Pose

While many yoga practitioners eagerly await Shavasana, there is a unique and profound joy in Pigeon Pose. When releasing into it, the body starts to melt, and the breath flows freely through the pose. It's a beautiful feeling of letting go, where built-up tension can be released with every exhale. Pigeon Pose can be incorporated into a routine at any time of the day—morning, evening, or even during a midday break. Because of the significant amount of time spent sitting in modern society, Pigeon Pose helps balance and heal our bodies.

The Legend Behind Pigeon Pose

The story behind Pigeon Pose is as fascinating as the pose itself. According to legend, Kapota was a highly accomplished yogi with unmatched power, vigor, strength, vitality, and agility. His extraordinary abilities earned him the title "son of Garuda," the mighty bird god. His beauty and virtue were widely admired, captivating Chiduraganda, the daughter of a celestial nymph. Even the sons of Shiva sought Kapota's wisdom due to his perfect intuitive knowledge. Legend has it that Kapota still visits the famous cave shrine of Armanath in Kashmir once a year.

Physical Benefits of Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose works several muscles and offers numerous physical benefits:

  • Hip Flexors: Lengthens these muscles, often tight from prolonged sitting.
  • Posterior Muscles: Improves flexibility by lengthening these muscles.
  • Hip and Femur: Increases the external range of motion in both the hip socket and the femur, contributing to overall hip mobility.

Key Alignment Tips for Pigeon Pose

To fully benefit from Pigeon Pose, it’s important to maintain proper alignment:

  1. Leg Positioning: Extend the back leg directly behind, ensuring it's in a neutral position and facing down toward the ground.
  2. Hips: Keep the hips squared off, pointing forward.
  3. Spine and Arms: Extend the arms out in front, maintaining a long spine as you fold over. The head should be the last part of the body to release down to the floor.
  4. Breath: Focus on breathing into the hips, visualizing the tendons, ligaments, and muscles softening with each exhale.

Modifications and Variations

Pigeon Pose can be adapted for different abilities and needs:

  • Support: Place a blanket or block under the hip for additional support.
  • Lifted Variation: Stay lifted with the upper body supported while the lower body remains in Pigeon Pose.
  • Forearm Variation: Lower onto the forearms while keeping the upper body supported.
  • Resting Variation: Cross the arms and rest the forehead on top of the hands.
  • Thread the Needle: Lie on the back, bend one knee with the foot on the ground, and cross the other leg over it in a figure four position. Thread the arms through and behind the back leg, and extend or bend the leg to target the stretch along the hamstring and hip.

King Pigeon Pose or Mermaid Pose

A more advanced variation is King Pigeon Pose, also known as Mermaid Pose. This version involves bending one leg up behind and reaching back with the arms to hold the foot, promoting deeper backbending and hip opening.

Energetic Benefits of Pigeon Pose

Beyond physical benefits, Pigeon Pose offers various energetic advantages:

  • Mental Calm: Helps calm the mind.
  • Longevity: Generates energy for longevity.
  • Nervous Tension Relief: Alleviates nervous tension, fostering a sense of serenity and peace.

Cautions and Considerations

When practicing Pigeon Pose, be mindful of the following:

  • Injuries: Use modifications or avoid the pose if there are knee or hip injuries.
  • Surgery: Be cautious if there has been hip surgery.

Embracing Pigeon Pose in Your Daily Routine

Pigeon Pose addresses physical strain from sitting and emotional tension. This pose encourages releasing anxiety, helping to think clearly and act purposefully—whether it’s turning off the stove in the kitchen or stepping away from a toxic situation.

Incorporate Pigeon Pose into your daily routine—morning, noon, and night. Breathe deeply, release fully, and discover the transformative power of this incredible pose. You'll come to love it as much as many practitioners do.


Pigeon Pose, or Ardha Kapotasana, offers a blend of physical and energetic benefits that make it a valuable addition to any yoga practice. By embracing the essence of Pigeon Pose, you're not just performing a yoga pose—you’re honoring a tradition of strength, serenity, and loyalty.

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