When you’re suffering from hip pain, you want to get rid of the pain—fast! Choose the version of Sleeping Pigeon pose that’s best for you, and feel your pain melt away.

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For years, I struggled with hip pain.

“Go do some Pigeon pose,” my massage therapist would say. I would nod and then proceed to completely forget her advice.

After all, how helpful could one yoga pose be?

It turns out just practicing this one yoga pose can be extremely helpful for anyone trying to practice some DIY hip pain relief.

And, the best part is there are different versions of Sleeping Pigeon pose to choose from, so you can always have an option that best suits your abilities.

This means that if you’re just starting out, are locked up in pain, or are super-inflexible; there’s a version of Sleeping Pigeon pose that’s best for you. Then, when your body starts to loosen up a bit or your pain decreases, there will be another version of this super-helpful pose waiting for you.

Related: If you’re searching for a comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself hip pain relief that will give you permanent results, check out my online course, Spinal Rejuvenation.

Here are a couple of different versions of Sleeping Pigeon pose. Read on to learn how to choose which one is best for you, how to make this pose easier, and how to make it harder.

You don’t have to wonder what you need to do to get rid of your pain. Download your free copy of The Secret to IMMEDIATE + LASTING Pain Relief (No Matter Which Muscle Hurts) and learn this simple pain-relieving activity.

A Little History on Sleeping Pigeon Pose

Sleeping Pigeon pose is called Eka Pada Rajakapotasana. This is its Sanskrit name and the original name for this yoga pose.

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is known as a hip-opening pose. Hip-opening poses are stretch and strengthen the muscles in the hips and low back.

For this reason, you always want to make sure you’re using the absolute best form and paying attention to how your body is feeling and moving.

To Have the Best Form…

In order to have the best form in Sleeping Pigeon pose, you need to avoid letting your body collapse to the floor. Although it’s going to be tempting to let yourself melt into the ground, you actually want to do just the opposite.

Think of lifting yourself away from the ground. Feel your muscles push away from the floor. Feel your belly lift toward your spine instead of drop onto your thigh.

When you keep your muscles working throughout Sleeping Pigeon pose, you’re going to:

  • avoid injury,
  • strengthen your weak muscles, and
  • stretch your tight muscles.

All of this is going to help you feel immediate relief, no matter which version of Sleeping Pigeon pose you choose to practice.

Why Choose Sleeping Pigeon Pose Prep?

This version of Sleeping Pigeon pose is perfect for anyone with:

  • extreme hip pain,
  • restricted hip mobility,
  • discomfort or dizziness when upside down, and/or
  • significant wrist pain.

It’s also a great option if you’re just starting to learn how your body moves or if you’re new to yoga.

How to Do Sleeping Pigeon Pose Prep

woman doing the yoga pose sleeping pigeon prep

Getting Set Up

  1. Use ujjayi breathing by inhaling and exhaling through your nose only.
  2. Begin on your back with your pelvis in neutral, knees bent, heels in line with your SITs bones. (Your SITs bones are those bones you can feel pressing into the ground when you sit cross-legged.)
  3. Take a moment to exhale and hug your abdominal muscles around your abdomen and low back. This will help support your hips and low back so you’ll get the optimal stretch.
  4. Lift your right leg and cross your right ankle just beneath your left knee on your thigh. Make sure the right ankle is off the left thigh. This way, the ankle bone doesn’t press into your thigh muscles (quadriceps).
  5. You have just made a “Figure 4” of sorts. When I was a personal trainer, that’s what we called this stretch, so you may know it by this name, too.
  6. If you feel a stretch, hang out here and breathe.
  7. Hold here for 5-10 breaths.
  8. When you are finished, keep muscular energy as you lower your leg and reverse sequence to do the other side. Be aware that the flexibility of your right side and your left side may differ dramatically.

Choosing What’s Best for Your Lower Body

If you don’t feel a stretch in this position, don’t worry. There are some subtle things you can do with your lower body to produce just the right amount of stretch.

  1. Lift your left foot straight off the ground. Your left knee should be angled at your left shoulder.
  2. Make sure your pelvis has not shifted, rocked, or tilted so you can bring your leg up. If it has, lower your foot to the ground and get your pelvis back in neutral. The next time you lift, only lift up part way and place your foot on a prop like a block. (Keeping a neutral pelvis is crucial.)
  3. If you want a little less intensity, place your left foot on a prop like a block or a fat book. For folks with good hip flexibility, you could also place your left foot on a wall. (Make sure your foot is in line with your knee.) Using the wall helps open your hips a little deeper in addition to providing support.
  4. If this feels like a good enough stretch, stay here.
  5. Hold here for 5-10 breaths.
  6. When you are finished, keep muscular energy as you lower and reverse sequence to do the other side. Be aware that the flexibility of your right side and your left side may differ dramatically.

Choosing What’s Best for Your Upper Body

If lifting your legs feels like a good enough stretch, don’t push yourself. There’s no rule that says you have to use your hands.

But, if you want to use your hands to intensify your stretch, here’s what you can do.

  1. You can lace your fingers behind your left thigh so your arms are helping pull your legs toward you. Or, you can place your left hand on the heel of your right foot and your right hand on your right knee. Press your hands toward each other. This should help you get a deeper stretch into your hip.
  2. Also, you can lift your head and upper body to further increase your stretch.
  3. Hold here for 5-10 breaths.
  4. When you are finished, keep muscular energy as you lower and reverse sequence to do the other side. Be aware that the flexibility of your right side and your left side may differ dramatically.

Why Choose Sleeping Pigeon Pose?

The full version of Sleeping Pigeon pose would be a good choice for you if you:

  • have been practicing yoga or Pilates for a while,
  • have already tried this version (and didn’t hurt yourself), and/or
  • you feel like your hip pain is pretty moderate.

How to Do Sleeping Pigeon Pose

picture of sleeping pigeon pose
  1. Use ujjayi breathing by inhaling and exhaling through your nose only.
  2. Begin in Downward facing dog.
  3. This is a great moment to really draw your belly button in and up toward your spine and engage Uddiyana bandha.
  4. Lift your right leg and reach it for the top corner of the wall behind you.
  5. Take a nice inhale and, on the exhale, lift your belly as you bring your right knee to the mat just to the outside of your right hand.
  6. Keep your left toes curled under to make sure that your foot stays straight.
  7. While keeping your pelvis neutral, start lowering your upper body. First, come down to your forearms. Then, if you can lower further, lower so you’re resting on the ground. As you are lowering, pay attention to your pelvis. Make sure it stays in neutral and level from side to side. There is a tendency to want to drop the left hip toward the floor here. Instead, keep the lift so your pelvis is even.
  8. Once you are set, you can uncurl your toes if your foot can stay in neutral. If your foot turns in or out, curl your toes under until your foot and ankle can learn how to be neutral.
  9. Hold here for 5 or more breaths. If you’re really working on a deep hip opening, you may want to hold here for a minute or more. Be careful, though. You don’t over-do it.
  10. To come out of this pose, plant your hands, curl your left toes under, and lift from your low belly and pelvis. You should be able to smoothly press back into Downward facing dog. This allows you to repeat steps 3-10 for the other side. Make sure to spend as much time on the left side as you did on the right.

For the Visual Learners…

Sometimes it’s just easier to have someone show you and talk you through how to practice Sleeping Pigeon pose correctly. Here’s a handy video for you.

Want to Learn More?

If you’re looking into Sleeping Pigeon pose (and its various modifications) today because you have some hip pain that you’re trying to get rid of, you’re in luck! I’ve created a course to teach you everything you need to know to permanently ditch hip and back pain. Click here to check out my Spinal Rejuvenation program.

Or, if you want a free taste of what you’ll learn in Spinal Rejuvenation, click here to download The Secret to IMMEDIATE + LASTING Pain Relief.

About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.