Downward-Facing Pigeon Pose

Definition - What does Downward-Facing Pigeon Pose mean?

Downward-facing pigeon pose is an intermediate hip opener that increases flexibility and prepares the body for more challenging postures in the pigeon and king pigeon series of poses.

This pose is a half split with one leg stretched back so the top of the foot presses into the mat and the other leg is bent in front with the calf resting on the ground. The torso folds over the front leg, and head and outstretched arms rest on the mat.

The posture is also known by its Sanskrit name, adho mukha kapotasana.

Yogapedia explains Downward-Facing Pigeon Pose

Downward-facing pigeon stretches the muscles around the knees and is especially effective for opening the hips because – unlike many hip-opening poses – it increases both the external rotation of the femur in the hip and lengthens the primary hip flexor (psoas muscle). As such, the posture benefits those who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk.

The pose serves as a resting posture after a series of standing poses or after Sun Salutation. Downward-facing pigeon also prepares the body for seated postures such as lotus, bound angle and fire log poses. It also prepares the body for backbending poses like bow, camel and cobra, in addition to the king pigeon series of poses.

As a modification for beginners or those with limited flexibility, a blanket may be placed under the hips and a yoga block or other bolster under the forehead, if the head doesn't reach the ground in this pose.

Email Newsletter

Join thousands of others with our weekly newsletter