This passive variant of single-Legged King Pigeon Posture (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), commonly called “Pigeon” can be a tricky pose to practice. And I believe that’s why we see it executed inappropriately so often.
I completely realize why. It’s awkward! It’s asymmetrical, which tends to feel nonnatural. So how can yogis find a feeling of “ease” in a posture that doesn’t show to have a neutral point? The magic is in the modifications Change and everything probable.
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Modification 1: Z- Sits Pigeon Pose
This is not technically Pigeon, but it is a super opportunity for people, who are greatly embarrassed and inconvenient in the mythical pose. If your hips are flutter a foot above the floor in the regular version and there is the pain where there should not be, try this rather. Sitting conveniently, bring the front (left in the photo) knee as close to 90 degrees as your body allows. Find the amount of outside rotation you are comfortable with. If your foot inches near to the groin, that is OK too. For the full pose, you would stretch the right leg all the way back. Here, just open the right leg to 90 degrees at the back of you. This permit some opening in the hips (same as Pigeon) but without the wobbly balancing action or force in the front knee.
In your Z-Sit, you can remain straight or lean forward. Start to press the back hip (the one with the leg behind) forward to extend the front of it and continue to externally turn the front hip open. As you get more relaxed here, you can work on straightening the back leg and square the hips toward the top of your mat.
see also: Power up your arm balances
Modification 2: Bring the floor to you
You will apparently need this change somewhere between the Z-sit and full pose. Quite naturally, there are still times when Pigeon is not completely accessible to me and I love this change. When the hips are not quite warm enough to sit on the ground easily, it is far better for you to bring the ground up to them with a bolster, blanket, or pillow. Just make sure your whole upper leg from the hip to the knee is supported so that you do not put additional force on the joint. Square your hips to the front of your mat and kick the back foot into the ground with the toes facing downward. Then let go. This version lets you comfortably into the pose and reaps all the advantage without the fight to stay balanced on your hands and holds yourself up away from the ground.
Modification 3: Add a Strap
Once you are on your rounded cushion or pillow, you may feel 100% more positive and relaxed in this pose. It’s pretty common! Maybe you are even ready to try the next step. If so, keeping the front knee and hip supported and without arching or bending your back, you can add a little flair to your pose by taking a small band on a leash throughout the back foot. It will add some movement to the quads and the hip flexors without compromising the alignment of the rest of the body.
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