The Benefits Of The Pigeon Pose For Dancers

Let’s look at the benefits of the pigeon pose for dancers and how you can use it to improve your dancing skills.

The King Pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) is one of Yoga’s super poses!

This pose can truly be called a full-body pose because it targets so many muscles, and opens many different joints and areas of the body. This pose often looks intimidating to the beginner, but like all other yoga poses, it can be broken down into preparatory exercises and mastered successfully.

benefits of the pigeon pose for dancers

Let’s find out more about The Pigeon Pose Eka Pada Rajakapotasana.

How To Do The King Pigeon Pose Successfully

This video shows a great way for beginners to ease into the Pigeon Pose. Using a towel really helps to ease into the stretch.

This video shows you how to get into the full King Pigeon Pose once you have mastered the basics.

Make sure to warm up well as she is doing to enable you to get into the stretch as comfortably as you can.

Click here to find out how to get into the King Pigeon Pose in the quickest time possible.

Which Muscles Are Working In The Pigeon Pose?

There are many muscles at play, which is why the benefits of the Pigeon Pose for dancers are unparalleled.

All the extensors of the shoulder are worked in the king pigeon pose.

If you’re not familiar with anatomy and kinesiology, the extensor muscles are the ones that bring the arm from the overhead position and down. So, to bring the arm over your head these muscles need to be flexible and well stretched.

To make sure that you have proper mobility in your shoulder joint for the Pigeon Pose Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, you need flexibility in:

Pectoralis major sternal part.

The long head of the triceps.

And of course, if you’re going to bend your elbow very far, you would need flexibility in two short heads of your triceps as well.

Besides having flexibility in your shoulder extensors to bring your arm overhead, you need to have flexibility in the muscles of your scapula.

If these scapula muscles are not flexible they will restrict overhead movement. Scapula muscles restricting overhead movement are:

Pectoralis minor

Rhomboid major

Elbow Extensors in the King Pigeon Pose

For the elbow, you will need flexibility in your:

Teres Major

Posterior Deltoid

Latissimus Dorsi

If any of these muscles, either of the scapula or shoulder joint are not flexible you will not be able to bring your arm up.

For the front leg, there is little rotation. Medial rotators have to be stretched for you to be able to rotate your leg out and place the whole outside of the top and bottom leg on the floor comfortably.

Here you need flexibility primarily in your:

Gluteus Medius

Gluteus Minimus


If you have very tight adductors, especially Adductor Magnus, you will need flexibility there too.

There are other medial rotators, for example, the Tensor fasciae latae, but the flexibility of that muscle does not come into play here because the muscle stretches when the leg is extended or is behind you. Here the leg is in front of you and thus the muscle doesn’t restrict it.

So you see its several muscles need the flexibility here as well. What is interesting to note is that people who have tighter muscles on the outside of the front leg will try to move the leg to the outside. And people who have tighter muscles on the inside, the inner thighs will try to move the leg more inward when performing this pose.

Next, we have the rear leg in the King Pigeon Pose. Here all the flexors of the hip are involved. There are six of them.


Tensor Fasciae Latae

Rectos Femoris




Tightness in any one of these muscles, even just one, will prevent you from extending the leg back. Additionally, all the adductors flex the hip and thus tightness in any one of them will prevent the extension of the hip at your knee joint.

These four adductors also need to be very flexible.

Adductor Magnus

Adductor Longus

Adductor Brevis


The three short heads of your quadriceps can prevent the flexion of the knee in addition to the Rectus femoris which is also a hip flexor. They are:

Vastus Medialis

Vastus Lateralis

Vastus Intermedius

So these are all the muscles and joints involved in the Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or King Pigeon Pose.

This is why mastering the Pigeon pose is so beneficial for dancers, as you are stretching and releasing so many muscles in the body and every dancer needs a flexible body.

Why Can’t I Do The Pigeon Pose?

Here are some tests you can try to see what muscles you need to work on to achieve the King Pigeon Pose.

This extract below is taken from Zaichik Stretching Techniques blog, and the Easy Flexibility Program on this blog will help you to achieve this pose by working on the individual muscles you need to make this pose possible.

Paul Zaichik, is a World Renowned Fitness & Flexibility Expert. Founder of ElasticSteel Method of Athletic Conditioning, EasyFlexibility, and the Zaichik Stretching Techniques.

“Now that you know how many muscles and joints are involved in the Eka Pada Rajakapotasana pose it’s time to test your body to see where the weak areas are and work on them.

You may need help with just your shoulders. Or just your front hip. Or just your back hip. Or maybe the problem is in your spine.

Maybe you need help with two or three out of the four. Below, you will find simple tests to see the flexibility in those four areas. Once you know where your problem areas are you will then be able to work on your flexibility by isolating each of the areas using the Zaichik Stretching Techniques.

Shoulder Flexibility Test for the King Pigeon Pose

To do this test:

Stand with your back to the wall.

Do not allow your lower back to arch

Keep your lower back in contact with the wall

Bring your straight arms directly over your head.

Note: That on the picture you see a demonstration of the curve that SHOULD NOT be there. Your goal is to press your flat back against the wall so that the curve demonstrated is avoided. When you feel your back completely touching the wall only then raise your arms and try to touch the wall behind you with your wrists to see your true shoulder flexibility.

When your back is against the wall and your arms are up, if your lower back is arched as you see demonstrated in the picture, this means that you are compensating with your back for lack of shoulder flexibility. Our Overhead Shoulder Flexibility program will help you.

Are you able to touch the back of your wrists with straight arms to the wall?

If the answer to this question is yes, then it means that you have good shoulder flexibility. Of course, you can get even more flexible in your shoulders if you wish with our Overhead Shoulder Flexibility program, but you have enough flexibility for this pose.

If the answer to this question is no, then it means that you need to work on your shoulder flexibility, and our Overhead Shoulder Flexibility program will help you improve your shoulder flexibility very fast.

Front Leg Flexibility Test for the King Pigeon Pose

Next, let’s check if you have enough flexibility in the front leg for this pose.

To do this test:

Lie down on your back

Keep both legs straight

Lift one leg up

Flex the hip to ninety (90) degrees

Flex the knee to 90 degrees

Rotate the leg out

Can you rotate the leg out so that your shin is parallel to your body?

If the answer to this question is yes, then you have about enough flexibility for King Pigeon Pose. However, if your front leg will need to compensate for your back leg, it’s ideal for you to be able to bring your thigh toward your in the externally rotated position and make contact with your thigh to your torso. It is not required but will make the pose a lot easier to perform and remain in. If you’re not able to do it, please take a look at the lotus pose, which will help you with the flexion of your hip in an externally rotated position.

If the answer to this question is no, then you do not have enough flexibility for the pigeon pose. If, while lying on your back, you are not able to flex your leg with an internal rotation and bring it over your body so that your knee is at least over your stomach or better yet, over your chest. Then the Lotus Program will help. Alternatively, a Glutes & Iliotibial Band program will help.

Spine Flexibility Test for the King Pigeon Pose

Next, let’s check the ability of your spine to hyper-extend. It is very rare for people to have flexible enough hip flexors and extension of the rear leg in the King Pigeon pose, not to compensate for the lower back.

To do this test:

Lie down on the floor.

Place your hands under your shoulders.

Press up into the cobra position.

You want your hips to remain on the floor. If you were to place your hand just below your belly button and move your hand out to the side you will encounter bones on the side of your stomach. Those bones (iliac bones) should stay on the floor.

Press up and see if you can bring your chest, aiming directly forward. In other words, your sternum should be vertical. This is the minimum flexibility that you need in your spine for the King Pigeon Pose.

Can you do the cobra position?

If the answer is yes, then you have the minimum flexibility required to do the King Pigeon Pose.

If the answer is no, and you are not able to do the cobra with your chest facing forward and your hips on the ground, our Back Extension (Back Bending) Program would be very helpful.

Hip Extension of the Leg in the King Pigeon Pose

As far as the fourth component, which is the hip extension of the leg. It’s a safe bet that you do not have enough flexibility in your hip flexors and in your abductors to extend your leg.

This is not even something that needs to be tested. The reason for that is because the muscles are usually very tight. If someone has enough flexibility in these muscles, that person is probably so well trained that they can easily perform the King Pigeon Pose and would not even be reading this article.

Alternatively, someone may even be able to perform the king pigeon pose due to flexibility in the spine, front leg, and shoulders and still have tight hip flexors. I have seen that many times as well. Everyone who cannot do a king pigeon would need a Hip Flexors program.

So once, you know, where you have the tightness, you can either use the EasyFlexibility programs for each one of the four areas:

The Front Leg

The Back Leg

Overhead Shoulder

Spinal Extension

You can also use standard yoga poses to get into the Pigeon Pose, but it may take longer.”

The Benefits Of The Pigeon Pose For Dancers

Why Should Dancers Do The Pigeon Pose?

Since the pigeon pose targets many muscles, including the hip flexors, glutes, and piriformis muscles, it helps improve the range of motion in the hips, which all dancers can benefit from.

It may also strengthen the muscles that support the hips and lower back. Pigeon pose may also help relieve lower back pain by stretching the muscles and tendons around the spine.

The Pigeon Pose also uses core strength to keep your hips level and targets the psoas muscle and hip flexors.

king pigeon pose

A great stretch to do before performance as it also calms the mind.

In yoga, the Pigeon Pose is said to activate the second chakra, Swadisthana, which is associated with creativity, emotions, and sensuality.

The pose helps to release tension and stress from the hips and lower back. Sequentially, it helps to release emotional blockages and promote a sense of freedom and openness.

So as you can see, the benefits of the pigeon pose for dancers add up to many.

Though generally safe, Pigeon Pose — especially when performed incorrectly — may increase pressure on your hips, knees, and lower back. People who are pregnant or have chronic musculoskeletal injuries should talk with their doctor before trying out this pose.

5 thoughts on “The Benefits Of The Pigeon Pose For Dancers”

  1. Hey an interesting post you have here!

    I really like and appreciate how you have included multiple videos on how to do this pose. It makes it much easier to learn. This pose does seem quite hard especially if you are not super flexible or dancing isn’t your thing. This pose isn’t only beneficial for dancers but those who want to add some fun into their yoga routines or to improve muscle flexibility!

    Thanks again and have a great day!

    • At my age I can only get into the first part of the pose, but it is an amazing stretch for your lower back and people with sciatica can also benefit from this stretch, so no you don’t have to be a dancer to reap the rewards.

  2. Hello, I enjoyed learning more about the pigeon pose and its benefits to dancers. One thing that I enjoyed from the post was the discussion of the different muscles involved in obtaining the pose. You broke down the different areas of the body, what functions they perform, and their importance of them. For someone like me who likes to look at my body and try to understand what each part is supposed to do when I want to make my body do something, this was helpful.

    Another thing that I appreciated about your post was the troubleshooting section. The different flexibility tests help one understand why one might not be getting the desired results when trying to get into the pigeon pose. The breakdown of the steps to perform each test was also clear, and I could picture in my mind how my body was supposed to be at each step of the process.

  3. What an insightful and well-detailed post, Michel! As a dance enthusiast, I find the breakdown of the King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) particularly enlightening, especially the emphasis on the muscular and joint engagement necessary for mastering this pose. Your explanation of how each muscle group contributes to achieving the full pose makes it much more approachable, especially for beginners who might be intimidated at first.

    Additionally, the specific tests for assessing readiness for each component of the pose are fantastic tools for self-evaluation. These will definitely help dancers understand their bodies better and target their training to improve their flexibility where it’s needed most.

    Lastly, the connection of this pose to the second chakra and its benefits in enhancing creativity and emotional release is very intriguing. It adds a layer of depth to the practice that extends beyond physical benefits. Thanks for sharing this comprehensive guide—it’s a valuable resource for dancers looking to improve both their performance and their overall well-being.

    • Thank you Gary. I am always looking for new ways to improve my students dancing, and this is just one of those great stretches that work well for dancers and non dancers alike.


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