Greatest Hips: Double Pigeon Pose

By Paige Greenfield

Your hips are the key to your yoga practice and your mobility. Learn Double Pigeon Pose to stretch and loosen the most overlooked joints in your body.

DOUBLE PIGEON POSE (also called Ankle to Knee)

WHY: One pose can actively, deeply, and therapeutically release many taut muscle groups. Double Pigeon is no exception. The stacked-leg pose stretches your outer hips, which means you will also feel this one in your hamstrings, quadriceps, low back, and glutes.

Double Pigeon is also a stepping-stone toward accomplishing the Everest of all hip openers: Lotus. The deepest stretch for your hips and knees any yoga pose has to offer, yogic lore says Lotus is also the most calming pose, which explains why it is a preferred pose for meditation pros. Though you may not get the full Double Pigeon perfect tomorrow (or in this lifetime), the act of trying will open your hips a micrometer more than they are now--and simultaneously the surrounding muscles, tendons, and joints. This is the fastest way to put passive stretches to aggressive use and root out unwanted tension.


HOW: Sitting up straight, bend your left leg and place it on the floor in front of you, so your shin is at a 90-degree angle with your thigh. (Shin is parallel to the front of the mat.) The left knee should also be directly in line with your hip socket--no wider. Using your hands, place your right ankle on top of your left knee so your shins are stacked and the ankle dangles over the left knee. (The tendency or the "cheat" is to allow the ankle to come interior to the knee.) Flex your feet to protect your knees.


Take a deep inhale. On the exhale, walk your fingertips in front of you as you fold your body forward over your legs, pressing your sit bones into the floor. If your hips are more open, try getting your palms, forearms, or arms to touch the floor. Rest your chin on stacked blocks or pillows if it will help keep your back straight. Stay here for 1 to 5 minutes before switching sides.