How to Do Eye of the Needle Pose: Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

 Verywell / Ben Goldstein

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Also Known As: Reverse Pigeon Pose

Targets: Hip opener, hamstring stretch

Level: Beginner

Eye of the needle pose is a gentle variation of pigeon pose to open up tight hips. This is a great option for those with sensitive knees.

This pose works well in a warm-up sequence before yoga class. It's a great way to wake up the lower body and prepare it for deeper stretches to come. It is also a good pose to finish a Vinyasa sequence before seated meditation.

How to Do Eye of the Needle Pose

Make space on your floor and grab a yoga mat for increased comfort. Here are the steps you need to follow for eye of the needle.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor.
  2. Hug your left knee into your chest.
  3. Cross the left ankle over your body and rest it on the right thigh.
  4. Relax the left knee away from your torso.
  5. Lift your right foot off the floor and thread your left hand through your legs (this is the eye of the needle) so your hands meet on the back side of your right thigh. As an alternative, clasp your hands on the front side of your right shin. 
  6. Take both hands and draw your right thigh toward your chest while exhaling. This will cause your left hip to open.
  7. Keep both feet flexed and your lower back rooted on the mat.
  8. Breathe deeply and relax the left knee to open the hips.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits Eye of the Needle Pose

This pose stretches the muscles around the hips, the lower back, and the hamstrings at the back of the thighs. Hip flexors often become tight when you sit for long periods, while the hamstrings are often tight on runners and those in sports that do a lot of running.

You will be able to have better posture and mobility by keeping them flexible. This pose also helps prepare you for seated poses and backbends.

Other Variations of Eye of the Needle Pose

As with most yoga poses, you can make this pose more accessible for your needs or deepen it to match your level of practice. Here are some tips for other variations.

Don't Elevate Your Foot

If you have very tight hips, stop after step four listed above, keeping the right foot on the floor. Remember to keep the right foot flexed to protect your knee. Practice the pose this way until you are able to do it completely without pain or discomfort.

Try It Seated

Ben Goldstein

If lying down doesn't work for you, there's also a chair version you can check out.

  1. Bring your right ankle to rest on your left thigh, keeping the knee in line with your ankle as much as possible.
  2. Hold this chair pigeon for 3 to 5 breaths.
  3. Bend forward to intensify the stretch if you like.
  4. Repeat with the left leg.

Deepen the Knee Bend

To deepen the stretch, draw the right knee and shin closer to your chest by hooking the bends of your arms underneath the calf. You can either straighten your left leg long onto your mat or keep the right foot on the left thigh. Focus on deep breaths to ease your right shin closer to your chest, keeping the head on the floor.

Common Mistakes

To get the most from this pose, you will need to avoid some common errors. Here is what you need to know about common mistakes.

Forcing the Stretch

Do not force the stretch. Go only as deep as is comfortable. With practice, you should naturally become more flexible.

Rounding Back, Raising Head

Keep your back flat on the mat. Do not raise your head or shoulders. If you can't grasp your thigh, use a modification or a strap rather than come up off the mat.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this pose if you have any shoulder, neck, knee, back, or hip problem. After the first trimester, pregnant women should avoid poses where you are flat on your back.

You also should not feel any stress on the knee. While you will feel a great stretch along the front of the hip, it should not be painful. If you feel any pain, come out of the pose. If this pain persists, you may want to talk to a healthcare provider about your symptoms.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Park D sung, Jung S hwa. Effects of hamstring self-stretches on pelvic mobility in persons with low back pain. Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Science. 2020;9(3):140-148. doi:10.14474/ptrs.2020.9.3.140

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.