How to Do Eye of the Needle Pose (Sucirandhrasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Eye of the needle
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

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. In some cases, Pigeon is too intense for the people who need it the most. Eye of the Needle Pose is basically the same stretch as Pigeon, but since it's done lying on your back it's much easier to control the intensity. 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.

Benefits

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 helps prepare you for seated poses and backbends.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  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. Let the left knee relax 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. Using your hands, draw your right thigh toward your chest while exhaling. This will cause your left hip to open.
  7. Keep both feet flexed.
  8. Continue to breathe deeply and relax the left knee to open the hips.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

Common Mistakes

To get the most from this pose, avoid these errors.

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 the 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.

Modifications and Variations

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

Need a Modification?

If you have very tight hips, stop after step 4, keeping the right foot on the floor.

Remember to keep the right foot flexed to protect your knee.

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. Hold this chair Pigeon for three to five breaths.
  2. You may forward bend to intensify the stretch if you like.
  3. Repeat with the left leg.
Pigeon Pose in a Chair
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Up for a Challenge?

To deepen the stretch, draw the right knee closer to your chest and use your left elbow to gently nudge your left knee away from your body.

Lift your forehead up to meet your right knee. 

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 should not feel any stress on the knee. You will feel a great stretch along the front of the hip, but it should not be painful. If you feel any pain, come out of the pose.

Try It Out

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

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