Eye Of The Needle Pose, Sucirandhrasana, (soo-chee-rahn-dahs-anna)
bhuja (shoulder or arm) + pida (pressure) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: Knee to Ankle Pose, Reclining One-Legged Pigeon, Dead Pigeon Pose
Release your worries and woes from the hips with this restorative hip opener.
Eye Of The Needle Pose Fundamentals
Eye Of The Needle Pose is a restorative hip opener that has many names – such as Reclining Pigeon or Knee To Ankle Pose.
It is a more gentle alternative to Pigeon Pose for those who want to work on opening tight hips, and works much better for those with sensitive or injured knees.
This asana is done in many yoga styles, but we will most commonly encounter it under this name in Yin Yoga.
If you want to practice this asana in yin yoga style, the only difference you’ll make is the time – poses are held for at least 3 minutes, and you are trying to be completely still.You don’t need to warm up for this kind of practice – the opposite is actually much better. With cool muscles, you will reach the deeper tissues more effectively, which is the goal of Yin Yoga. However, make sure you’re not going as deep as you would if the muscles were warm.
Alternatively, you can perform Eye Of The Needle Pose as a cool down in dynamic yoga styles or as a preparatory asana for even deeper hip stretches such as Lotus Pose.
Finally, you can use it on its own to relieve sciatica or tightness after sitting for long periods of time.
Eye Of The Needle Pose Benefits
- Stretches and lengthens the hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, and lower back.
- It relaxes and cools the body, and releases the tension from the leg muscles and lower back, which can be helpful for athletes, or those who stand or sit in the same position for many hours.
- Stretches the pelvic floor muscles, which can help with symptoms of menstruation, such as cramps.
- Relieves sciatica pain and lower back pain.
- We store a lot of emotions in our hips, and hip openers like Eye Of The Needle Pose may help us release these emotions, such as stress, sadness, or anger.
- Prepares the body for even deeper stretches and for meditation.
How To Do Eye Of The Needle Pose: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
- Lie on your back. Bend the knees and place the feet on the floor.
- Bring your left bent leg close to the chest and hug it with your arms.
- Then move the leg so that the left ankle sits on top of the right thigh, just above the knee.
- Open the left knee to the side.
- Now thread the left hand between the legs and meet it with the right hand behind the right tight. Alternatively, you can also clasp them around the right shin.
- Bring the thighs toward you until you feel a stretching sensation. Flex the feet and keep the low back on the ground.
- Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths, or b between 3 and 5 minutes for the Yin version of the pose. Release and repeat on the other side.
Tips And Tricks:
- Keep the entire back on the mat, don’t lift the hips of the mat. Although the pose may appear deeper when you lift the hips, having a long spine will deepen the stretch.
- If it’s difficult to clasp the hands between the thigh, use a yoga strap.
- Deepen the stretch by bringing the knee closer to you, and release by moving it further from you.
- Place a cushion below the head if you feel any discomfort or pain in the head or neck.
- Keep the feet flexed.
- Avoid leaning to one side – try to center your body on your spine.
- If you’re doing the Yin Yoga version of the pose, try to relax the muscles as much as possible. Release the shoulders, neck, and stomach, and use only as much arm strength as you need to keep you in the position.
Eye Of The Needle Pose Variation:
Eye Of The Needle Pose Variation: Foot On The Ground
The easiest way to simplify this asana for those with tight hips is to leave one foot on the ground. Only focus on flexing the foot and opening the knee of the leg that’s on top. You can also slightly push open the knee with the hand.
When you feel ready, you can progress by lifting the foot off the ground, but not grabbing the leg, which will lower the intensity of the stretch.
Eye Of The Needle Pose Variation: Seated Eye Of The Needle
Eye Of The Needle Pose can also be performed in a chair.
Sit in a chair and place the left ankle on the right thigh, just above the knee. Open the left knee and try to keep it in line with the ankle. You can intensify the stretch by leaning your torso forward.
Eye Of The Needle Pose Variation: Against A Wall
You can practice this pose against the wall. This is perfect for the Yin Yoga practice as it allows you to completely relax your muscles as your arms aren’t doing any work.
Simply lie facing the wall at a distance approximately the length of shin. Then place left ankle on the right thigh and lift the right foot. Press the foot into the wall, so that the shin is perpendicular to the ground. Release the arms by your side.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Forcing it. Forcing won’t make you more flexible – it can only lead to injury. Go only as far, so you can feel a stretch but no pain, and stay present in your practice.
Rounding the back. Keeping the spine flat on the floor is more important than bringing the knee closer to the chest. Don’t raise the head, shoulders, and hips off the ground. If that’s difficult when you’re hugging your thigh, release your arms or use a strap.
Injuries and Conditions
Avoid this pose if you have injuries in the shoulders, neck, knees, back, or hip. Also, refrain in the pose or ask a teacher for a suitable adjustment if you’re pregnant. If you feel pain in the knee or hip, exit the pose immediately.
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