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Follow These 6 Steps to Take Flight in Flying Pigeon Pose (Photo Tutorial)

By Nomad Yoga

Flying pigeon pose, or eka pada galavasana, is no easy feat. This arm balance requires strength, stability, flexibility, endurance, control, and so much more.

At first glance, this gravity-defying posture may seem unattainable. But you may be surprised to hear that it’s actually much easier than it looks.

If you pay attention to technique and the concept of counterbalance, you may just find yourself flying in eka pada galavasana in no time!

Need help with your arm balance technique? Here are 5 Common Mistakes in Crow Pose (And How to Fix Them!)

Rock Your Eka Pada Galavasana and Take Flight in Flying Pigeon Pose by Following These 6 Steps:

Make sure to warm up your shoulders, core, and hips before attempting flying pigeon pose.

You may wish to have two yoga blocks nearby to make this arm balance more accessible and a pillow, blanket, or yoga bolster in front of you to serve as a “crash pad” just in case you fall (it happens!).

1. Prepare Your Hips

Flying pigeon pose requires a lot of mobility in the hips, so after you’ve warmed them up sufficiently, you can prep them for the shape of the pose.

Woman yoga teacher dressed in all black practicing a yoga balance (standing figure-4 pose) against a white backdrop

To Practice:

  • Start standing with your feet roughly hip-distance apart
  • Draw your palms to meet in front of your heart
  • Focus your eyes onto one, nonmoving point on the floor in front of you and keep your gaze locked to steady your balance
  • Cinch in around your whole waistline as if tightening a corset to firmly engage your core
  • Pour your weight into your left leg and rise to the ball of your right foot
  • When you feel steady, lift your right foot off the floor, open your hip, and bend your knee to cross your right ankle over your left knee in a figure-4 shape
  • Bend your left knee deeply and sink your hips low into a squat
  • Lengthen your back body and hug your navel toward your spine
  • Get comfortable in this shape for a moment before moving onto the next step

2. Find Stability in Your Hands

Of course, in all arm balances, your hands become your stable point of contact with the floor, and flying pigeon pose is no exception. So you need to find stability on your hands before taking any weight in your arms.

Woman yoga teacher dressed in all black preparing for a yoga pose arm balance (flying pigeon pose or eka pada galavasana) against a white backdrop

To Practice:

  • Keep your legs as they are and hinge from your hips to bend your torso forward
  • Either release your palms onto blocks on their lowest height setting or directly onto the floor
  • Plant your hands roughly shoulder-width apart
  • Spread your fingers wide and evenly space between them
  • Root down firmly into the perimeter of your palms
  • Gently grip at the mat with your fingertips
  • Get comfortable in this shape for a moment before moving onto the next step

Want to feel more stable on your hands? Practice this Flow Toward Crow Pose

3. Hook Your Foot

In eka pada galavasana, it’s imperative to keep your shin high up on your arms so that you don’t start sliding downward toward the floor while you’re trying to resist gravity. So the placement and the “hook” of your foot are crucial to find stability when you balance.

Woman yoga teacher dressed in all black preparing for a yoga pose arm balance (flying pigeon pose or eka pada galavasana) against a white backdrop

To Practice:

  • Gently bend your elbows straight toward the back of your mat 
  • Place your right shin over your right and left triceps as high up toward your armpits as you can comfortably reach
  • Flex your right ankle and hook your toes around your left upper arm
  • Press you shin down against your arms and resist back up against your shin with your arms to find a counterbalance of muscular energy
  • Get comfortable in this shape for a moment before moving onto the next step

4. Lean Forward

Counterbalance is the magic ingredient for all arm balances, including flying pigeon pose. The trick is to find the magic “tipping point” when you lean your body weight far enough forward that your back leg becomes light and can naturally lift from the floor—without any jump needed.

Woman yoga teacher dressed in all black preparing for a yoga pose arm balance (flying pigeon pose or eka pada galavasana) against a white backdrop

To Practice:

  • Bend your elbows slightly deeper into a chaturanga shape
  • Hug your elbows toward the midline of your body and draw your core in and up
  • Lean your torso forward toward the top of your mat
  • Continue to lean forward—farther than you think you should—until your left leg becomes light and can effortlessly lift from the floor
  • Draw your left heel in closely toward your pelvis and make yourself into a compact ball
  • Actively press down into your palms to lift the weight of your body up away from the floor
  • Get comfortable in this shape for a moment before moving onto the next step

5. Fly

At this point, you’re already arm balancing, so the final icing on the cake is to extend your floating leg out long behind you. This requires more counterbalance as well as core control, so move slowly as your body adjusts to the small shifts in balance.

Woman yoga teacher dressed in all black practicing a yoga pose arm balance (flying pigeon pose or eka pada galavasana) against a white backdrop

To Practice:

  • Continue to lean your torso even farther forward toward the top of your mat as you simultaneously begin to straighten your left leg back behind you
  • With every slight change in your torso's position leaning forward, adjust your back leg to compensate for the shift of weight 
  • Send energy back firmly through your left foot—either point your toes or flex your foot (just activate it strongly!)
  • Continue to press the floor away from you to lift your body even higher and draw your shoulders up away from the floor
  • Hold here for a few, long deep breaths to get really comfortable in this shape

Love to fly? These 7 Prep Poses Will Help You Build the Strength to Master Crow Pose in No Time

6. Repeat

Nothing causes arm balances to stick in your muscle memory more than repetition. So repeat, repeat, repeat. And continue to practice until your body feels the subtle changes that happen when you shift your weight and learns how to quickly respond to keep you balanced.

Woman yoga teacher dressed in all black preparing for a yoga pose arm balance (flying pigeon pose or eka pada galavasana) against a white backdrop

To Practice:

  • Repeat steps one through five again on the opposite side with your left shin crossing over your arms and your right leg extending back behind you
  • Then, repeat both sides a few more times to really etch flying pigeon pose into your muscle memory

Still feel like you need more help? Check out this FREE Flying Pigeon Pose Video Tutorial

Take Flight in Flying Pigeon Pose With Patience and Persistence

Mastering any yoga pose is not easy—especially not a challenging arm balance—so go easy on yourself. Have patience but also persistence to continue trying until you’re able to magically take flight.

If you truly work with the counterbalance of your own weight, flying pigeon pose should feel more or less effortless as your body starts to feel weightless when you find your magic “tipping point.”

Keep practicing and, in time, your eka pada galavasana will be flying high!

Ready to Take Your Flying Pigeon Pose to the Next Level?

Woman yoga teacher dressed in all black practicing the arm balance eka pada koundinyasana on a black yoga mat in front of a brick wall and windows

Practice Take Flight with Leah Sugerman to master countless arm balances!

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