Sucirandhrasana (Eye of the Needle Pose): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Sucirandhrasana (Eye of the Needle Pose) - SharpMuscle
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Sucirandhrasana, also known as Eye of the Needle Pose or Dead Pigeon Pose, stretches the glutes, piriformis, and outer hip muscles, while strengthening the core muscles, quadriceps and lower leg muscles.

Information

Known as:Sucirandhrasana, Eye of the Needle Pose, Dead Pigeon Pose, Knee to Ankle Pose, Reclining One- legged Pigeon Pose
Sanskrit name:सूचिरन्ध्रासन
IAST:Sūcirandhrāsana
Pronunciation:Soo-chee-rundhra-ahs-uh-nuh
Type:Seated, hip-opener, reclined pose
Level:Intermediate
Focus:Hips, glutes
Total time:30 seconds to 1 minute on each side
Drishti:Forward;
Towards the center line of the body
Chakra:Svadhisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra
Indications:Glutes, piriformis, outer hip muscles, lower back pain, hamstrings, nervous system, stress, anxiety, mental tension
Counterposes:Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana), Supine Spinal Twist Pose (Supta Matsyendrasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Preparatory poses:Supine Figure Four Stretch, Reclined Butterfly Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana), Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), Standing Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana), Low Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana)
Follow-up poses:Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana), Seated Forward Fold Pose (Paschimottanasana), Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana), Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana), Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Contraindications:Hip or knee injuries, Lower back issues, Recent abdominal surgery, Recent knee or hip surgeries, High blood pressure, Pregnancy

Meaning

The term “Sucirandhrasana” is a Sanskrit na. me, which is made of three words — Suci + Randhra + Asana:

  1. Suci” = “Needle”
  2. Randhra” = “loop” or “hole” or “eye”
  3. Asana” = “pose” or “posture”

Therefore, Sucirandhrasana translates to “Needle Eye Pose” or “Eye of the Needle Pose” in English.

This name likely represents the shape created by crossing one ankle over the opposite knee, resembling the eye of a needle. The name metaphorically connects the physical form of the pose to the idea of threading a needle or passing through a small opening, symbolizing the focused and precise nature of the posture.

Benefits of Sucirandhrasana (Eye of the Needle Pose)

Sucirandhrasana targets the hips and glutes. It is a seated or reclined pose that helps to release tension in the hips, increase hip flexibility, and improve overall lower body mobility. Sucirandhrasana also offers a gentle stretch to the outer hips and gluteal muscles, promoting relaxation and rejuvenation. It is often practiced in hatha, vinyasa, and yin yoga sequences to enhance hip opening and create a sense of grounding in the body.

However, the physical and mental benefits of this asana are giving below:

Physical Benefits:

  • Hip opening: Sucirandhrasana deeply stretches the outer hip muscles, including the glutes and piriformis. This can help improve hip flexibility, alleviate hip tightness, and reduce discomfort or tension in the hip area.
  • Improved lower body flexibility: The asana also targets the inner thighs, hamstrings, and groins, providing a gentle stretch to these areas. Regular practice can gradually increase lower body flexibility and range of motion.
  • Enhanced circulation: Sucirandhrasana stimulates blood circulation in the lower body, including the hips and legs. This increased blood flow can nourish the muscles and joints, promoting overall vitality and wellness.
  • Stress and tension relief: The asana encourages relaxation and can help release physical and mental stress. Holding the pose while practicing deep breathing allows the body to enter a state of calm, promoting a sense of relaxation and well-being.
  • Improved posture and spinal alignment: Dead Pigeon Pose encourages a neutral spine and strengthens the core muscles, promoting good posture and spinal alignment. This can help alleviate back pain and improve overall body alignment.
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Mental and Emotional Benefits:

  • Mind-body connection: Practicing Eye of the Needle Pose requires focus and concentration on the body and breath. This cultivates a stronger mind-body connection, promoting mindfulness and awareness.
  • Stress reduction: The pose helps calm the nervous system and activate the body’s relaxation response, reducing stress and anxiety levels. It can be beneficial for individuals seeking a break from the demands of daily life and promoting a sense of inner peace.
  • Emotional balance: Sucirandhrasana can assist in releasing stored emotions and tensions in the hips, promoting emotional balance and stability. The deep stretch and focus on breath can create a sense of grounding and centeredness.
  • Mental clarity and focus: The meditative aspects of the asana can improve mental clarity, focus, and concentration. By quieting the mind and redirecting attention to the present moment, the asana can help enhance mental clarity and promote a sense of mental calmness.

Sucirandhrasana (Eye of the Needle Pose) Practice Guide

It is a seated or reclined posture that involves crossing one ankle over the opposite knee, creating a shape similar to the eye of a needle. Sucirandhrasana can be practiced in various positions, including seated on the ground, reclined on the back, or supported with props.

Step-by-step Instructions

  1. Begin by lying in Savasana (Corpse Pose), with your arms resting by your sides.
  2. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet flat on the ground.
  3. Separate your feet wider than hip-width apart, ensuring your thighs remain parallel to each other.
  4. Straighten and lift your left leg, extending your heel toward the ceiling.
  5. Bend your left knee and cross your left ankle over your right knee, positioning the left outer ankle outside the right knee, allowing the left foot to hover in the air.
  6. Flex your left foot by pressing through the heel and pulling the toes back toward the left.
  7. Exhale and draw your right knee toward your chest. Slide your left hand and forearm through the space between your legs, clasping both hands around the back of your right thigh (you may also hold your shin).
  8. Maintain a flat back against the floor or mat. Relax your shoulder blades down towards your waist and broaden your collarbones.
  9. Ground your sacrum and tailbone towards the floor, lengthening your spine.
  10. Gently touch your chin and direct your gaze towards the center line of your body. Stay in this position for about a minute, breathing evenly and smoothly.
  11. Exhale and release your leg, placing your right foot back on the ground. Lift your left leg straight up toward the ceiling again, then bend your knee and place your left foot on the ground.
  12. Repeat the same sequence with the opposite leg.
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Common Mistakes

Consider following common mistakes while practicing the Sucirandhrasana (Eye of the Needle Pose), that are explaining below:

1. Lifting the hips

Some practitioners tend to lift their hips off the ground during this asana. This usually happens because they engage their core muscles excessively or lack awareness of maintaining a grounded base. To avoid this mistake, it’s crucial to keep the sacrum and tailbone grounded while lengthening the spine.

2. Rounding the back

Another common mistake is rounding the back instead of keeping it flat against the floor or mat. This can occur due to tightness in the hip flexors or limited flexibility in the hamstrings. It’s essential to focus on maintaining a neutral spine by engaging the core muscles and lengthening the entire spine.

3. Straining the neck

Some individuals may strain their neck by lifting their head too high or looking upward instead of directing their gaze towards the center line of the body. This mistake can lead to discomfort and tension in the neck. The correct alignment involves gently touching the chin and keeping the eyes down, creating a relaxed and neutral position for the neck.

4. Holding the breath

Holding the breath or shallow breathing is a common error during Dead Pigeon Pose. It often happens when practitioners focus too much on the physical aspect of the pose and neglect the importance of maintaining a steady and smooth breath. It’s crucial to continue breathing evenly and deeply throughout the pose to enhance relaxation and promote a calm state of mind.

5. Overexertion or pushing too far

Some individuals may push themselves too hard in this asana, leading to excessive strain or discomfort. This can happen when they try to force their leg deeper into the crossed position or hold the asana for longer than their body is ready for. It’s essential to listen to your body’s limits and practice with patience and moderation, gradually progressing as flexibility and strength improve.

Modifications and Variations

Modifications and variations in the Eye of the Needle Pose can be beneficial to accommodate different levels of flexibility, address specific limitations or injuries, and provide opportunities for further exploration and challenge. However, the modifications and variations of this asana are explaining below:

1. Supported Sucirandhrasana

For practitioners with limited hip mobility or lower back discomfort, using props such as bolsters, blankets, or folded towels can provide support. Placing a bolster or folded blanket under the hips or behind the back can help maintain a neutral spine and alleviate strain in the lower back. This modification allows individuals to experience the benefits of the pose while reducing discomfort or excessive stretching.

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2. One-Legged Sucirandhrasana

This variation is suitable for individuals who may find the full expression of the pose challenging. Instead of crossing one ankle over the opposite knee, they can simply place the foot of the lifted leg on the ground near the opposite knee. This modification reduces the intensity of the stretch in the hips while still providing a gentle opening.

3. Supine Sucirandhrasana

In this modification, the asana is practiced lying on the back rather than the traditional supine position. It can be helpful for those with limited flexibility or mobility in the hips and knees. By keeping the spine supported on the ground, individuals can focus on releasing tension in the hips and maintaining proper alignment.

4. Dynamic Sucirandhrasana

This variation involves gently moving the legs and hips in a rhythmic motion. Starting from the basic asana, practitioners can alternate crossing and uncrossing the legs, creating a flowing movement. Dynamic Sucirandhrasana helps to increase mobility, improve circulation, and warm up the hip joints. It can also be a great way to explore the asana with a sense of fluidity and mindfulness.

5. Advanced Sucirandhrasana

For experienced practitioners looking for a deeper challenge, advanced variations can be explored. This may include adding a twist by reaching the opposite arm across the body to hold the foot or exploring different arm and hand positions. These variations enhance the stretch and engage additional muscles, requiring greater strength, balance, and flexibility.

Precautions and Contraindications

Precautions and contraindications in Sucirandhrasana (Reclining One-Legged Pigeon Pose) are crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of practitioners. They help to prevent injuries and complications that may arise due to certain conditions or limitations.

However, the precautions and contraindications of the Knee to Ankle Pose are explaining below:

  • Hip or knee injuries: Individuals with hip or knee injuries, such as sprains, strains, or chronic conditions like arthritis, should approach Sucirandhrasana with caution. The asana involves placing pressure on the hips and knees, which can exacerbate existing injuries or cause discomfort. It’s crucial to listen to the body and modify the asana or avoid it altogether if it aggravates any pain or instability.
  • Lower back issues: Those with lower back problems, such as herniated discs, sciatica, or chronic pain, should exercise caution when practicing Sucirandhrasana. The asana requires a neutral spine and can place stress on the lower back if not performed correctly. Modifications, such as using props or practicing a supine variation, can help alleviate strain on the lower back and provide support.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women should approach Sucirandhrasana with caution, especially as the pregnancy progresses. The asana involves lying on the back, which can compress the inferior vena cava and potentially affect blood flow to the uterus. It’s advisable to modify the pose by practicing it in a reclined or side-lying position, and consult with a prenatal yoga instructor/teacher or healthcare provider for guidance.
  • Recent abdominal surgery: Individuals who have undergone recent abdominal surgery, such as cesarean section or abdominal hernia repair, should avoid or modify Sucirandhrasana. The Dead Pigeon Pose requires engaging the core muscles and can put strain on the abdominal area, which may impede the healing process or cause discomfort. It’s crucial to follow post-surgical guidelines and seek medical advice before attempting the pose.
  • High blood pressure: Sucirandhrasana involves bringing the legs closer to the chest, which can increase blood pressure in some individuals. If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure or any cardiovascular conditions, it’s crucial to avoid straining or holding the breath during the asana. Practicing a modified version or seeking guidance from a qualified instructor can help ensure safe participation.
  • Recent knee or hip surgeries: Individuals who have undergone recent knee or hip surgeries should avoid or modify Sucirandhrasana, as the pose places stress on these joints. It’s crucial to follow the post-operative guidelines provided by the surgeon or physical therapist and gradually reintroduce yoga asanas under their guidance.

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