Lying Hip Stretch (Eye of the Needle) with head lifted

I’m looking for opinions about eye of the needle pose, here called Lying Hip Stretch. A Pilates instructor once said I was defeating the purpose of the pose when lifting my head and had me rest it on a ball and use a strap. I’m also told that it’s better to hold the knee than behind the leg where there are tendons.

I would really like to be able to leave my head on the floor when I am holding my leg or knee. Also, it would be nice to know some other poses that affect connected muscles. When I sit on a couch with my ankle on my knee, my folded leg is elevated and it’s not very relaxing. In pigeon pose, I have a limited range of placements of my shin. I sit on a prop when I cradle my lower leg horizontally, in that one other rock-the-baby pose seen in the cover image for David’s Deep Release for the Hips, Hamstrings, and Lower Back (a great go-to course).

As things stand, when I do this pose, my best bet is to reach reach reach, then try to rest my head on a zafu with my hands around my knees. You can probably guess by now I am very inflexible, but that pose looks very relaxing and releasing, and I would love to hear others’ experiences with modifications and supporting poses.

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Thanks for the question.

The two modifications I work with are to leave your foot on the floor and simply push the knee of the stretching leg away from you or to loop a strap around the foot of the stretching leg and pull it toward you.

Your pilates instructor is right that it’s best to keep your head on the ground, since it can strain your neck, but you still want to be able to do this stretch comfortably.

Let me know if those modifications make sense.

Makes sense, thank you. I take it you mean the stretching leg is the “folded” one, not the supporting one.

If I am at home I guess I could try the variation with the floor foot on a wall, too. Do you like that modification?

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Yes, I meant the one on top, not the supporting one.

And yes, I was going to mention that option too but some people find it awkward to use the wall.

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