Pigeon / One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Pigeon I & II: Kapotasana I & II
1st & 2nd photos of Maggie Anderson taken by Connor O’Hara
3rd image courtesy of Yogajournal.com
Pigeon pose is one of my most favorite yoga poses. It’s wonderful to open the hips, inner and outer thighs and one of my most requested poses to instruct during yoga classes. As a wonderful hip opener, this is a beautiful pose to release blockages and emotions often repressed or locked in our hips. When in the resting variation of the pose (my favorite, shown below) we can go inward, release and let go of all that no longer serves us.
Full physical benefits of this pose are: Increases external ranges of motion of femur in hip socket; Lengthens hip flexors; Prepares body for backbends and seated postures; Stretches the thighs, groins and psoas, abdomen, chest and shoulders, and neck; Stimulates the abdominal organs and groin areas; Opens the hips, shoulders and chest; helps Urinary disorders.
Directions on how to come into the pose:
Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Bring your right knee forward to the back of your right wrist; at the same time angle your right shin under your torso and bring your right foot to the front of your left knee. The outside of your right shin will now rest on the floor. Slowly slide your left leg back, straightening the knee and descending the front of the thigh to the floor. Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor. Position the right heel just in front of the left hip. The right knee can angle slightly to the right, outside the line of the hip. Look back at your left leg. It should extend straight out of the hip (and not be angled off to the left), and rotated slightly inwardly, so its mid-line presses against the floor. Exhale and lay your torso down on the inner right thigh for a few breaths. Stretch your arms forward. Then slide your hands back toward the front shin and push your fingertips firmly to the floor. Lift your torso away from the thigh. Lengthen the lower back by pressing your tailbone down and forward; at the same time, and lift your pubis toward the navel. Roll your left hip point toward the right heel, and lengthen the left front groin. If you can maintain the upright position of your pelvis without the support of your hands on the floor, bring your hands to the top rim of your pelvis. Push heavily down. Against this pressure, lift the lower rim of your rib cage. The back ribs should lift a little faster than the front. Without shortening the back of your neck, drop your head back. To lift your chest, push the top of your sternum (at the manubrium) straight up toward the ceiling. Stay in this position for a minute. Then, with your hands back on the floor, carefully slide the left knee forward, then exhale and lift up and back into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose). Take a few breaths, drop the knees to all-fours on another exhalation, and repeat with the legs reversed for the same length of time.
To come out, release the arms down and straighten the left leg. Switch sides! Gotta have balance! 🙂 Then release the arms down once again, straighten legs. Heel toe your way back in to Mountain pose, palms together for Namaste. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
When not to do this pose or to modify/Contraindications:
If you have Sacroiliac injury, Ankle injury, Knee injury and/or Tight hips or thighs you will need to modify this pose. The best modification of this pose is to come into Reclining Pigeon pose (aka Eye of the Needle or Dead Pigeon – Supta Rajakapotasana), by resting on your back, crossing one ankle over opposite thigh and bringing knees in towards chest. It’s often difficult to descend the outside of the front-leg hip all the way to the floor. Place a thickly folded blanket underneath the hip for support.
For the full pose, first perform the preliminary leg position described above. Then with your hands braced on the floor in Proud Pigeon, bend the back knee and bring the foot as close to the top of your head as possible (tapping into your Quad/top of thigh stretch). Inhale, stretch the right arm upward; then exhale, bend the elbow, and reach back and grasp the inside of the left foot. After a few breaths, reach back with the left hand and grasp the outside of the foot. Draw the sole of the foot as close as possible to the crown of your head. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the second side for the same length of time.
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