(Eka Pada Rajakapotasana): Techniques, Benefits, Variations
Pigeon Pose Prep & Practice
Beginning on hands and knees or Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). On an exhalation, Bring the right knee forward and right, toward the right edge of your mat behind the right wrist, angling right shin so that the right foot rest in front of the left knee.
Right leg rotates externally from hip, outside of right shin and foot rest on mat. Foot relaxes in neutral or flexes (whichever feels better on the knee). Mindfully lengthen and extend the left leg toward back of mat so that front of thigh, knee and shin rest onto the mat (neutral or slight internal rotation).
Torso is upright, gaze forward. On an inhalation, lengthen through the front, back and side bodies, exhale rooting down through front leg and right sits bones, outside of right buttock comes to rest on the mat. Gaze back at left leg to see if leg and foot are extending directly from the hip and not swiveled or sickled to the left. Hips yearn toward square.
Inhale and lengthen torso finding even length on both sides, as you exhale release the upper body toward the floor, bending the arms allowing elbows to be wide and hands to rest one on top of the other. Forehead comes to rest on the mat or on the back of the hands.
Breathe into the back body, releasing through the hips and pelvis. Spend some time here, using the breath to create space.
To come out of the pose, lengthen the arms, spread the fingers and press down through the knuckles. On an inhalation press down through hands to lift the torso and mindfully come back to hands and knees or downward dog to prepare for the other side.
- Prop up sits bones if they don’t come to the floor
- Use blanket to support front thigh (from hip to knee)
- Use a block under the forehead
- Use a bolster to support the torso and head
- Reclined Pigeon (Ankle to Knee Pose)
Physical, Mental and Emotional Benefits
- Relieves stagnation from hip joints
- Quiets the mind and brings focus inward
- Stretches piriformis, inner thigh and hip
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Knee or Hip Injuries or Hip Replacements
- Hamstring Injury
- Sacroiliac Injury
- Tight Hips (see modifications)
Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), One Legged Downward Facing Dog (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana), Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana) staying here for 3-5 breaths. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) to Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana). Repeat other side, rest in Child’s Pose (Balasana).
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A Few Notes
Working pigeon pose into your yoga sequence will help increase flexibility in your hip flexor, hamstring, glute, and quadriceps. Because of this, pigeon pose is especially helpful for those with tight hips.
Each variation of the posture, from reclined pigeon to king pigeon pose, the hip joint stretches as the external rotation of the thigh pushes into the outer hip.
If you have knee pain in this asana, then you can bring your front foot in toward your pelvic region and place a cushion or pillow under the hip of the bent leg.
King pigeon pose is the ultimate hip opener as it stretches the hip flexor on each side simultaneously, though in different ways. To safely get into king pigeon pose, begin in with the foot of your bent leg tucked into your pelvic region and your back leg engaged, yet flat against the floor. If you have tight hips, then this may be enough of a stretch for you.
Ensure that your hips are squared toward the front of your mat. If your right leg is your bent leg, then slowly bring your left foot up until your left knee is at a right angle. If you can, reach your left hand back to grab your left foot. If it is within your practice, you can create a backbend in your spine as you reach for your left foot with your right hand
This variation is quite advanced, so only move into the backbend if you are ready.
Some poses to help you prepare for this advanced asana are:
- Setu Bandha
- Utthita Parsvakonasana
- Utthita Trikonasana
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