Pose of the Week: Pigeon/Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, also known as One Foot King Pigeon Pose (or Pigeon Pose for short) is a deep hip opener and backbend. Many of us think of Pigeon as that pose where we put one shin forward and fold over that leg, which is a wonderful variation that I love and teach, but in this particular post we'll explore the full, traditional posture in all it's back-bending glory.
Let's enter Pigeon step-by-step, so when you're practicing yourself, you can stop at the place your body tells you is currently appropriate.
Step 1: Starting in downward facing dog, bring your right knee to the mat beside your right wrist and sink your hips onto the floor.
Situate yourself so that your hips are squared, i.e. draw that left hip forward and down while the right hip draws back slightly.
You will feel a sweet stretch in the right outer hip, and quite possibly in the front left hip.
***Modification: If the hips are tight and don't touch the ground, place a block or rolled up blanket under the sit bone of the forward leg. Stay here and breathe slowly.
Step 2: Activate! Energetically pull each knee toward one another and then up into the body. Engage the pelvic floor. Suck the lower belly in and up.
Step 3: If you feel good here, lift your arms up overhead, palms touch, elbows toward one another. Look at your thumbs.
Step 4: If you feel like you can continue deeper into the pose, engage the backbend-- pull the ribs up and forward. Allow the chest to expand and lift up toward the sky as you bend backward, dropping the head all the way back.
Step 5: If you STILL feel like you can go deeper, bend the back knee and draw the sole of the foot toward the head. Grab the foot with your hands, draw your elbows toward one another. Breathe ;)
Step 6: Repeat all steps on other leg.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is a very advanced backbend that should be practiced with mindfulness, patience, and consistency, ideally under the supervision of a capable teacher. As always, be sure to warm the body up generously before practicing this pose, and take the time for counter poses afterward to promote balance in the body.
Questions, comments, concerns are always welcome. I am here to help <3
For love, with love.
(All Yoga Photography by Sean Shelton, @capturedconnections)