Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana – One footed King Pigeon Posture
This posture (asana), when done correctly, is tailored to the student. Everyone has different body shapes and more importantly different hip complexes. What might work for you doesn’t mean it will work for others and this pose is no exception.
Your hips may also differ between each side depending on musculature, flexibility and ultimately the formation of the hip socket. Understanding and educating yourself about your body will bring many of the postures in yoga to light and give you a better experience in your practice.
Here are some tips to observe when practicing your King Pigeon Pose:
1. Become more familiar with your anatomy. Many yogis aim to get to the fullest range within a posture thinking that is the end goal, however it’s not. Nothing should be forced including where you” think” you should be based on aesthetics and the superficiality of yoga. When you truly begin to let go of where, when and how etc and focus directly on the energy that is limiting your range or progress into a posture, you’ll begin to experience your connection to everything that is both within you and around you.
2. Keep the Hips square. A misconception of the pose is the misunderstanding of where the hips should align. Unless the sacrum (lower spine between the hips) is square with the front of your mat and your opposing front hip (let’s say the left hip if the right hip is being stretched) is flat on the mat, please us a block to assist. These props are meant to make the posture easier (“asana” is translated from Sanskrit as “Seated Posture” which means to be firm yet relaxed). I’ve always used block or bolster on one side of my Pigeon postures as the formation of my hips does not allow for squaring up with the mat to happen naturally. This is where your ego should be left at the door before getting on the mat.
3. Lead with your chest and belly and not the upper back to lower into the posture. Rounding the upper back for the sake of getting lower in this posture is pointless. It takes away from lengthening the spine which also reduces the intensity of the stretch.
4. Ensure that that lead leg is bent at the knee and is holding a 90-degree angle. This will ensure the correct muscles are being stretched and the integrity of the knee is protected. Remember to draw the toes on the same leg to engage the muscles in the shin area to help support both the ankle and knee in this position. Feel the hip that is being stretched draw away from the front of the mat and the opposite hip going forwards.
5. Hold this pose for about 5-6 mins. By maintaining a lengthy approach in King Pigeon will allow for the much-needed time and patience to get the muscles in the hip complex to stretch and relax properly.