Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Kapotasana is an asana which demands the person doing the asana to assume the graceful pose of a pigeon. Therefore this asana is called Pigeon pose or Kapotasana.
Kapotasana – Pigeon Pose
Kapota = Pigeon
Asana = Pose, Posture
Preparation for Kapotasana
- Just like for other asanas, you need to have your stomach empty and bowels clean and empty before beginning to perform Pigeon Pose. A gap of 4-6 hours shall be given between your meals and the time of start of Kapotasana. This would mean that you have got sufficient time to digest your food and also carry the energy given by the digested food to perform the Yoga with ease and confidence, with energy also.
- This Asana yields good and optimum benefits if it is practiced in the serene and calm hours of the early morning. But in case you cannot perform it in the morning due to some other priority works, you can carry it to the evening schedule also.
Method of doing Kapotasana
Positioning for the Asana
- Sit in Vajrasana.
- Slowly lift the trunk of your body from this pose and come to a position where you stand on your knees, i.e. your torso is in right angles with your legs (thighs forming right angles with your legs), with the spine kept erect.
- Breathe easily.
Note – Kapotasana can also be done as an extended pose in continuation with Ushtrasana (Camel Pose), i.e. one can assume Ushtrasana and continue deeper to finish off with Kapotasana. Therefore Ushtrasana forms the preparatory pose for Pigeo Pose. Similarly one can go into the Kapotasana pose starting from Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose).
Performing and getting to the Kapotasana
- Inhale and lift the lower part of your belly up while pulling it in. Stretch your spine and pull it upwards from the pelvis. Also move your tailbone downwards to stabilize your lower back. Gently exhale now.
- Pull up both your arms. You could also bring your palms together.
- Exhale and slowly move backwards. Ensure that your low back is stable and long. There should be no strain or pain in your back when you do this. If there is pain or strain you need to stop doing the asana here itself.
- In hale and then go further back, pushing your sternum or chest (breast) bone backwards first.
- Now, gently lift your shoulders. Squeeze your elbows towards each other.
- Next move your head back and hold in this pose for at least for 5 breaths.
- Inhale again. Let your arms reach the floor (palms of your hands touching the floor).
- Press your feet deep into the floor. Bend your knees as much is necessary to enable you to fix your palms on the floor.
- After the palms of your hands have been placed on the floor with your torso bent backwards with your knees and legs fixed to the floor, walk back on your hands towards the food, the fingers pointing towards the toes.
- Keep moving the hands backwards until they have reached the outer borders of the feet. You can even walk your hands on the outer border of your calves (legs) reaching as far as possible towards the knee and then walk back towards your feet.
- Slowly ascend your hands over the heels such that the fingers reach the top of the heels. Once you keep your hands on the heels, clutch them tightly.
- As you hold both your feet with your hands, squeeze the elbows towards each other. Push the hip forward while keeping the space and length of your lower back intact.
- Now exhale.
- As you exhale, bend your elbows and fix them on the floor.
- When you have done this, you have brought your head in between your legs. Slowly move your head back towards the knee such that your face looks at the floor while your forehead points towards the knees. Keep the face as close as possible to the floor, in the gap between the legs.
- Hold this position for about 30 seconds to one minute or as long as you are comfortable.
- Now you are in the pigeon pose.
Release from the asana and coming back to the point of start
- Gently release your hold on the sole of your feet. Walk back on your hands away from your feet.
- Slowly rise back to the point of start. Gently come out of the posture while keeping your breathe normal.
- Roll on your spine and assume Balasana (Child Pose) before you come back to normal.
Note – If you are a beginner, you can use the support of a wall so as to get the pose to perfection. Press your soles to the wall. By using the head to grip your hands, gently lean backwards. Then place your crown on the wall. Push your forearms against the wall. This will make doing the asana a lot easier.
Advanced pose (variation of Kapotasana)
- You can do this asana using a chair instead of doing it on the floor. It is important to be cautious and practice this under the expert guidance of a Yoga expert.
- Assume this pose by doing the inverted staff position (Viparita Dandasana) while sitting over the chair.
- Slowly slip your legs beneath the chair. Clasp your hands on to the legs of the chair.
- Be gentle on to yourself as you assume the position and come out of it.
- If you are doing Kapotasana on chair, make sure you hold the position for 2-5 minutes.
Purva and Paschat Asanas
Purva Asanas (Preparatory Asanas)
Before Kapotasana, you can do one or more of the below mentioned Asanas (preparatory poses) –
- Supta Virasana
- Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Paschat Asanas (Post-Kapotasana Poses)
After performing Kapotasana, one can perform (follow-up poses) –
- Adho Mukha Swanasana
- Bharadvaja’s Twist
Duration, health benefits
What time should be spent in the pose while doing Kapotasana?
One can stay in Kapotasana for a period of 30 seconds to 60 seconds (1 minute).
Health Benefits of Kapotasana
Below mentioned are the benefits of Kapotasana –
- Kapotasana reduces the stiffness in the shoulders, back and hips
- Kapotasana increases the elasticity in your spine, thighs, calf muscles, arms, shoulders and hands.
- The asana strengthens the muscles and joints of your lower limbs and also gives them a good stretch
- The asana also tones the muscles around the throat
- Kapotasana tones up and strengthens the chest and abdominal organs
- The asana makes the lungs stronger and helps in proper and balanced breathing and aeration. It enhances the oxygen intake.
- It refines and enhances the blood circulation
- It helps in reducing blood pressure
- It improves the functions of the digestive system and balances the metabolism
- Kapotasana provides immunity and helps recover from chronic diseases
- The asana activates the nervous system
- Kapotasana is a good remedy for sciatica
- Kapotasana is a good remedy for those suffering from urinary disorders
- The asana calms the body and mind, releases stress
Effect of Kapotasana – Ayurveda View-point
Effect on Doshas
Effect of Kapotasana on Doshas and Subtypes
Kapotasana is the best asana in balancing Prana Vayu, Udana Vayu and Vyana Vayu.
Kapotasana balances the Prana-Udana axis and helps in proper oxygenation of the body. The balanced Prana-Udana-Vyana axis helps in proper circulation of oxygen and nutrients in the body. The body gets replenished and rejuvenated with proper nutrition.
These subtypes of Vayu when balanced will keep the blood pressure under control.
The balance of Prana Vayu will keep the nervous system activated and will provide a shield against development of nerve disorders. The nerve conductivity is also improved. The balanced Prana Udana Axis ensures that the brain functions and lung functions are proper; they help improvement of concentration and focus, helps in keeping away or beating stress. The mind is kept in a serene balance and the brain activities are coordinated in a good way.
By balancing the axis of Samana Vata and Pachaka Pitta, Kapotasana coordinates their proper functioning, enables proper digestion of food and conversion of food into good nutritive juice which enriches the body via circulation.
Effect on Dhatus
Effect of Kapotasana on Dhatus –
Kapotasana is a good exercise for Mamsa Dhatus i.e. muscle tissue. Apart from providing the strength to various muscles of the chest, abdomen, limbs and spine, the asana provides flexibility and enables free and relaxed movements of the body parts and proper functioning of organs of chest and abdomen.
By strengthening the nerves and improving and balancing the nerve-muscle conduction, Kapotasana enhances elasticity and stretch in the muscles and improves the elasticity of body parts. The body is kept fit and healthy.
Kapotasana also strengthens the asthi sandhis (bony joints) and enables free and flexible movements in the joints.
Kapotasana, what it promises!
Kapotasana provides extreme energy and freedom of movement in your spine. It will also provide energy and freedom of expression in your mind. Therefore it is a comprehensive exercise for your body and mind. Apart from this, Kapotasana gives a good stretch to your body and relaxes it, apart from strengthening it, provided it is practiced regularly with dedication.
This asana flexes your body in ways you would have never imagined.
Impact on Chakras
Kapotasana has a great impact on Anahata Chakra (heart chakra), Vishuddha Chakra (throat chakra) and Ajna Chakra (Third Eye Chakra). This asana which is one of the greatest backbends will stimulate the Prana or life energy to move in between these chakras and make the life processes easy. The life force in fact moves from Anahata Chakra to the Vishuddha and Ajna Chakra. This asana brings a great mind-body balance via balancing the said chakras and also synchronizing the orchestra between these Chakras.
Contraindications and precautions
Who should not do? (Contraindications and precautions for doing Kapotasana)
Patients suffering from below mentioned conditions should avoid doing Kapotasana –
- Migraine headache
- Chronic Back and shoulder pain or injury, slip disc
Caution – If you find (or feel) any pain in your shoulders or lumbar spine (lower back), you should stop doing the asana immediately. Therefore at each step of your asana, keep a close watch towards your back and check what it tells, if the back is comfortable or not while doing the asana.
If you have tight hips or thighs you might not be able to do this asana with ease.
Just Before Finish
Kapotasana is one of the great exercises and provides extreme stretch, elasticity and flexibility to the body, especially the muscles of the torso and limbs. This asana bestows on you greatest treasure of comprehensive and balanced body-mind health. In this article I have explained in detail the procedure of doing this master backbend exercise named Kapotasana, or pigeon pose and have also enumerated its benefits on body-mind health.
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