By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is a deep backbend pose. In the final pose the practitioner puffs up his chest and assumes the shape of a pigeon and hence the name. It is a seated pose that increases flexibility. It offers wide range of physical and spiritual benefits. It is one of the four pigeon poses. It opens hips and bends the back.
Eka = one
Pada = legged
Raja = king
Kapota = pigeon
Asana = pose
Read – Kapotasana Pigeon Pose, How to do, Benefits, Dosha Effect, Precautions
One legged king pigeon pose is described in the 20th century by Pattabhi Jois in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and BKS Iyengar in ‘Light on Yoga’. Both are pupils of Krishnamacharya.
This pose is also known as the king of hip openers. It is a good posture for groins, pelvis and hips. It will help you overcome tightness of hips and enhance flexibility therein. It is a preparatory pose for Hanumanasana.
It is also called as ‘Full Pigeon Pose’. It is a preparatory pose of Kapotasana – Pigeon pose. There are 3 variations of pigeon pose – the simple pigeon pose, the mermaid pose and one legged king pigeon pose.
Preparation for Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
- This pose should be done on empty stomach, preferably done early in the morning.
- Food should be taken 3-4 hours before doing the pose. This rule shall be followed if you are doing the pose at some other time other than early in the morning.
- Keep bowel and bladder empty by the time you take the pose.
Read – Yogasana – Spiritual, Physical And Mental Benefits, Classification
Method of doing
Positioning for the pose
Start on all your fours with downward facing dog. Balance yourself in this pose and breathe easily.
Getting into the fire log pose
Now bring right leg forward while you flex knee. Rest right knee close to right wrist. Your right foot is closer to your left hip. Make yourself comfortable and stable in this position. Gradually walk your hands back such that knee is in between and in front of your hands. (You can even directly place right knee in between hands resting on the ground and walk your hands back). This will lengthen your spine and give a stretch in hips opening them.
Your left leg is extended behind you such that the front of left leg and the knee rest on the floor. Curl toes and adjust left leg such that it is placed comfortably on the floor.
Your hands are pressing on the floor on either side of flexed right leg. Your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in a straight line. You are looking to the front and your chest is puffed forwards. Make sure that your hips are square and pointing forwards, the pelvis aligned so as to balance your body. If you are not able to balance, you may keep a block beneath right butt. This will bring both hips to the same level. Your right hip should be pushed a little back and the left hip forward without those joints carrying any tension.
Now bend left leg at your knee such that sole points towards the ceiling.
Lift your arms high up in the air with fingers pointing the ceiling and palms facing behind.
Bend your hands backwards such that elbows are pointing the ceiling and your hands reaching left foot.
Now hold left foot at your back with both hands. Pull the foot gently towards back as much as possible with the sole facing back and toes pointing towards the ceiling.
While doing so, gradually bend backwards until head touches the sole of left foot. Be here for 5 counts or few deep breaths.
Read – Uttana Pristhasana – Lizard Pose, How To Do, Benefits, Effect On Dosha
Release from the pose
- Release your foot.
- Bring hands front and rest them on the floor.
- Release your legs one by one gradually.
- Finish by resting in ‘child’s pose’.
- Repeat the same steps on the opposite side.
Doing the pose from Parvatasana – Mountain Pose
Start in Mountain Pose
Inhale as you rise your right leg up towards the ceiling.
Now exhale as you bring your right knee to the front. Your knee should be close to your nose.
Place your right thigh, butt and foot on the mat. Keep your right sole touching your left pelvis / hip.
Now drop your left leg down and keep it straight. Your left hip should touch the mat.
Keep both your hips down on the floor and keep them faced forward. Place a block, pillow or folded blanket beneath your right buttock if you are not comfortable doing this.
Place your hands in cup shape right next to you.
Look forward as you straighten your spine.
- You can release in reverse way.
- Repeat the same steps on the opposite side.
- You may also proceed to do the entire pose as explained above if your flexibility allows.
Salamba Kapotasana – Supported King Pigeon Pose – In this pose, the rear leg is straight out. The hands are resting on the ground behind the hips so as to reduce the backbend. One may arch the back and gaze straight upwards if one feels comfortable.
Sleeping Pigeon Pose – In this pose, the rear leg is straight. The body and arms are stretched forwards over the bent forward leg. Though this pose is called as pigeon pose, it is different from the Kapotasana.
1. Place forward foot standing on the ground in front of the butt of the same side. Keep your knee angled well in front of the heel.
2. Place your forward leg in Ardha Virasana.
3. Place forward leg stretched straight forward of the pelvis, just as in Hanumanasana – the monkey pose.
4. If you cannot grasp back foot with your hands you may hold it with the help of a strap.
Read – Ardha Bhekasana – Half Frog Pose, How To Do, Benefits, Dosha Effects
- Opens up shoulders and chest
- Stretches thighs, psoas, gluteus and piriformis muscles
- Stretches groins, abdomen, chest, neck and shoulders
- Improves flexibility in hips, pelvis and groin
- Lengthens the flexors of hips
- Opens up hip joints and increases the range of movements therein
- It stretches the entire lower body.
- Improves posture and alignment
- Stimulates the internal organs
- Beneficial for those suffering from urinary disorders
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Improves the functioning of urinary and reproductive systems
- Reduces low back pain and sciatica symptoms
- It relieves the stress and anxiety.
- Baddha Konasana – bound angle pose
- Supta Virasana – reclining hero pose
- Setu Bandhasana – bridge pose
- Bhujangasana – cobra pose
- Gomukhasana – cow’s face pose
- Supta Baddha Konasana – reclining bound angle pose
- Virasana – hero pose
- Utthita Trikonasana – extended triangle pose
- Vrkshasana – tree pose
- Trikonasana – triangle pose
- Pawanamuktasana – wind relieving pose
- Cat and cow – Marjaryasana / Bitilasana
- Janu Shirshasana – Head to Knee Pose
- Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Bend Pose
Time spent doing Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Hold the pose for 4-5 counts or for 30 seconds.
Impact on Chakras
This pose stimulates, energizes and balances the Svadisthana Chakra – the sacral or spleen chakra. By doing so it allows you to enliven your sensory experiences and increase their sense of vitality. It provides an ideal preparation for Pranayama breathing exercises since it bestows control and self awareness.
It provides emotional release in a good way. The hip opening caused by this asana has been linked to the release of stress, anxiety and negative energies.
Contraindications, precautions for doing Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Patients suffering from below mentioned conditions should avoid doing Eka Pada Rajakapotasana –
- Hip, knee, ankle or sacroiliac injury
- Tight thighs and hips
- Those who have undergone recent hip replacement
Pregnant woman and woman who are trying to conceive should avoid this pose.
Read – Health Benefits Of Yoga: Mind And Body
Impact of Eka Pada Rajakapotasana on doshas and tissues
Impact on Doshas and its subtypes – Since it stretches the entire lower body, beneficial for functioning of urinary and reproductive systems and relieves back pain, the pose balances apana vata. Since this pose helps in relieving stress and anxiety, the pose balances prana vata, sadhaka pitta and tarpaka kapha and works out their mutual chemistry
Impact on tissues – This pose is good for stretching, strengthening and enhancing the flexibility in your muscles and joints. Therefore it is good for the health of muscle tissue and joints.