Eka Pada Rajakapotasana | One-Legged King Pigeon Pose

(aa-KAH pah-DAH rah-JAH-cop-poh-TAHS-anna)
eka = one pada = foot or leg raja = king kapota = pigeon or dove

Benefits

• Stretches the thighs, groins, abdomen, chest and shoulders, and neck
• Stimulates the abdominal organs
• Opens the hips, shoulders and chest
• Therapeutic for urinary disorders

Contraindications/Cautions

• Sacroiliac injury
• Ankle injury
• Knee injury
• Tight hips or thighs

Step by Step

1. Begin on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips, and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Slide your right knee forward to the back of your right wrist; at the same time angle your right shin under your torso and bring your right foot to the front of your left knee. The outside of your right shin will now rest on the floor. Slowly slide your left leg back, straightening the knee and descending the front of the thigh to the floor. Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor. Position the right heel just in front of the left hip.

2. The right knee can angle slightly to the right, outside the line of the hip. Look back at your left leg. It should extend straight out of the hip (and not be angled off to the left), and rotated slightly inwardly, so its midline presses against the floor. Try to square the hips to the front of the mat. Exhale and lay your torso down on the inner right thigh for a few breaths, with the intention of squaring the hips to the floor. Stretch your arms forward. Stay here for as long as desired.

Steps 3- 5 prepare the student to move into King Pigeon.

3. Then slide your hands back toward the front shin and push your fingertips firmly to the floor. Lift your torso away from the thigh. Lengthen the lower back by pressing your tailbone down and forward; at the same time, and lift your pubis toward the navel. Roll your left hip point toward the right heel, and lengthen the left front groin.

4. If you can maintain the upright position of your pelvis without the support of your hands on the floor, bring your hands to the top rim of your pelvis. Push heavily down. Against this pressure, lift the lower rim of your rib cage. The back ribs should lift a little faster than the front. Without shortening the back of your neck, drop your head back. To lift your chest, push the top of your sternum straight up toward the ceiling.

5. Stay in this position for a minute. Then, with your hands back on the floor, carefully slide the left knee forward, then exhale and lift up and back into Adho Mukha Svanasana. Take a few breaths, drop the knees to all-fours on another exhalation, and repeat with the legs reversed for the same length of time.

Full Pose

1. For the full pose, first perform the preliminary leg position.

2. Then with your hands braced on the floor, bend the back knee and bring the foot as close to the top of your head as possible.

3. Inhale, stretch the right arm upward; then exhale, bend the elbow, and reach back and grasp the inside of the left foot. After a few breaths, reach back with the left hand and grasp the outside of the foot. Draw the sole of the foot as close as possible to the crown of your head.

4. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Then release the foot, lower the leg, perform step 5 (above) to change the position of the legs and repeat on the second side for the same length of time.

Modifications: It’s often difficult to descend the outside of the front-leg hip all the way to the floor. Place a thickly folded blanket underneath the hip for support.

Beginner’s Tip
: Many students who learn this pose are not initially able to grasp the back foot directly with their hands. They can use a strap with a buckle to help. Slip a small loop over the back foot and tighten the strap around the ball of the foot. Make sure the buckle is against the sole of the foot. Perform the leg position, and lay the strap on the floor along side the back leg. Bend the back knee and grasp the strap with the hand on that same side. Swing that arm up and over the head, then reach back with the other hand. Hold the strap in both hands, and carefully walk your hands down the strap toward the foot.

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