February Pose of the Month
Eka (One) Pada (legged) Raja (king) kapota (pigeon/dove) asana (pose)
One legged king pigeon is a truly expansive pose that opens the heart and hips and allows you to feel every part of your body. It is a difficult pose and its important to stay in the prep pose - Half (Sleeping) Pigeon for as long as needed to open the hips enough so that you can move into the full expression of the pose more authentically and safely. As you can see from the above photo my body isn't open enough to enter into Eka Pada Rajakapotasana fully and I may never be able to and that's ok. But just because I can't doesn't mean that you or my students can't.
How to Prepare for King Pigeon
I am such a fan of half pigeon because to me it feels so good. I love the deep stretch and release that I feel in hips when I do it and I love that the floor is there to support me so that I can truly let go and release. However I find that I love it so much that I stay here in the preparation and don't progress and move on to the full expression of the pose....its difficult. Because my hips are level and finally resting on the floor my body is ready to move into the next stage of the pose.
As a teacher I'm aware and conscious that many students find not only the full expression of the pose difficult but also the prep pose which my students are more familiar with it. I'd say 30% of my students love it the other 70% groan going into it and love coming out of it!
Use props, blocks, blankets and straps.
One of the most common misalignment's in pigeon pose is that the hips turn open and this can aggravate the S.I joint which we want to avoid. So if you notice yourself leaning over to the bent leg side and the other hip lifting up away from the floor it may be helpful to place a block under the bent knee hip.
To help square your pelvis think about sending the right hip back (bent knee leg) and your left (straight leg) hip forward and down towards your right ankle.
As your body opens and the hips become more level you can replace the block with a folded blanket.
As you begin to feel ready to move towards the full pose, start to resist the temptation for folding over and melting into the floor (which I love to do!) and start really working on lifting and extending up through the spine, lengthening the tailbone, drawing up the lower abdominals and opening the heart.
ENERGETIC & EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Helps to release bottled up feelings of stress, trauma, fear and anxiety
Enhances feelings of peace, serenity and calms disruptive desires (traditionally taught to control sexual desires)
Stretches the hip flexors - quads, groins and psoas
Stretches the hip rotators - glute medius and minimus, piriformis
Stretches the abdominals therefore stimulates the organs
Opens chest and shoulders
Stimulates the nervous, endocrine (hormonal) and reproductive systems
CAN BE THERAPEUTIC FOR:
Can relieve sacroiliac nerve pain if done with awareness
Cautions & Contraindications
Sacroiliac Injury - Be sure to keep the pelvis level by using a block or blanket and square the hips
Ankle Injury - Be sure to dorsiflex your foot by curling the toes towards the shinbone, lengthen the inner ankle so there are no 'wrinkles' of the skin at the ankle and press the outside of the foot into the floor so the outer ankle is light or almost lifted of the floor.
Knee Injury - Again place a block or blanket under the hip and moving the ankle towards the opposite hip.
If you feel any sharp, stabbing, achy, pinchy or uncomfortable twinges come out of the position and come into dead pigeon (figure 4 lying on your back).