Eka Pada Rajakapotanasana, or King Pigeon, is a challenging and rewarding back-bending posture that works to open the heart and chest. This pose can be modified to be accessible to all levels of practitioners. When practicing this pose with the back leg held and the heart opened, it is important to ensure proper alignment and breath.
Before beginning the pose, it is important to warm up the body with some standing poses and hip openers. These can include lunges, mountain pose, and low lunge. Once the body is warm, begin to come into the posture. Begin by coming down onto all fours. Bring the right knee toward the right wrist and move the right foot toward the left wrist. If the right foot cannot reach the left wrist, place a block or blanket underneath the right foot for support. Make sure the right knee is stacked on top of the right ankle.
From here, begin to extend the left leg up and back. The left foot should be flexed and active as it reaches back. As the left leg extends, begin to draw the chest and heart up and forward. To open the chest and heart, draw the shoulders back and down and reach the chest forward, lengthening each time your heart opens.
In the photo shown, I can hold on to the leg with one arm and am unable to reach behind to catch the same leg with my other arm. This is part of my process. Remember, this is a challenging posture and, for most, requires a great deal of warming up.
Eka Pada Rajakapotanasana
- Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
- Slide your right knee forward so that your right shin is parallel to the front of your mat.
- Slide your left leg backward so that your left knee is behind your left wrist and your left leg is extended straight back. Lower your hips onto your right thigh.
- Bring your right arm underneath your body and rest your forehead on the floor. You can keep your left arm extended in front of you, resting on the floor, or you can bring your left hand to your left hip for a deeper stretch.
- If it’s comfortable for your hips and lower back, you can arch your chest up and reach your left arm back toward your left foot.
- To come out of the pose, bring your right arm back up and underneath your body and press your palms into the floor. Step your left foot forward and come back into your tabletop position.