This is one of my favourite yoga backbends.
Having said this, it should definitely be approached with a healthy measure of respect!
It is easy to get caught up in the process of striving for ever-more complex poses but we should never lose sight of the fact that yoga is a process; it is a practice of exploration rather than attainment. So, as you work toward this pose let your body lead the way. If you do this with a close attention to safe Eka Pada Rajakapotasana alignment you will find that this is a fun process. It’s only when the ego rushes ahead of the body that injury is likely to happen.
How to do One Legged King Pigeon Pose – Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana
- Before you attempt this pose your body should be thoroughly warmed up. Think Surya Namaskar A and B, Anjaneyasana, Ustrasana, Gomukasana and Half Pigeon Pose.
- While some teachers will allow you to work from Half Pigeon Pose to Eka Pada Rajakapotasana when your hips are elevated in Half Pigeon Pose I advise against this. It places lots of pressure on your front knee, which, in a deep twist, carries the weight of your body, especially when your hips are lifted off the floor.
- When you’re ready to deepen toward Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – One Legged King Pigeon Pose – bend your back leg and take hold of your foot with the same hand as leg or (if you notice your hips lifting or twisting, compromising your alignment) use a strap instead as this will be far gentler on your knee, quadriceps, hip flexors, back and shoulders.
- At all times, focus on maintaining square hips, on lifting up from the waist, maintaining an active core and above all, breathe!
- Next, the grip – the grip of the foot in this pose can be quite tricky – try this:
- Reach the arm (the same arm as back leg) directly up to the sky then bend the elbow. As you reach for the foot keep the elbow pointing up to the ceiling with the shoulder externally rotating. Hold on to the outside of the foot. Square the chest. Give yourself time to stabilize from the ground up.
- Now take hold of the foot with the other hand in the same way. Draw the foot toward the back of the head as you look back and maybe even bring the crown of the head and the sole of the foot together. Lift the back of the heart forward and up. The chest is open, the neck long (Jalandara Bandha) and the core strong. Make sure you can still breathe freely.
NB: A good preparatory intermediate pose is Mermaid Pose, which will allow you to open the quadriceps and hip flexors without drawing you into as deep a backbend. Good luck!