Pigeon Pose, Kapotasana, (Ka-po-tah-sana)
kapota (pigeon) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: King Pigeon Pose
Bend deep and offer your heart to the sky with Kapotasana.
This asana was first described under this name in Iyengar’s Light on Yoga in the 20th century, although we can assume it is much older than that.
The name comes from a great sage, Kapota, whose story was described in Vedic epics like Mahabharata and Kalika Purana. He is known for his strength, power, and wisdom, and was dubbed the “son of the mighty bird, Garuda”.
Kapotasana opens the hips and chest, strengthens the glutes and thighs, and encourages the practitioner to calm and still their body and mind.Kapotasana requires a good level of flexibility and isn’t recommended for beginners. It might be a good idea to nail other backbends such as Camel or Wheel Pose first, before trying this one.
As a heart-opening pose, Kapotasana will activate your heart or Anahata chakra, releasing feelings of sorrow and activating compassion, love, and a feeling of connection with the world.
- Kapotasana opens and lengthens the chest, shoulders upper thighs, hips, abs, and ankles.
- Strengthens the back, glutes, and groin.
- Stimulates blood circulation in the body and lowers blood pressure.
- Boosts digestion and metabolism.
- Opens the lungs and improves oxygen intake.
- Calms the mind and improves mood.
- With continuous practice, it helps you build better postural habits.
How To Do Kapotasana: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
- Begin kneeling down, with your hips on your feet and your knees apart. Keep the upper body straight.
- Place your hands on your lower back, pushing the pelvis forward.
- Bend your head slightly forward and tuck your chin.
- Lift your chest forward and up, and begin to lean backward. Scoop the shoulder blades back and down.
- When you’re ready, release your head back and put your hands on the floor.
- Keep pushing the hips and thighs forward to balance the back bending motion and gain more stability.
- Place your hands close to your feet. If possible, you can grab the feet. Move the elbows together so they are shoulder-width apart. Root the forearms into the ground.
- Now also lower the crown of your head to the ground.
- Lift the hips and the pelvis.
- Hold for at least 5 breaths, and try to increase this duration over time.
Tips And Tricks:
- This backbend is intense. That means you shouldn’t attempt it as a beginner – opt for a less challenging backbend such as Bridge and Bow.
- The intensity of the pose also means you should be warmed up and take your time to enter the pose, regardless of experience. Enter and exit it consciously and with full awareness of every step.
- Avoid practicing Kapotasana and other deep backbends on a full stomach. Practice in the morning, or wait for several hours after a big meal.
Kapotasana Variation: Wheel Pose
Wheel Pose and Kapotasana Pose are relatives – both asanas are very deep backbends. Some will find the first easier, and some the latter – it might be a good idea to work on both and see what works for you. Read our full guide for Wheel Pose here.
Kapotasana Variation: Against a Wall
You can learn this pose by practicing a less deep variation against a wall.
Kneel in front of the wall, so you’re facing away from it. Push the soles of your feet into the wall.
Begin to bend back, until you reach your crown on the wall. Once you’ve pushed your head into the wall, also place your forearms – hands facing towards the floor. Then lift your chest and push the pelvis forward.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Overstretching. Don’t force it – as soon as you begin to feel any pain, exit the pose immediately. Overstretching can easily lead to injury and prevent you from practicing for months.
Avoid the pose entirely or consult with a professional if you have an injury in the hips, spine, and shoulders. Refrain from the pose if you are pregnant.
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