Pigeon Pose

Backbend

In Sanskrit ‘kapota’= ‘pigeon’, and this pose is also named after a great yogic master Kapota. Kapotasana is a challenging pose and comes under the category of Advance Level Poses and is also a deep backbend pose. Taking the torso in a deep backbend while settling the knees and the shins on the floor, the neck flexes to the maximum to place the crown of the head on the soles of the feet. In English, Kapotasana, is simply translated as Pigeon Pose. The most challenging aspect of this pose, is not just the flexibility of the entire back, but the flexing of the back in a narrow space from the floor. It is like a deep connection between the upper and the lower body, but in the opposite direction.

Kapotasana helps boost energy in the body and hence can be included in flow yoga sequences.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1
Start in downward facing dog with the hips lifting up and back. Finger spread wide and the palms of the hands firmly rooted into the earth.
Step 2
On an inhale, lift the right leg up towards the sky into three legged dog.
Step 3
On an exhale, step the right foot between the hands and walk the right foot over towards the left hand.
Step 4
Place the right shin on the earth as parallel to the short side of the mat as much as possible. Flex the right heel so as to protect the right knee. *Modifications: For tight hips you can fold or roll a blanket or place a block under your right hip. This will help to support and stabilize the hip, which will protect the right knee as well. **It is very important to continually flex your right heel throughout this pose. This will engage the muscles and ligaments around the knee joint to prevent strain or injury.
Step 5
Lengthen the left leg behind you. The left kneecap and top of the feet rests on the earth. The left inner thigh rolls slightly towards the sky (this will help the hips stay square)
Step 6
Firmly press through the fingertips and lift the torso away from the right thigh. Work towards having the hips be even and squaring them with the short end of the mat.
Step 7
Draw the tailbone towards the back heel and firmly press the top of the back foot into the earth. Lengthen the spine.
Step 8
To go deeper into this posture, come down to the forearms or extend the torso and arms forward and down so as to lay the body flat on the front bent leg.
Step 9
To release Pigeon Pose, gently walk the hands back towards the hips and bring extend the torso up perpendicular to the earth. Press into the fingertips and tuck the back toes. Lift the front leg up off the earth. Press the hips up and back as you extend the right leg back to a three-legged dog. Bring the right foot down to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on the opposite side.

Benefits and Contraindications

Benefits

Stretches the entire front of the body, the ankles, thighs and groins, bdomen and chest, and throat.

Stretches the deep hip flexors (psoas)

Strengthens back muscles. Improves posture.

Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck.

Contraindications

High or low blood pressure

Migraine

Insomnia

Serious low back or neck injury

Photo poses in different angles

Tips

  • This can be an intense stretch on the outer hip. Keep your right foot close to your left hip to start with. The more your shin is parallel with the front of the mat, the more intense the hip opener will be.
  • If your forehead doesn’t reach the mat you can make fists with your hands and stack them on each other then rest your forehead on your hands, or use a block.
  • You can also stay up higher, resting on your elbows or hands, just remember not to slump in the shoulders – keep the base of the neck soft.
  • Try the Figure Four variation, described below.
Modifications & Variations
  • Camel Pose With Strap And Wall
  • Kneeling Pose Hands Chair
  • Half Camel Pose
  • Camel Pose Variation Unsupported Arms
  • Kneeling Torso Circles Neck Stretch Pose
  • Pigeon Pose B
  • Camel Pose Blocks
  • Pigeon Pose Chair
  • One Legged Camel Pose
  • Supported Camel Pose Neck Aerial
  • Supported Chair Camel Pose
Top Preparatory Pose
  • Camel Pose
  • Pigeon Pose B
  • Pigeon Pose Chair
Top Follow-Up Poses
  • Child Pose
  • Pigeon Pose B
  • Camel Pose Variation One Leg in Front

Iana Varshavska
Iana Varshavska
Website administrator

In love with yoga and everything that goes along with it. Iana has been actively practicing yoga for 5 years. In addition to practice, she studies various aspects of yoga philosophy, yoga anatomy, biomechanics, and holodynamics.