The Eka Pada Rajkapotasana, also often called The Pigeon Pose, is a yogic posture practiced among our people since time immemorial. Practicing this posture regularly over some time is said to (and indeed does) have several positive effects on our body and mind. But, before we venture further into this pose, some of us may ask ourselves a question – what is yoga?
What is Yoga?
Yoga is essentially a set of certain defined postures that help relax and enhance our body and mind. They are said to work by setting certain specific regions in our body into action and thus activate them and produce a myriad of various effects.
This old and yet ingenious art was developed in ancient India between the 5th and 6th centuries BCE among the great ascetic and the Sramana movements prevalent during that era. The exact dates for the inception of this practice, however, are yet unclear and remain a mystery for historians to date.
The antiquity of Yoga is however not lost on us, though – the approximate dates are equipped enough to marvel at the ancientness of this practice. And yet, unlike most other ancient techniques of medicine and exercise, Yoga remains widely in use today, not only in India but across the globe – which speaks volumes of its effectiveness in this era of modern medicine and advanced sciences.
The Eka Pada Rajkapotasana, The Pigeon Pose
We shall talk about one particular yogic posture today – the Eka Pada Kapotasana, or as often called the Pigeon Pose. The eka pada kapotasana is considered as one of the most advanced poses in the Yogic texts. This pose is categorized as an advanced hip opener pose, and thus is one of the more powerful poses known to us. Hence this Yogic posture is of great significance within the Yogic texts.
This posture, or asana, stretches almost every joint and muscle present in the body. The pelvic region, chest, abdomen, lower back, thighs, shoulders, calves, hamstring and neck regions are stretched significantly and hence effectively toned. The toning of these essential regions results in a great overall toning of the body. The pose helps in massaging the abdominal regions in a way, and thus helps to aid digestion. Also the hip regions are spaced out and hence it helps in improving the reproductive functions of the body. Quite a few benefits for a single posture, wouldn’t you agree?
Now that we have a basic idea about the posture itself and all its advantages, let us now try and see how we can execute this powerful pose correctly.
1) We start by assuming a position on the floor such that all four of our limbs areon the ground. We must see to it that our heads are a bit ahead of our shoulders and knees are directly below our pelvic region. We then proceed to drag our right knee across the floor in the forward direction and rest it over the back of our right wrist – simultaneously we must align our right shin under our upper body and bring our right foot in front of our left knee.
The exterior portion of our right shin will now be resting on the ground. We then gradually move our left leg back, making our knee straight and lowering the frontal region of the thigh to the floor. We then lower our right buttock on the floor, slowly. We place the right heel right in front of the left hip.
2) There is a chance that the right knee may have a slight angle to the right, outside the hip. To ensure a straight alignment of the right knee to the hip, we turn and have a look at our left leg. It should be straightened out of the hip instead of being offset to the left, and turned inwards in a mild manner, so its central region applies some pressure against the ground. We then let out a slow breath, and rest our upper body down upon the inner right thigh for a few breath cycles. Our arms must be stretched out in front of us.
3) Once the previous step is accomplished successfully, we move our hands back to the frontal region of the shin and press our finger firmly against the floor. We proceed to raise our upper body in such a manner that it distances itself away from the thigh. We then stretch our lower back region by pressing our coccyx simultaneously in the downward and forward directions, and lift our pubic mound closer to the bellybutton. After that, we turn our left hip towards the right heel, and stretch out the left front groin.
4) If it is possible to retain the straight, upright position of our hips without the support of our hands against the ground, we may move our hands to the top boundary of our pelvic bone. We then push downwards with a lot of force and against the reactionary pressure from the ground, we raise the lower boundary of our rib cage. The rear ribs should be raised somewhat quicker than the front. While preventing any retraction at the back of our neck, we drop your skull backwards. To raise our chest, we push the top of your central rib bone upwards in the direction of the ceiling.
5) We may ideally retain this position for about a minute, after which we move theleft knee forward with our hands resting on the floor, after which we let out a breath while simultaneously lifting ourselves back into the Adho Mukha Svanasana posture. After a few slow, deep breaths we get back on the floor on all fours and proceed to repeat the pose with the positions of our legs exchanged.
We may repeat this posture three to four times: we must, however, exercise caution and not overdo it as it may cause harm.
Thus this is how we may exercise the Eka Pada Kapotasana posture. Preferably this posture may be done on a yoga mat.
Benefits and Therapeutic Applications
The benefits of the Eka Pada Kapotasana posture are many, which include but are certainly not limited to :
1) A great stretching of the thighs, psoas, groin regions, chest, shoulders, abdominal region and neck.
2) Helps in stimulating and massaging the abdominal region and the organs residing in it and hence aids digestion.
3) Helps in opening and relaxing the shoulders and chest region.
The pose is extremely potent in counteracting urinary disorders as well.
People with the following medical conditions are advised not to practice this pose to avoid any adverse negative effects.
• Tight hips or thighs with restricted movements
• Sacroiliac injury
• Knee injuries
• Ankle injuries
The lowering of the exterior of the front-leg and hip to the ground may often pose difficulties for people. In such a case, it may be advisable to place a supporting structure consisting of a thickly rolled or folded blanket under the hips.
The positive impacts of the Eka Pada Kapotasana posture are many – indeed, we may undeniably accept that this posture holds a very important place among the various postures in Yoga. Such gracefulness, such balance is rarely observed, if ever so. And the benefits of this pose towards physical and mental health are countless. Hence we may conclude here acknowledging that the yogic posture, needless to say, is a fruit of an ancient civilization gifted unto us – we must attempt to practice it and reap the many benefits it offers, and make a step towards a healthier body and a healthier mind through the path of Yoga.
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