Asana of the Week: Kapotasana - King Pigeon Pose
This is an advanced asana which takes quite a lot of preparation to achieve as it is a very deep and intensive backbend. There are many stages within which beginners may work until their bodies and energy centers open to experience the full asana.
This powerful asana heightens mental awareness and clarity through unbounding the heart and crown chakra energy centers; evoking feelings of vulnerability, freedom, serenity and connection to the divine. It can often result in unplanned emotional expression if such a release is required.
- 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
- Deeply opens the heart and crown chakra energy centers
Step by Step
Kneel upright, with your knees slightly narrower than hip width apart and your hips, shoulders, and head stacked directly above your knees. With your hands, press down against the back of your pelvis.
On an inhalation, tuck your chin toward your sternum and lean your head and shoulders back as far as you can without pushing your hips forward. Firm your shoulder blades against your back and lift the top of your sternum. When your chest is maximally lifted, gradually release your head back.
Before you arch all the way back and place your head and hands on the floor, bring your palms together in front of your sternum in Anjali Mudra. Then separate your hands and reach them overhead toward the floor behind you. Bring your hips forward enough to counterbalance the backward movement of the upper torso and head. Keep your thighs as perpendicular to the floor as possible as you drop back. Place your palms on the floor, fingers pointing toward your feet, then lower your crown to the floor as well.
Press your palms, lift your head slightly off the floor and raise your hips, opening your front groins as much as possible. Lifting your pelvis as much as possible, lengthen and extend your upper spine and walk your hands to your feet. As you do, lower your forearms to the floor. If possible, grip your ankles (or, if you’re very flexible, your calves). Draw your elbows toward each other until they’re shoulder width apart, and anchor them firmly on the floor. Extend your neck and place your forehead on the floor.
Take a full inhalation to expand your chest. Then, exhaling softly but thoroughly, press your shins and forearms against the floor; as you do, lengthen your tailbone toward the knees and lift your top sternum in the opposite direction.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds or longer, further expanding the chest with each inhale, softening the belly with each exhale. Then release your grip, walk your hands away from your feet, and push your torso back to upright with an inhale. Rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths.
* Beginners can approximate this pose by kneeling with your back to a wall, big toes or soles touching the wall. Clasp your hands at the back of your head, lean back, and rest your crown on the wall as you press your forearms against the wall.
Contraindications - This asana is tough on the entire body, however, areas that are most vulnerable will be the lower back or L-section, and neck or C-section, and quadriceps. If you have any current or previous injuries in these areas be certain to speak to your physician, and work with a Yoga professional.