The Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana) is a great asana (pose), that handles stiff hips. It comes from a group of asanas, known as the ‘hip openers’, which helps keep our lower bodies to be as supple as possible.
Not only does Pigeon Pose increase the external rotation of the hip socket’s femur bone, it also lengthens the psoas muscle, which connects the torso and legs together (thanks to sitting in chairs so often at work and when travelling etc, the psoas muscle gets shorter and shorter as we get older). In Pigeon Pose, the back leg stretches the psoas muscle and the front leg works the external rotation.
This asana is a variation of the One-Legged Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), which is my favourite asana and I will be writing on this particular position very soon. Both positions share similar approaches when it comes to bodily alignment and also must be approached in a conscious and thoughtful way – both with strong breath work (deeply inhaling and exhaling).
Where the One-Legged Pigeon goes into a deep backbend, some people may bend forward over the knee in Pigeon Pose, which can put a lot of strain on the knee. To avoid injury, open the hips safely and maintain a safe and secure balance and modify accordingly.
How to do Pigeon Pose
- Begin by kneeling on all fours, with your knees hip width apart
- Lift your right knee up towards your torso and place in front of your left leg
- Slowly bring your right ankle to the floor, over your left knee, followed by your knee to the floor (go as far as you are comfortable). You should begin to feel your hips opening up.
- With your hands still firmly on the ground, begin to straighten your left leg, extending it as far and straight as you can and try to maintain stability in this seated position
- Stretch your arms forward or up towards the sky to complete Pigeon Pose (but be careful of putting too much pressure on the knee – keep your hands grounded, if that’s easier)
- Once you’re in comfortable position, begin lengthening your spine and lift your torso away from the right thigh to straighten up. Feel free to stay in this position to become aligned.
Benefits of the Pigeon Pose:
– Increases range of hip motion
– Lengthens hip flexors
– Keeps you grounded, preparing you for Lotus Pose (Padmasana) and other seated positions