Master the ultimate hip, back, and shoulder opener to bring balance to your whole body
Conquer the King of Pigeon Poses
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Kapotasana is the lesser-known of the ”king pigeon” poses in yoga. The better-known version (eka pada raja kapotasana) actually translates to “one-legged king pigeon." This variation is a super deep backbend, which requires flexibility of the hips, back, and shoulders.
Follow this sequence of poses that help prep your body and ease you into the full pose. As with all deep openers, move slowly and take things one breath at a time. The pose will come to you when you are ready and not a moment sooner, so take deep breaths and enjoy the journey!
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Start on hands and knees with arms shoulder-width apart. Place forearms parallel to one another, tuck toes, and lift hips high as heels reach toward the ground. Drop head and reach chest back through arms toward feet to enhance shoulder opening. Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
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Lie facedown on the ground. Bend knees and take hold of the outside of ankles. Keeping knees hip-distance apart, press feet into hands and lift chest off the ground. Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
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Beginning in down dog, sweep right shin forward toward front of mat, making it as parallel to the front of the mat as possible. Keep left leg long behind you, toes un-tucked. Crawl hands forward and relax in supine pigeon for 10 deep breaths. Walk hands back toward shin until upright, and bend left knee. Grab hold of left foot and place it in the crook of left elbow (try to square off hips). Bend right elbow and reach right hand back to clasp left. Stay here for at least 10 deep breaths. Repeat on left side.
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Lie faceup with knees bent and feet on the ground hip-width apart. Bend elbows and place hands on either side of head shoulder-width apart with fingers pointing toward shoulders. Pressing into feet and hands equally, lift hips and lengthen arms. Keep pressing into feet through big toes and reach chest away from feet. Stay here for 5 deep breaths, then tuck chin to chest before slowly coming down.
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Begin in a high kneeling position with hips over knees and weight supported by shins and the tops of feet. Place palms on lower back with tailbone reaching down and draw elbows in toward one another so they aren't winging out. Rotate thighs inward and pull shoulder blades toward one another and down your back, and look to the ceiling as you lift chest upward. Allow hands release to heels. (If you can’t reach feet without crunching your lower back, tuck toes under and raise heels.) Tip head back to keep the whole spine in extension. Breathe here for at least 5 to 10 deep breaths.
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Begin in kneeling position with hips over knees and tops of feet on the ground. Place hands together at center of chest. Take a big inhale to lift arms high and lengthen through tailbone. Lift chest. Use exhale to arch spine and lean backward. Allow hands to reach toward the ground, and then release hands completely to the ground. Breathe here.
Full King Pigeon Pose
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When you are ready, softly release head to the ground. Start to crawl hands back toward feet. (Protect back by making sure knees stay hip-width apart.) Breathe here for as long as is comfortable, and then slowly come up, reversing out and using core to come up evenly (not twisting), if possible.