King pigeon pose (Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana) is one of my favorite backbends. There’s nothing quite as surreal as the feeling of your toes tickling the top of your head as you draw your foot to the crown! The best part though is the great degree of openness that the pose creates across the entire front of the body. If you’ve been hunching over a desk all day, this posture will have you standing tall again in no time flat!
While achieving this posture will take some time and patience, you will find that you will be more likely to have success if you follow a logical and sequential approach. Any preparations that you take should include strengthening for the back as well as stretches for the the hip-flexors, quadriceps, thoracic spine and shoulders.
Before you try this pose, make sure that you are appropriately warmed up. Do some some sun-salutations or run a few laps around the block until you start to get a little sweaty. Once you’re warmed up, focus on holding each pose in the following sequence for twenty full breaths each (except the back strengtheners – 10 breaths in each of those will do just fine).
If you are unable to practice the full expression of the pose, use a strap to bind the foot.
Use these alignment tips while practicing:
Sacral Nutation – Tucking your tail strongly under as you do this pose prevents your pelvis from tipping into correct backbend positioning and can lead to lower back pain. Instead of tucking the tail, allow the vertebrate behind your belt buckle to press passively forward toward the front of your body as you bend. This will very gently tip the top of the pelvis forward and even help to increase your range of motion.
Sternum Line – Once you’ve gotten into the full posture, imagine that your breastbone were like a slide-ruler. Slide it upward and over the top of the heart to increase the opening in the thoracic spine.
Follow the short sequence in the slide-show below to work up to the king pigeon pose:
The PVYU king pigeon challenge: Snap a picture of you doing the king pigeon pose by April 15th and send it over. My highly objective panel of yoga judges and I will choose the top photo and the winner will receive a Pranavayu accelerated practice designed by me. Take note: Cool environments and awesome photo angles will be taken into consideration!