12.18.2010

Asana of the Week: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II


For someone like myself with constantly tight shoulders and hip flexors, this variation of Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose) is a dream come true.  The bind of the foot in this kneeling posture opens the anterior deltoids and pectorals while providing a controlled, active stretch to the quadriceps.  The assymetrical backbend lengthens the iliacus and psoas while strengthening the spinal extensors; the rectus abdominus and obliques work strongly on the opposite side to maintain the forward-facing position of the torso against the pull of the bound back leg.

Prepare the body for this pose with lots of heart and shoulder openers, and plenty of deep lunges to warm the hips and thighs.  I like to spend a few breaths gently stretching the hip flexors and warming the muscles of the back in Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Pose) before moving into Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II.  Keep the pelvis square as you bend the knee to bind the foot.  If tight shoulders make the rotation of the binding hand in this pose uncomfortable or impossible, the fingers may point down the foot toward the knee instead of forward over the toes.  To ensure that the heart is open and lifted, roll both shoulders down, draw the shoulderblades together, and point the elbow of the binding arm straight back.  Do not allow the elbow to splay out to the side, as this will collapse the chest and interfere with the curve of the thoracic spine.  If balance is a challenge, focus on hugging both inner thighs to the midline and keep the shoulders stacked over hips.

Activate this pose by pushing the bound foot back into the hand with the inhalations and press the base of the palm down into the foot to draw the heel toward the outer hip with the exhalations.  Keep the shoulders squared straight ahead and feel how strongly the core (both front and back) work here to stabilize the body in this position.  Play with these opposing forces in the body as you experiment with balance and sensation.

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana Sequence:  This balancing sequence warms and opens the hips, hamstrings, and muscles of the back.
  1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
  2. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A (Extended Hand-to-Foot Pose A)
  3. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B (Extended Hand-to-Foot Pose B)
  4. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana D (Extended Hand-to-Foot Pose D)
  5. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3)
  6. Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Splits Pose)
  7. Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Pose)
  8. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II (One-legged King Pigeon Pose variation)
  9. Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Splits Pose)
  10. Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Posture/Standing Forward Bend)
  11. Repeat steps 1-10 on the opposite side.

2 comments:

  1. I like this variation a lot. The balance also depends on the placement of foot and knee. I have days when balance is nearly impossible and on other days it's easy.

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  2. I love this variation, one of my favourites!

    ReplyDelete