Pigeon, Half
ARDHA KAPOTĀSANA (अर्ध कपोतासन)
(AR-dhuh kah-poh-TAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Ardha’= half, ‘Kapota’= dove or pigeon, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Baby Pigeon Pose

Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pose Type: Seated / Stretch / Hip Opener

1. Start in Table Pose (Bharmanasana), on your hands and knees, with your knees under your hips and your shoulders over your wrists.
2. Slide your right knee forward, to the inside of your right wrist, and angle your knee and shin at about 45 degrees, so that you are resting on the side of your calf and foot. Your knee should be just about in line with your right hip.
3. Slowly extend your left leg back so that your knee and shin are face down on the mat. Square your hips forward, tuck in your tailbone, and slowly start to lower your thigh and hips to the floor. You can move your right calf to the position that is most comfortable. Keep in mind that the more parallel the calf is to your body, the more danger to the right knee.
4. Line up your right heel and your left hip and continue to sink into the pose. Internally rotate your back leg and gently press into the top of the foot.
5. With your hands on the mat, walk your hands back until they are slightly in front of your hips. Lift and broaden your chest and shoulders, as you straighten your spin. Draw your shoulder blades down and back and feel the stretch as you lengthen from the crown of your head down through your tailbone.
6. Keep your neck soft and aligned with your spine and your hips down toward the mat as you gaze forward.
7. Breathe and hold for several of breaths, about 20 seconds to build strength and flexibility.
8. When ready, release back into Table Pose (Bharmanasana).
9. Repeat on the other side.

Common Adjustments
• Back leg angled or externally rotated instead of straight back with knee face down and internally rotated
• Neck and shoulders strained
• Shoulders up by the ears
• Rounded upper back
• Lower back strained
• Hips not squared forward and down toward mat
• Back foot up on the toes
• Front knee and thigh not in line with the hips
• Front calf and heel not at 45-degree angle

Modifications
• Students with tight thighs or hips, have trouble getting their hips to the floor, or need to develop flexibility, can place a folded blanket under the hip that is at a higher, to level the hips. Alternatively, students can also lessen the stretch by keeping the heel of the front leg closer to the hips.
• Students with ankle or knee pain can place a folded blanket under the back legs knee and/or ankle for support. Alternatively, students with ankle pain can roll their toes of the back foot under to rest on the balls of the foot, instead of resting on the top of the foot.
• Beginners, or students with hip or ankle issues, can also practice Reverse Pigeon Pose (Sucirandhrasana).
• Students with severe back injury can practice Pigeon Forward Bend (Kapotasana II).
• Students that would like to deepen the pose can either bend the knee of the back leg, and reach back to grab the calf, or practice Revolved or Twisted Pigeon (Parivrtta Kapotasana).

Counter Poses
• Knees to Chest (Apanasana)
• Forward Bend, Seated (Paschimottanasana)
• Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
• Locust (Salabhasana)

Anatomy
• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)• Shoulders (Deltoids)
• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques• Lower Back (Lumbar) and Spine
• Biceps and Triceps• Hips (Psoas and Iliopsoas)
• Gluteus Maximus, Medius, and Minimus (Glutes)• Quadriceps and Hamstrings
• Calf muscles• Knees and Ankles

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the chest, shoulders, back, spine, abdominal muscles, hips, groin, inner thighs, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, piriformis, calf muscles, knees, and ankles. By strengthening these areas, posture and alignment can improve, your legs will be energized, and it can help relieve backaches, lower back tightness, and neck strain. This can also be therapeutic for students with osteoporosis.
• Lengthens the spine and increases flexibility, while also being a great chest, shoulder, hip, hip flexor, thigh, and groin opener.
• Helps to prevent arterial blockages and cardiac arrest, fluctuating blood pressure, mild depression, and hypertension by expanding the chest and stimulating the respiratory system, which also increases lung capacity and is calming for the brain. Opening and expanding the chest also helps improve function of the thyroid and parathyroid glands and is therapeutic for students with asthma or sinusitis.
• Relieves anxiety, fear, migraines / stress related headaches, insomnia / nervous exhaustion, fatigue, and reduces stress by loosening the muscles, increasing circulation, calming the nervous system and concentrating to hold the pose. This also energizes the brain and mind by bringing blood to the brain.
• Increases blood flow, which stimulates the reproductive, nervous, digestive, and endocrine system. Massages and strengthens the internal organs like the pancreas and the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands. It also improves digestion and helps relieve menopausal discomfort and menstrual discomfort.

Contraindications
1. Students with hip, knee, or ankle injuries, lower back pain or injury, sacroiliac issues, or have painfully tight hips should use caution and seek guidance. If severe, they should avoid this pose.
2. It is important to stretch before practicing this pose.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Two:Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.
Chakra Five:Throat, Visuddha, Vissudha, Vishuddhi, or Vishuddha (purification) Chakra. This is the communications and sympathetic vibrations chakra. Its goals are clear communication, creativity, and resonance. Its location is the throat.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 9 – Supine and Prone Postures as “Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – One-Legged Royal Pigeon Pose”. It is listed as a variation under “Variation 1: Baby Pigeon”. **This textbook shows a slight variation where the hands are both resting on the inside of the front knee (instead of on either side of the body).
    • Watch the Chapter 9 video “Eka Pada Rajakapotasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew, this posture can be found in Chapter 10 – KNEELING POSES as “EKA PADA RAJAKAPOTASANA – One-Legged Royal Pigeion Pose”. **This textbook shows a slight variation where the back leg is flexed and the arms bend over the head to hold the foot (instead of the back leg being extended and the hands resting on either side of the body).

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