About the pose

Ardha Kapotasana is derived from the Sanskrit word, ‘kapota’, meaning ‘pigeon’ and ‘asana’, meaning ‘posture’. It is also believed that the name was inspired by the great yogic master Kapota. This simple first stage of Half Pigeon Pose, is considered as an Intermediate Level Pose, which requires some flexibility at the hips and back. The stretching of the chest upwards in this pose, resembles a pigeon puffing up it’s chest and hence the comparison. A proper understanding of the stretch of the various muscles in the practice of Half Pigeon Pose is important to get the maximum benefit from this pose without causing any injury to the hip as they flex deep. Seated on the floor with one leg extended backwards and the other leg is bent at the knee placed in front of you, you are balancing the body on the that side of the hip which has the leg bent at the knee. A deep stretch to the entire hip and the back. This pose is also called as Utthita Eka Pada Rajakapotasana.

Half Pigeon Pose is considered a base pose as half pigeon pose variations can be derived from this pose.

Anatomy

Half Pigeon Pose benefits the following muscles and hence can be included in yoga sequences with the corresponding muscle(s) focus:

  • Lower Back
  • Chest
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Pelvic
  • Psoas
  • Quadriceps

half pigeon front - lydie

How to do the pose

  • From all fours, bring your right knee forward towards your right wrist. Depending on your body it may be just behind your wrist or to the outer or the inner edge of it.
  • Experiment with what feels right for you, giving you a stretch on your outer hip without any discomfort in your knee.
  • Your right ankle will be somewhere in front of your left hip.
  • Slide your left leg back and point your toes, your heel is pointing up to the ceiling.
  • Scissor your hips together, by drawing your legs in towards each other. Use some support under your right buttock if needed, to keep your hips level.
  • As you inhale, come onto your fingertips, lengthen your spine, draw your navel in and open your chest.
  • As you exhale, walk your hands forward and lower your upper body towards the floor. You can rest your forearms and forehead on the mat.
  • Stay for 5 breaths or longer.
  • On each exhalation, try to release the tension in your right hip.
  • To come out of the pose, push back through the hands, lift your hips and move your leg back into all fours. Repeat on the other side.

Beginners tips

  • This can be an intense stretch on the outer hip. Keep your right foot close to your left hip to start with. The more your shin is parallel with the front of the mat, the more intense the hip opener will be.
  • If your forehead doesn’t reach the mat you can make fists with your hands and stack them on each other then rest your forehead on your hands, or use a block.
  • You can also stay up higher, resting on your elbows or hands, just remember not to slump in the shoulders – keep the base of the neck soft.
  • Try the Figure Four variation, described below.

Benefits

  • Increases hip mobility.
  • Uses core strength to keep your hips level.
  • Calms your mind.
  • Targets the psoas muscle and hip flexors.

Watch out for

  • Be very mindful of your knees, you shouldn’t feel any sensation in them. If the knees hurt, bring the right foot closer to the left hip or even underneath the right hip.
  • Keep the right foot flexed. Push out through the ball of the foot.
  • If you have any knee injuries or discomfort, try the Figure Four version described below or substitute with an alternative pose.

FURTHER READINGS


Variations

  • You can make this into a back bend instead of lowering the head to rest on the mat. Keep the arms straight and lift the chest.
  • Try the Figure Four version. Sit with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, arms behind you for support. Bring your right ankle over your left knee, keeping the foot flex. Walk your left foot closer to your hip to increase the stretch.
  • You can also do Figure four lying on your back. Cross your right ankle over left knee and take hold of the back of your left thigh, drawing it towards you. Change sides.

Credits

Model
Yoga Mat b’EARTH  &  b’EARTH X by Beinks
Photographer Sophie Dupont
Content Tummee & Ekhart Yoga

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