This post is about the asana Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, or King Pigeon Pose. It is going to be really long because I have so much to talk about so I am going to section it into important headings. As I say below, during my learning I could never find an in depth article or video that described all the steps that need to be taken as well as preparation information, so I thought I would write one where all information is in one place.
Table of Contents + Quick Links
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Eka Pada), or King Pigeon Pose, is a beautiful advanced yoga asana. It is my allll time favourite asana ever and I do it each and every single practice. It’s important to note that Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is not a pose that you just get into straight away. It took me about 8 months of a regular yoga practice and continuous work before I got fully into this pose.
Eka Pada involves the use of various muscles from a wide variety of muscular systems within the body. Due to the fact that it does involve so many different muscles from different body regions, there are many steps that need to be taken to progress into this asana and there are also many factors that go into successful execution of this asana. Being a self-taught yogi, I never really found any in-depth articles or blogs regarding how to work up to this pose and as a result, I had to learn a lot about the asana myself.
First, I am going to go into the anatomy involved in Eka Pada, then I will discuss the three factors/steps needed to be taken to perfect the pose along with providing written instructions,pictorials and links to my YouTube tutorials . I will then show you my progress pictures in Eka Pada, explain the common injuries and why these occur, along with providing Prep Poses to help you achieve Eka Pada and lists of Variations of the pose.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is an advanced/complex asana because there are multiple muscles from different regions of the body involved in the pose. To help you better understand and recognize the steps that must be taken to progress into this pose, I am going to provide a little bit about the anatomy involved in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana.
Muscles Involved in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Arm Muscles – Tricep Brachii
Chest Muscles- Pectorialis Major
Back Muscles- Serratus Anterior, Spinal Extensors (Superfical Extensors= Erector Spinalis Muscles; Illiocostals, Spinalis, Longissimus, and Deep Spinal Extensors= Rotates, Semispinalis and Multifarious)
Abdomen Muscles- Rectus Abdominus, External Oblique, Psoas Major
Pelvic Muscles- Iliacus
Leg Muscles- Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps (muscle group including rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis and vastus medialis) and Hamstring (muscle group including biceps femoris, semitendinosis and semimembranosis)
There are multiple factors and multiple steps involved in the successful execution of Eka Pada. I have identified three main factors/steps; 1) good form in the Eka Pada Rajakapotasana base pose, 2) opened arm muscles and 3) proper arm rotation technique.
1•A Good Base in One Legged King Pigeon Pose (Base Pose)
One Legged King Pigeon Pose is the base pose of Eka Pada. It is the first step in the journey to Eka Pada because you obviously need to perfect the base pose before you can progress further.
The most important thing in perfecting the base pose is that you start to learn how to square your hips to the ground in the base pose so that you start to close the space between your hips and the mat. At the beginning, you will be a bit far up but over time and as your hips open up, you will start to be able to square them lower to close the space.
As you keep practicing the base pose, you will notice that your hips will gain flexibility and you won’t feel as constricted and tight in the pose. You just need to practice the base pose every time you practice with the goal of getting lower and squaring your hips further towards the ground every time. The reason why it is important that your hips are squared to the ground is because you need to be able to balance in this pose to progress into the full pose.
Another important thing is that you need to start moving around and getting comfortable in this pose by opening up the muscles involved. At first, you can feel really tight and like you can hardly move but over time if you practice, you will start to be able to move around easier. I have attached prep photos below showing you some ways you can start to move around in the pose. See the section ‘Variations/Prep Poses’ at the end to see asanas which will help you begin to move in Eka Pada base pose.
When you open up your muscles a little bit, you can then start practicing tilting the head back in the base pose. This is another important aspect of perfecting One Legged King Pigeon Pose because it gives you a sense of what the head is like in the full pose.
Again, you can be literally starting and practicing this pose from the beginning of your yoga practice. I have always did One Legged King Pigeon Pose every single practice, and this helped me get into Eka Pada quicker.However, it did still take a few months so be patient with yourself and keep practicing.
2•Opened Arm Muscles + Back
In order to progress up to the last step, proper arm rotation technique, you need to have flexible/opened arm muscles. I have attached photos of asanas that will help you open your arm muscles in the ‘Eka Pada Variations/Prep Poses’ section at the end of the post.
Any type of asana that involves the arms will contribute to you gaining flexibility and opening up the muscles, so make sure you have a regular practice with a variety of asanas. This step really comes over time and most of the time you don’t notice, so as I said just make sure that you have a consistent practice and you will gain arm flexibility.
3•Proper Arm Rotation Technique
In Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, the arms are externally rotated over the head. To get into this overhead grip, you need to have proper Arm Rotation Technique, which is the hardest thing about this asana. As well as opening up your arm muscles and gaining flexibility, you need to gain understanding about the proper technique of Arm Rotation.
Proper Arm Rotation Technique is one of the last steps involved in success in Eka Pada but it is one of the most important. There are multiple ways you can get your arm externally rotated and over your head into overhead grip and every yogi has different methods. For me, I had to really play around and learn it myself because the previous methods I had learned just didn’t work for me.
Getting into external rotation will occur over time and you will not get into it straight away. Overhead rotation is something that you have to constantly work on over periods of time to perfect. Don’t get frustrated or try and rush this process and you will get into it over time.
In regards to technique, the easiest way to get into Eka Pada overhead rotation is by grabbing the big toe from the medial side, meaning that you have to reach back and kind of twist the arm, as you will see in my tutorials and pictorials below.
Tutorial + How To Externally Rotate Arm to achieve Overhead Grip
I am going to link my YouTube videos of Eka Pada Arm Rotation Technique below but here is some word instructions.It is good to watch both the video and read through the instructions because you will gain a better understanding and while attempting the pose, you will remember more. I will go over the instructions first, provide a pictorial and then will provide my YouTube video link.
Step 1- From One Legged King Pigeon (Base Pose) lift one leg, point the toe. Start to reach around to grab the toe.
Step 2- Turn around and grab your big toe with the medial side of your arm facing upwards, so your arm sort of twists to grab the toe. Make sure you have a tight grip on the toe and if you need hold the whole side of the big toe for more grip.
Step 3- Start to bend your arm, rotate and tilt it out to the side. This movement will come easy once you grab the big toe from the medial side.
Step 4- Start to turn your body to the front, bring the arm out and up.
Step 5- Keeping pushing the arm out and up until your arm flips upwards over your head. Now, you have one hand in Eka Pada Overhead Grip.
step 6- Tilt the head back and get comfortable. Then, start to raise your other arm until it is in the air.
Step 7- Start inching your hands towards your toes. Keep grabbing until you have a tight grip on the other side of the foot.
Step 8- Once you have both hands in overhead grip, really stretch into the pose. Bring your head back more and pull your hands tight so your head becomes closer into your body and kind of rests right in the curve of the foot. This is the full pose. Make sure you breath and really stretch out in the pose.
Once you get the arm rotation technique perfect, you will be able to get into more poses involving overhead grip. To prevent progress loss, you should do Eka Pada Rajakapotasna frequently. I do it every single practice.
Just like with every asana, injuries can occur if your technique falters. The injuries that can occur the most in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana are triceps and back muscle injuries while doing the external arm rotation.
How to prevent these injuries?
Injuries occur mostly because people overdo or try to rush into the pose. Be careful that you do not overdo it in one practice and ease into the prep poses. If your arm doesn’t feel open enough, do not force it to get into it and instead stop practicing the pose and try again another practice. Injuries come from pushing your body to limits it cannot go yet, so listen to your body, don’t rush into it and you will be fine.
Thanks for reading babes
I hope you found this post helpful along your Eka Pada Journey. Don’t be afraid to comment and let me know your experiences with Eka Pada, or email me. Also, if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask!
Now, I am going to provide some Eka Pada Rajakapotasana variations + prep poses.
Here are some Eka Pada Prep/Variation Poses and Poses that are going to help you open up your arm muscles and get used to and ready for external rotation.
Eka Pada Prep/Variations
One Legged King Pigeon Pose (Base)
One Legged King Pigeon Pose w Stretched Arm (Prep Moving in Base Pose)
One Legged King Pigeon Pose w Hallow Hands
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana Prep Variation Balance
Eka Pada Balance Prep/Variation
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana Variation w Knee Hold
Arm Rotation/Arm Opener Prep Asana Seated
Standing Arm Rotation Prep Asana
One Legged King Pigeon (Base) Rotation Prep Asana
Full Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (King Pigeon Pose)
One Handed Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (King Pigeon Pose)
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana Variation
Tiger Pose with Overhead Grip
Stay tuned for more yoga post’s babes!!!
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