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Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)

Pigeon Pose, known as Kapotasana in Sanskrit, is a deeply therapeutic and transformative yoga posture that focuses on hip opening. This pose is widely recognized for its ability to release tension, increase flexibility, and promote emotional well-being. Pigeon Pose is a staple in many yoga practices, especially those aimed at deep stretching and relaxation.

Pigeon Pose

Kapotasana is derived from the Sanskrit words "Kapota," meaning "pigeon," and "asana," meaning "pose." The name reflects the shape of the body in this posture, which resembles a pigeon with its chest puffed up and wings gracefully extended.


Kapotasana is pronounced as "Kah-poh-TAH-sah-nah." Embracing the correct pronunciation can enhance your connection to the pose and its deeper significance.


Anatomy of Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)

Pigeon Pose is a comprehensive stretch that engages various parts of the body:

  • Hips: Deeply stretch the hip flexors and external hip rotators.

  • Thighs: Lengthens the quadriceps and hamstrings.

  • Back: Encourages a gentle backbend, stretching the spine and promoting flexibility.

  • Chest and Shoulders: Opens the chest and stretches the shoulders, especially in the advanced variations.


How to Do It: Steps and Instructions

Steps to Achieve Kapotasana

  1. Start in Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Begin on your hands and knees, then lift your hips up and back to form an inverted V shape.

  2. Bring Your Right Knee Forward: Inhale and bring your right knee towards your right wrist. Position your right shin as parallel to the front of the mat as is comfortable.

  3. Extend Your Left Leg Back: Exhale and slide your left leg back, keeping the leg straight and the top of your foot on the mat.

  4. Square Your Hips: Ensure that your hips are squared to the front of the mat. You may need to use props or adjust your position to achieve this.

  5. Lower Your Torso: Inhale and slowly lower your torso over your right leg, either resting on your forearms or extending your arms forward, bringing your forehead to the mat.

  6. Relax and Breathe: Stay in this position, focusing on deep, steady breaths. Hold for several breaths or up to a few minutes.

  7. Release: To exit, gently press your hands into the mat, lift your torso, and move back into Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat on the other side.

Pigeon Pose

When to Do It

Pigeon Pose can be practiced at various times during your yoga routine:

  • Warm-Up: Prepare the hips for deeper stretches and more dynamic poses.

  • Mid-Practice: Integrate into hip-opening sequences for enhanced flexibility and relaxation.

  • Cool-Down: Use as a gentle stretch to release tension after intense postures.


Preparatory Poses

Certain poses can help prepare your body for Kapotasana by warming up the hips and legs:

  • Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana): Warms up the spine and hips.

  • Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana): Stretches the hip flexors and prepares the legs.

  • Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana): Stretches the hamstrings and lower back.


Follow-Up Poses

After practicing Kapotasana, follow up with poses that continue to stretch and balance the body:

  • Child’s Pose (Balasana): Offers a gentle counter-stretch for the back and hips.

  • Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Stretches the entire body and releases tension.

  • Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana): Opens the hips and groin.


Chakra

Kapotasana is primarily connected to the Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana) and the Heart Chakra (Anahata). The Sacral Chakra, located in the lower abdomen, governs creativity, sensuality, and emotion. The Heart Chakra, located at the center of the chest, governs love, compassion, and emotional balance. Practicing this pose helps to open and balance these chakras, promoting emotional well-being and creativity.

sacral chakra

Mantra for This Pose

A powerful mantra to accompany Kapotasana is "Om Shanti," which translates to "Peace." This mantra helps to calm the mind and promote a sense of inner peace and tranquility.

Om Shanti

Alignment Cues

To perform Kapotasana safely and effectively, pay attention to these alignment cues:

  • Square Hips: Ensure your hips are squared to the front of the mat to avoid strain.

  • Front Shin Parallel: Position your front shin as parallel to the front of the mat as comfortable.

  • Engage Core: Gently engage your core to support your lower back.

  • Relax Shoulders: Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears.


Duration of Hold

For beginners, holding Kapotasana for 5-10 breaths is a good start. As you become more comfortable with the pose, you can gradually increase the duration to 1-3 minutes. Always listen to your body and avoid overstraining.


Drishti

In Kapotasana, your gaze (drishti) can be directed forward or downward, depending on your neck's comfort and flexibility. This helps to maintain focus and relaxation.


Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Physically, Kapotasana deeply stretches the hips, legs, and back, while promoting flexibility and relaxation. Spiritually, it encourages a release of stored emotions and tensions, fostering a sense of peace and emotional balance. The meditative nature of this pose can help cultivate a deeper connection with your inner self.


Beginners’ Tips

  • Use Props: Place a block or folded blanket under your hips for additional support and stability.

  • Start Slow: Begin with a shorter hold time and gradually increase as you build flexibility.

  • Focus on Breath: Maintain a steady, even breath to support the pose and reduce tension.

  • Adjust Position: If you feel discomfort, adjust your position or use props to ensure proper alignment.


Who Should Not Do It

Kapotasana may not be suitable for everyone. Avoid this pose if you have:

  • Recent or chronic hip, knee, or lower back injuries

  • Severe sciatica

  • High blood pressure

Always consult with a healthcare professional or experienced yoga instructor before attempting if you have any concerns.


Who Should Do It

Kapotasana can be highly beneficial for:

  • Those looking to improve hip flexibility and release tension

  • Individuals wanting to deepen their emotional awareness and balance

  • Practitioners aiming to enhance their overall relaxation and stress relief

  • Yogis seeking to balance their Sacral and Heart Chakras


Benefits of Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)

The benefits of practicing Kapotasana are extensive:

  • Releases Hip Tension: Deeply stretches the hip flexors and external hip rotators.

  • Improves Flexibility: Enhances overall flexibility in the hips, legs, and back.

  • Promotes Relaxation: Encourages deep relaxation and stress relief.

  • Enhances Emotional Balance: Helps release stored emotions and promotes emotional well-being.

  • Balances Chakras: Opens and balances the Sacral and Heart Chakras, fostering creativity and compassion.


Variations of Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)

To keep your practice interesting and challenging, you can try these variations:

  1. King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana): Bend your back leg and reach back to hold your foot, deepening the stretch.

  2. Reclining Pigeon Pose: Lie on your back and cross one ankle over the opposite knee, drawing the legs towards your chest.

  3. Pigeon Pose with Forward Fold: Extend your arms forward and rest your forehead on the mat for a deeper stretch.


Modifications for Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)

If the full pose is challenging, consider these modifications:

  • Use Props: Place a block or folded blanket under your hips for additional support and stability.

  • Adjust Shin Position: Bring your front shin closer to your body if positioning it parallel to the mat is uncomfortable.

  • Keep Back Knee Down: Keep your back knee on the mat for a gentler variation.


Common Mistakes

Avoid these common mistakes to practice Kapotasana safely:

  • Forcing the Pose: Do not force your body into the position. Use props and modifications as needed.

  • Dropping the Back Hip: Ensure your hips are squared to the front of the mat to avoid strain.

  • Holding Breath: Maintain a steady and even breath throughout the pose.

  • Neglecting Alignment: Pay attention to proper alignment cues to avoid injury.


Safety and Precautions

  • Warm-Up: Always warm up your body before attempting this pose.

  • Listen to Your Body: If you feel any pain or discomfort, come out of the pose immediately.

  • Use Props: Don’t hesitate to use blocks or other props to support your practice.

  • Consult a Professional: If you have any medical concerns, consult with a healthcare professional or experienced yoga instructor.


Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face

Face east on your mat to align with the energy of new beginnings and personal growth, enhancing the spiritual benefits of the pose.


What to Wear

Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows full range of motion. Avoid loose clothing that could interfere with your practice.


Suitable Place and Essential Oil or Fragrance

Practice in a quiet, calm space. Enhance your practice with grounding essential oils such as cedarwood or sandalwood to promote relaxation and focus.


Music for This Pose

Choose calming, instrumental music or nature sounds to maintain a focused and serene state of mind.


Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana) is a powerful and transformative yoga posture that offers numerous physical and spiritual benefits. By incorporating this deeply therapeutic pose into your practice, you can release tension, improve flexibility, and cultivate a deeper sense of emotional balance and well-being. Remember to approach the pose with mindfulness, respect your body’s limits, and enjoy the journey toward greater physical vitality and inner peace.



Happy yoga-ing!

Namaste!



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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

⭐️🌟

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Guest
Jun 02
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Never knew so much about the pose. Very comprehensive and informative. Thanks.

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Thank you so much and glad that you found it helpful! Namaste! 💜

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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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