Vinyasa Pose of the Month – February, 2017- Kapotasana

In Light on Yoga, Mr. Iyengar rates Kapotasana, or Full Pigeon a  21/60.  He rates One-Legged Pigeon pose as a 28/60.  Yet, you tend to see One-Legged Pigeon pose more frequently than you do the full pose.  Why is that?

There are versions of One-Legged Pigeon pose that are available to most people.  While we might do One-Legged Pigeon with a thigh stretch, most students don't do the full pose, where you grab your back foot with your arms overhead and rest your head on your foot.  The versions where you don't hold the back foot are easier.

But there is something to the ordering of the postures.  Full Pigeon is not an easy posture, but since it is symmetrical, it is easier on the body than its asymmetrical relative.  If you can do full pigeon, it is easier and safer to work on that rather than One-Legged Pigeon.  The difficulty with asymmetrical postures such as One-Legged Pigeon is that one leg is in a forward bend, the other leg is in a back bend and the pelvis takes all the stress if the hips cannot be maintained in a square and neutral position.  In order to be able to protect our spines we want to move from the big joints first.  That means that the hips and shoulders need to be open before we move the spine.

As we work on Kapotasana this month, let's focus less on the end result of a particular pose, but rather we can work on opening the body in preparation for any back bend.

Let me suggest the following progression, not as a sequence but as an order of accomplishment:  Cobra, Locust, Bow, Camel, Wheel, Full Pigeon, One-Legged Pigeon.

Backbends are considered heart opening postures because of the lift in the chest.  Kind of appropriate for February, don't you think?  [For pictures and more info click here.]   I'll see you in class!   Karin

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