Yoga Backbends

One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II allows you to stretch the entire front body and deep into the hip flexors to strengthen your back and improve posture.

For exclusive access to all our stories, including sequences, teacher tips, video classes, and more, join Outside+ today.

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II) is a backbend and a front stretch that requires a combination of stability and mobility.

The pose is also a place to slow down. “This pose offers us a wonderful opportunity to experience the power of the pause,” says yoga teacher Carrie Owerko. “Deliberate pausing and breathing synchronizes the body, mind, and breath so that they dance together. This way, we can stop, readjust, and back off when there is either unsteadiness or too much resistance, ultimately moving toward the effortless effort described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra.”

One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II basics

Sanskrit: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II (A-kah PAH-dah rah-jah-kah-poh-TAHS-ah-nah)

Pose type: Backbend

Targets: Lower body

Why we love it: “For the longest time, I was scared of this pose—truly scared,” says Yoga Journal staff writer Ellen O’Brien. “I didn’t think it was in my wheelhouse. However, once I tried this pose with a strap, I absolutely loved it. This posture is a great chest opener and has the added bonus of opening my hips as well. It stretches my entire body.”

Pose benefits

This posture stretches the entire front of your body—your throat, chest and abdomen—as well as the deep hip flexors (psoas) and quads. As a backbend, it also strengthens your back muscles.

Join Outside+ today to get access to exclusive pose information including video instruction, anatomy know-how, and additional pose variations. 

One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II: Step-by-step instructions

  1. Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Bend your right knee and place your foot on the floor just in front of your right sitting bone so that your shin is approximately perpendicular to the floor.
  2. Shift slightly to the right and swing your left leg straight back behind your torso. Place your hands on the floor in front of you for support as you adjust your back leg so that your left leg is fully extended, with the front of the leg and top of the foot on the floor.
  3. Bend your left knee and raise the shin approximately perpendicular to the floor. Balance your weight on your right foot and left knee. To stabilize your position, push your right knee forward until it protrudes slightly beyond your toes.
  4. Inhale as you lift your right arm up and reach back.  Exhale and take the left foot in your hand.  Then do the same with your left arm. Holding the foot firmly, lift your chest and drop your head back toward the sole of your left foot. Keep your arms toward the midline of your body and your elbows reaching toward the ceiling.
  5. Hold for about 15 to 30 seconds, breathing as smoothly as possible.
  6. Exhale and release your foot, bringing the leg back to the floor. Repeat steps 1 through 4 on the opposite side.

Beginners’ tip

If you are new to the pose, practice using adjustments and props, such as attempting the pose with your back shin pressed against a wall. Breathing is key: be sure to inhale as you lift your arm up and, bending the elbow, exhale to take your foot. Then do the same with your other arm as you drop your head back toward the sole of your foot.

Teaching One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II

These cues will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:

  • Explore how you’re using your breath in this pose—you should be breathing without strain, steadily and regularly. 
  • Focus on stabilizing your hips by picturing the sides of your pelvis squeezing in toward your center.
  • Lift your shoulder blades and try to rotate them slightly upward, being sure to support your neck as it extends backward.

Variation: King Pigeon Pose in a chair

Woman demonstrates a variation of One-Legged King Pigeon II
(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)

For a supported varition of the pose, use a chair and a block. Start in a lunge in the chair. Place the block or bolster down for your knee to rest on. If the block is too hard for your knee, put a blanket over it for more cushioning. Loop a strap around the top of your foot and use it to gently stretch your foot toward your glutes. Hold for several breaths, then slowly transition out of the pose. Repeat on the other side.

Preparatory poses

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Low Lunge

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)

 

Counter poses

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)