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Yoga Backbends

One-Legged King Pigeon Pose

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is a deep backbend that puffs the chest, making a yogi resemble a pigeon.

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One-Legged King Pigeon Pose basics

Sanskrit: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (aa-KAH pah-DAH rah-JAH-cop-poh-TAHS-anna)

Pose type: Backbend

Targets: Lower body

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Pose benefits

This pose stretches the thighs, groins and psoas, as well as your upper body. Through this, it stimulates the abdominal organs and opens the shoulders and chest.

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

  1.  Starting on your hands and knees, slide your left knee forward, angling your left shin under your torso so your left foot is at the front of your right knee and the outside of your left shin is resting on the floor.
  2. Slowly slide your right leg back, straightening the knee and dropping the top of the thigh to the floor.
  3. Lower the outside of your left buttock to the floor.
  4. Position the left heel just in front of the right hip.
  5. The left knee can angle slightly to the left, outside the line of the hip. Look back at your right leg. It should extend straight out of the hip (not angled off to the right) and be rotated slightly inward, so its midline presses against the floor.
  6. Lift your torso away from the thigh.
  7. Lengthen your lower back by pressing your tailbone down and forward.
  8. Roll your right hip point toward the left heel, and lengthen the right front groin.
  9. Remain in the pose for a few breaths, release your hands one by one, and lower your torso over the left leg and down to the floor, keeping the spine long.
  10. Stay for a few breaths, resting the forehead on the floor or your forearms. Come up with an inhale and return to your hands and knees.
  11. Repeat on the other side.

Teaching One-Legged King Pigeon Pose

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

  • Use a blanket. It’s often difficult to descend the outside of the front-leg hip all the way to the floor. Place a thickly folded blanket underneath the hip for support.
  • Add a strap. Many students who learn this pose aren’t able to easily grasp the back foot directly with their hands. Suggest looping a strap around the back foot in order for them to further their reach.
  • Make sure to warm up properly. Warm up for this posture with forward folds and hip-opening postures.

Variation: King Pigeon With a Strap

Woman demonstrates a modification for One-Legged King Pigeon I Pose
(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)

Sit on a block, bolster, or folded blankets to lift your hips. Use a strap to extend your reach, grabbing your back foot. Don’t force. Stay for several breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Preparatory Poses

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Counter Poses

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

Join Outside+ today to get access to exclusive pose information, including our complete guide to One-Legged King Pigeon Pose I, featuring video instruction, anatomy know-how, and additional pose variations. You’ll also get access to members-only content, sequences, and classes, a subscription to Yoga Journal magazine, meal plans and recipes, and more.